The BBC has given us a first look at the upcoming Watership Down series, as well as teasing an impressive cast which includes plenty of Doctor Who alumni.
We’ve previously learnt that The Eleventh Hour star, Olivia Colman would feature alongside James McAvoy (X-Men: Days of Future Past), Nicholas Hoult (Skins), Ben Kingsley (Iron Man 3), Gemma
Artron Energy Arterton (Quantum of Solace) and John Boyega (Star Wars: The Last Jedi).
Now, we know they’ll be joined by Peter Capaldi (the Twelfth Doctor) as Kehaar, Daniel Kaluuya (Planet of the Dead) as Bluebell, Jason Watkins (Nightmare in Silver) as Captain Orchis, Gemma Chan (The Waters of Mars) as Dewdrop, and Daniel Rigby (whose name was attached to the role of the Twelfth and Thirteenth Doctors, although he’s not had any actual involvement in Doctor Who so far) as Dandelion. Further names include Taron Egerton (Eddie the Eagle) as El-Ahrairah, Mackenzie Crook (The Detectorists) as Hawkbit, Craig Parkinson (Line of Duty) as Captain Sainfoin, and Lee Ingleby (The A Word) as Captain Campion.
Sam Smith has also recorded an original song, Fire on Fire, for the show, but don’t let that get you down.
The series will screen on BBC1 over Christmas, and, as a co-production with Netflix, will be available in other territories on the streaming service.
BBC1 Executive Producer, Ben Irving said:
“It’s a real testament to the caliber of this adaptation of Watership Down that it has attracted such an exciting roll call of names to bring these much loved characters to life. Now – in Sam Smith – we have one of the world’s most successful recording artists, with the perfect new song to serve as the series’ theme. BBC1 viewers are in for a treat this Christmas.”
Watership Down is a pretty grim story (Understatement of the Year Award Nominee 2018), but it’s also an important one – for kids and adults, I personally think. It’s tough, and heartbreaking, and actually, that’s alright. In my piece about the book and subsequent big- and small-screen versions, I waxed lyrical:
“Both [Watership Down and Doctor Who] are informed by their times, but the themes remain eerily relevant. Everyone will recognise Watership Down‘s raising environmental issues; however, everyone will read something different into the narrative: is it about immigration? Acceptance? Civil unrest? War? Is it about religion, mulling over the nature of faith no matter what creature you are? Is it a variation of Lord of the Flies, shedding light on the darker sides of humanity (despite being about rabbits)?
“Of course, Watership Down is all of this and more, as is Doctor Who. It’d be fair to say the parallels are most obvious during the Third Doctor’s tenure – just watch Inferno, Frontier in Space, and The Green Death! Then again, these themes find a place, whatever the era. The God Complex is a fine example of religion, the human condition, and, yes, even a distillation of Lord of the Flies, especially in the character of Gibbis, willing to sacrifice everyone else just to get home.”
Yep, I’m looking forward to this one!