Saturday 27 May 2017

Were you traumatised by Watership Down in the 80s? It's getting a family friendly remake

Watership Down 1978
Watership Down 1978
Aoife Kelly

Aoife Kelly

Anyone who grew up in the 80s will likely have been traumatised by BBC animation Watership Down.

The 1978 film, about rabbits forced to find a new home after their warren is destroyed, caused controversy last month when parents complained to Channel 5 that it was too scary to be broadcast on Easter Sunday.

However, it's now getting a remake - sans blood and gore - with stars including John Boyega, James McAvoy, Ben Kingsley, Gemma Arterton, Olivia Colman, Anne-Marie Duff and Nicholas Hoult on board.

The BBC is teaming up with Netflix to make the four-part series, based on Richard Adams' novel, but the violence and death will be watered down for more family-friendly viewing.

Watership Down (1978)<br />
The rabbit Hazel dies, discards his body, heads towards to the sun, and follows a shadowy figure into the afterlife. It's just like when that naughty fox killed Fluffy.
Watership Down (1978)
The rabbit Hazel dies, discards his body, heads towards to the sun, and follows a shadowy figure into the afterlife. It's just like when that naughty fox killed Fluffy.

The Guardian reports that the project has a budget of £20m (€26m), will be written by Tom Bidwell, directed by Naom Murro, and made by production company 42.  Dublin based animation studio Brown Bag Films is also on board to create CG animation along with Peter Dodd and Hugo Sands.

Josh Varney of 42 told the newspaper that it will be a more family friendly adaptation than the film of 1978 and will focus more on the female rabbits.

A scene from Watership Down
A scene from Watership Down

“Most people’s frame of reference is the movie from the late 70s but the book is a 400-page epic and we have got four hours of TV to really let the story and the characters breathe,” he said.

“Tom Bidwell has done a brilliant job of being able to weave in more female characters, which I think the audience will find exciting.

"It’s about rabbits trying to find a home and within that story there are does and we wanted to amplify those roles to give more balance to the piece.”

The series will air on BBC One next year as well as Netflix.

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