Trust Peter Capaldi to crash land in the middle of Watership Down and cheer things up a bit.
The former Doctor Who actor stars as injured gull Kehaar in the new BBC and Netflix version of the bunny-filled children’s classic – and he brings with him some much-needed comic relief.
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Capaldi’s character swoops into the story when his wounded wing sends him plummeting on to Watership Down. But when the rabbits hatch a scheme to find some worms and feed this starving (and completely stranded) black-headed gull, Kehaar isn’t exactly grateful.
Instead he’s like a spoiled toddler, demanding more, more, MORE.
“Call this a meal? Bring me more worms,” the gull commands, sounding so much like The Thick of It’s Malcolm Tucker that you expect him to start spitting expletives any minute.
“Worms? Hey, they’re pink wiggly things that live in the ground. Keep ’em coming. Come on, come on…”
Meanwhile, the impatient seagull is just a teeny bit defensive about his injury. “Hurt! Who’s hurt? I’m not hurt. You are,” he snaps, eating up his grubs, before admitting with impeccable comic timing: “Alright, maybe a bit. But you shoulda seen the other guy.”
His impression of the rabbits? “Massive heels, but no brains whatsoever.”
Adapted from Richard Adams’ bestselling novel, Watership Down tells the story of a band of rabbits as they flee the certain destruction of their home at Sandleford warren. The tale notoriously features plenty of violence, death and suffering, and all that pain is present in vivid detail in this two-part Christmas special.
John Boyega does get a few good lines as Bigwig, while Miles Jupp is amusingly pompous as Blackberry – but Kehaar soars above them as the comic highlight of the entire drama.
Whoever cast Capaldi in the role of this grumpy bird deserves all the wiggly worms they can eat.
Watership Down will air as two feature-length episodes on Saturday 22nd December at 7pm and Sunday 23rd December at 7.20pm on BBC1. Outside of the UK, the series will be released on Netflix