X-Men actor James McAvoy and Star Wars’ John Boyega have joined the voice-cast for animated TV mini-series Watership Down.

The impressive cast also boasts X-Men’s Nicholas Hoult, Iron Man 3′s Sir Ben Kingsley, Freddie Fox (Cucumber) and Olivia Colman (The Night Manager).

Set in England, the four-part adaptation of Richard Adams’ classic novel follows a group of rabbits who make a harrowing journey from their native Sandleford Warren in pursuit of a mysterious promised land and a more perfect society.

Star Wars actor John Boyega  (Ian West/PA)
Star Wars actor John Boyega (Ian West/PA)

The synopsis calls this incarnation of Watership Down, written by Bafta-nominated Tom Bidwell of My Mad Fat Diary fame, a “stirring tale of adventure, courage, and survival”.

X-Men’s James will play Hazel, Nicholas has been cast as Fiver, Sir Ben is General Woundwort, Star Wars’ John will portray Bigwig, Freddie is Captain Holly and Olivia will portray Strawberry.

The series is a co-production between BBC One and Netflix, who will pick up the international broadcast.

Directed by Noam Murro who helmed 300: Rise Of The Empire, it is also produced by 42 and Noam’s company Biscuit Films.

James McAvoy (Ian West/PA)
James McAvoy (Ian West/PA)

Matthew Read, BBC drama commissioning editor, likened Watership Down to JK Rowling’s Harry Potter as he hailed the forthcoming co-production.

“Before there was Harry Potter there was Watership Down, Richard Adams’ novel is one of the most successful books of all time and one of the biggest-selling books in history,” he said.

“It is fantastic to have the opportunity to bring a modern classic to a mainstream BBC One 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.”

Nicholas Hoult signs on for Watership Down (PA)
Nicholas Hoult signs on for Watership Down (PA)

Larry Tanz, VP global television Netflix and executive producer, said: “We jumped at the chance to get in early and work alongside the BBC and 42 to bring this classic English tale to our members around the world.”

He added: “This novel presentation of Adams’ work pairs great talent with beautiful animation and will delight existing fans and capture a whole new audience for this timeless story.”

Many will recall the 1978 version of Watership Down, featuring the voices of John Hurt, the late Richard Briers and the late Ralph Richardson.

Dark, affecting and not as children-friendly as your average Disney film, a recent showing by Channel 5 sparked complaints by adult viewers who accused the broadcaster of “traumatising” youngsters by airing the famous animated version on Easter Sunday.