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Netflix and the BBC producing new 'Watership Down' Adaptation

It's time to traumatise a whole new generation of kids, as a new adaptation of the Richard Adams classic Watership Down is headed to the small screen. The BBC and Netflix are producing a new four-part animated series that will air on BBC One in the UK and be available on Netflix in all other available regions.  This time around it will be a CG production, with Dublin's Brown Bag Films working on the animation. It's somewhat familiar ground for the Irish studio, who are used to animating rabbits, with the (rather more cute and fuzzy) Peter Rabbit series among their major successes to date.

Adams' novel has previously been adapted not only as the classic 1978 feature, but also inspired an earlier 2D animated series on ITV between 1999 and 2001. The new series is expected to be completed in 2017.

The production has assembled a top-notch voice cast that includes James McAvoy, John Boyega, Olivia Colman,  Gemma Atterton and Sir Ben Kingsley. The screenplay comes from BAFTA winner Tom Bidwell and will be directed by Noam Murro, who has previously only worked on live-action. The animation team will be headed up by Pete Dodd, a veteran of films including Fantastic Mr Fox, The Corpse Bride and Frankenweenie.

What's interesting to note is that this production is being made by BBC One's Drama department, and pointedly not the Corporation's Childrens' wing. Although this is aimed at a family audience, it will air on the Beeb's flagship channel in a primetime slot. Make no mistake- this is going to be a pretty big deal. More than likely it will air in the UK over a holiday period, possibly Christmas and New Year or perhaps more likely- Easter.

BBC Drama commissioning editor Matthew Read said "Before there was ‘Harry Potter’ there was ‘Watership Down,’ Richard Adams’ novel is one of the most successful books of all time and one of the biggest-selling books in history. It is fantastic to have the opportunity to bring a modern-classic to a mainstream BBC One audience with such an incredible roster of actors alongside the talented team overseeing the animation. This fantastic take on the novel will unite the whole family, and bring this classic story to a new generation.”

Watch this space for more info when we get it.