Star Wars’ John Boyega will star in Watership Down remake for BBC1 and Netflix

The four-part remake also stars James McAvoy, Ben Kingsley, Nicholas Hoult, Gemma Arterton and Olivia Colman

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Star Wars actor John Boyega is swapping his Stormtrooper’s armour for rabbit fur as one of the voices of the BBC’s Watership Down remake.

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The actor, who played Finn in Star Wars: The Force Awakens will play Bigwig in the four-part BBC1 adaptation of Richard Adams’s story of the plucky rabbits Fiver, Hazel, Thumper and co.

Bigwig is the strongest and bravest of the rabbits in the story and proves an unexpected asset in the good bunnies’ fight against the malign and savage enemy General Woundwort. The General will be voiced by Gandhi star Sir Ben Kingsley in the animation, which is a Netflix and BBC co-production.

Also cast in voice roles is X-Men star James McAvoy as the heroic buck rabbit Hazel. Skins and X-Men star Nicholas Hoult plays Hazel’s younger brother Fiver who has who has a frightening vision of destruction that kick-starts the story of the good rabbits’ epic – and dangerous – journey to find a safer home.

Gemma Arterton (Made in Dagenham) plays Clover, with Miles Jupp (Rev, The Thick of It) as Blackberry, Freddie Fox (Pride) as Captain Holly, Olivia Colman (The Night Manager) is Strawberry and Anne-Marie Duff as Hyzenthlay.

The story has already been told in a 1978 animated film directed by Martin Rosen and featuring the voices of John Hurt, Ralph Richardson, Denholm Elliott and Richard Briers.

But the BBC and Netflix are hoping that advances in CGI will give the story a new lease of life on the small screen.

When RadioTimes.com exclusively revealed news of the commission, then BBC drama boss Ben Stephenson said that technological developments meant that viewers will see “the wind blowing through the fur of the rabbits” in contrast to the basic textures of the 1970s movie.

Matthew Read, BBC Drama commissioning editor said: “Before there was Harry Potter there was Watership Down, Richard Adams’s novel is one of the most successful books of all time and one of the biggest selling books in history. It is fantastic to have the opportunity to bring a modern classic to a mainstream BBC1 audience with such an incredible roster of actors alongside the talented team overseeing the animation. This fantastic take on the novel will unite the whole family, and bring this classic story to a new generation.”

The adaptation has been written by Tom Bidwell (My Mad Fat Diary) and directed by Noam Murro (300: Rise of the Empire).

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Watership Down will air on BBC1 and Netflix in 2017