The forthcoming adaptation of Watership Down will feature an original song by Sam Smith, it was announced today. The Grammy, Brit and Academy award-winning artist was inspired by Richard Adams’ classic novel to write and record Fire On Fire, an original song that will serve as the theme to the forthcoming animated mini-series. Fire On Fire was co-written with Steve Mac and was recorded by Sam Smith with the BBC Concert Orchestra at London’s Abbey Road Studios in September 2018.

Sam Smith says: “I am so excited and honoured to be a part of this new adaptation of Watership Down. This story is so powerful and timeless, and it has been thrilling to work with Noam and his team and the incredible Steve Mac on this song for it. I hope everyone loves it as much as I do. x”

The announcement coincides with the release of first-look images for the series, featuring Hazel (voiced by James McAvoy), alongside Fiver (Nicholas Hoult), Bigwig (John Boyega), Clover (Gemma Arterton) and Strawberry (Olivia Colman) among others.

Further star names have also been confirmed to join the previously announced Watership Down cast. Academy award-nominated actors Daniel Kaluuya (Get Out, Black Panther) and Rosamund Pike (A Private War, Gone Girl) will play Bluebell and The Black Rabbit Of Inlé respectively, with Peter Capaldi (Doctor Who, The Thick Of It) announced to join the cast as the seagull Kehaar.

Taron Egerton (Kingsman, Rocketman) has joined the cast as El-Ahrairah, with Mackenzie Crook (Britannia, Detectorists) as Hawkbit, Gemma Chan (Crazy Rich Asians, Humans) as Dewdrop, Jason Watkins (A Very English Scandal, The Crown) as Captain Orchis, Rory Kinnear (Peterloo, Skyfall) as Cowslip, Craig Parkinson (Line Of Duty, Indian Summers) as Sainfoin, Henry Goodman (Genius, Snatch) as Blackavar, Tom Wilkinson (The Happy Prince, Selma) as Threarah, Lee Ingleby (The A Word, Innocent) as Captain Campion, Charlotte Spencer (Line Of Duty, Glue) as Nettle, and Daniel Rigby (Flowers, Sick Note) as Dandelion.

The cast is rounded out by the previously announced Sir Ben Kingsley as General Woundwort, Freddie Fox as Captain Holly, Anne-Marie Duff as Hyzenthlay, and Miles Jupp as Blackberry.

Adapted for the screen by Tom Bidwell (My Mad Fat Diary), Watership Down uses Richard Adams’ bestselling novel as its source to bring an innovative interpretation to the beloved story. Set in the idyllic rural landscape of southern England, this tale of adventure, courage and survival follows a band of rabbits on their flight from the intrusion of man and the certain destruction of their home. Led by a stout-hearted pair of brothers, they journey forth from their native Sandleford Warren through the harrowing trials posed by predators and adversaries, towards a promised land and a more perfect society.

Director and Executive Producer for Biscuit Entertainment Noam Murro says: “I’m blown away that Sam Smith is bringing his singular voice to our adaptation of Watership Down. With Fire On Fire he’s created a theme song that connects with the heart of this iconic story. Bringing this story to life has been a long and incredible journey made by the immensely talented and dedicated cast and crew. I can’t wait to share the full series with the world this Christmas.”

Rory Aitken and Josh Varney, Executive Producers for 42 say: “We’re thrilled to be collaborating with Sam – his stunning track resonates deeply with the themes of the show. We’re bowled over by the talent involved in the mini series, both on screen and off; it’s a labour of love to adapt such a deeply moving and important book, and we’re incredibly excited to be bringing the show to television audiences this Christmas.”

Ben Irving, Executive Producer for BBC One says: “It’s a real testament to the calibre 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. BBC One viewers are in for a treat this Christmas.”

Watership Down will be shown on BBC One as two special feature length episodes this Christmas. Executive producers are Rory Aitken, Josh Varney, Ben Pugh and Eleanor Moran for 42; Noam Murro for Biscuit Entertainment; Martin Rosen; and Ben Irving for BBC One. The series is produced and developed by 42 and Biscuit Entertainment, was commissioned by the BBC, and is a co-production between BBC One and Netflix. The mini-series is co-directed by Alan Short and Seamus Malone and produced by Georgia Dussaud and Cecil Kramer.

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