James McAvoy and Ben Kingsley to provide voices for new Watership Down

Watership Down

Previously adapted as a movie in 1978 and a TV series between 1999 and 2001, Richard Adams' classic novel Watership Down is set to return to screens in a new version. This one's a four-episode CG-animated collaboration between the BBC and Netflix, who between them have assembled quite the voice cast. Representing the rabbits will be James McAvoy, Ben Kingsley, Nicholas Hoult, John Boyega, Gemma Arterton, Olivia Colman, Miles Jupp, Freddie Fox and Anne-Marie Duff.

The story, you'll be well aware, involves a colony of rabbits uprooted from their rurla warren at Sandleford by impending human development. Embarking on a perilous journey across southern England they eventually wind up at new home Watership Down, but face a new threat from the neighbouring warren Efrafa: a police state run by the tyrannical bunny General Woundwort, who, despite overcrowding, doesn't want his female subjects defecting to the woman-starved Watership. You could say his philosophy is does before bros.

McAvoy will play protagonist Hazel and Hoult his younger brother Fiver. Boyega will be Bigwig; Arterton will be Clover; Jupp is Blackberry; Colman is Strawberry; Duff is Hyzenthlay; Fox is Captain Holly; and Kingsley, of course, is the big bad General himself. Other voices, including Kehaar the gull, have yet to be revealed.

Noam Murro is the director, and is also exec-producing through his company Biscuit Films. A commercials man by previous trade, his last film was 300: Rise Of An Empire. "This! Is! Efrafa!", Woundwort probably won't say.

"We jumped at the chance to get in early and work alongside the BBC to bring this classic English tale to our members around the world," said Netflix's VP of global television Larry Tanz. "This novel presentation of Adams' work pairs great talent with beautiful animation and will delight existing fans and capture a whole new audience for this timeless story."

The mini-series will play on BBC One in the UK and on Netflix everywhere else. It's due to be finished next year, so will likely, we'd hazard, arrive at Christmas, 2017.