How BBC reimagined Watership Down for the small screen

We speak to production designers Painting Practice about setting the TV adaption apart from the notoriously graphic film version, and why we should treat it more like a drama than a traditional animation

For a generation of kids growing up 1970s Britain, Watership Down will forever be known as the film that stopped them from seeing bunny rabbits in the same way ever again. Based on the original novel by Richard Adams, it tells the story of a ragtag band of rabbits forced to flee their warren in search of safety and a new home.

The 70s film adaption was initially given a U rating by the powers that be, and so thousands of unwitting parents happily sent their kids off to see it. Little did they know that it featured enough blood and guts to keep most fully-grown adults up at night. “I was one of the generation that the film haunted,” says Painting Practice co-founder Joel Collins. “The complication of that material is that it’s not really for children, but it is for children.”



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