A remake of the classic – but harrowing – animation ‘Watership Down’ is being made by the BBC, but will water down some of the more brutal scenes, says its producer.
The star-studded project, which is a co-production with Netflix, will feature Olivia Colman, John Boyega, James McAvoy, Ben Kingsley, Nicholas Hoult and Gemma Arterton among the voice cast, with a rumoured budget of £20 million.
Based on the 1972 book by Richard Adams, it tells the story of a group of rabbits forced to find a new warren, but who encounter terrible danger along the way.
But according to Rory Aitken, the executive producer, the new version, which will be told in four parts, will find fewer children ‘scarred’ by the unfolding drama.
“The thing about Watership Down is that it’s an epic adventure story,” he told the Daily Telegraph.
“It’s not a terrifying, brutal story. I think that in a way we want to restore the reputation that the book should have as one of the great adventure stories of all time.
“It’s grown this reputation for being scarring and horrific and brutal, and actually that’s not what the essence of the story is.
“While we won’t shy away from the darkness in the book, visually it won’t be as brutal and scarring.
“The idea is to bring it to a wider family audience. While Watership Down is never going to be for young children, it will be for the whole family to watch together.”
In the original movie, directed by Martin Rosen, scenes of a rabbit being choked by a snare and more scenes of brutal fighting were presented in graphic detail.
As such, the U certificate it was afforded has long been contested.
Last month, after the film was shown on Channel 5 during the afternoon over the Easter weekend to some consternation from parents, the BBFC said that it would be rated PG today, for its language as well as the violence on screen.