Watership Down writer ‘didn’t like the way people babied’ children

Daughters of Watership Down author Richard Adams reveal he ‘didn’t think children should be lied to about the realities of death’, ahead of BBC adaptation with Nicholas Hoult

  • Daughter of Richard Adams says children shouldn’t be ‘pandered’ to about death
  • Rosamond, 58, says her father ‘didn’t like the way people babied’ children 
  • A new adaptation of the book will show on the BBC as a two part series this year
  • Author Richard Adams died aged 96 in 2016 after writing the hit novel in 1972 

James Hoult are among the voice cast for the new adaptation of Richard Adams’ bestselling novel

Children thought they were going to see a cartoon movie about fluffy rabbits.

But with its harrowing images of injured and dying rabbits, the original Watership Down movie traumatised a generation of youngsters when it was released in 1978.

Now the producers of BBC1’s latest reboot of the much-loved tale have warned: It’s not for small children.

Rory Aitken, one of the producers, said: ‘It’s drama and it’s not a kids’ film. 

‘Television is about family viewing, but it’s clearly not appropriate for younger children.’

However he would not be drawn on a minimum age, adding: ‘We want to leave that to parents.’ 

It came as the daughters of Watership Down author Richard Adams have revealed he thought children shouldn’t be ‘pandered’ to and lied to about the realities of death. 

Adams died aged 96 in 2016 and daughters Juliet, 60, and Rosamond, 58, who encouraged their father to write when they were children, look after his legacy.

The producers of BBC1’s latest reboot of the much-loved tale have warned: It’s not for small children. Rory Aitken, one of the producers, said: ‘It’s drama and it’s not a kids’ film’ [File photo]


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Speaking about their father’s opinions on death, his eldest daughter said: ‘Daddy didn’t like the way people babied, and pandered to, and “icky-ised” children, lying to them about death and so on. 

‘He was very explicit about that, and I think he was right. I mean, why lie to kids? 

‘We’re destroying the environment and endangering all the animals – I think it would be strange to ignore that.’

The author’s daughter also told Radio Times Christmas issue the 1972 novel is really ‘just a story about rabbits’ – despite fans thinking it has deeper meaning.

The threat of death looms large in the novel, with snares, poisoning and violence amongst the rabbits themselves. It also includes a black rabbit that acts as a ‘grim reaper’ for the characters.

A new BBC two-part adaptation, airing on December 22-23, features James McAvoy, John Boyega, Gemma Arterton and Olivia Colman among the voice cast. 


With its harrowing images of injured and dying rabbits, the original Watership Down movie traumatised a generation of youngsters when it was released in 1978 [File photo]

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