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Watership Down

A “repressive rabbit regime”

Forty years ago saw the publication of one of the most enduring and popular children’s books, ‘Watership Down’. Written by Richard Adams, the story follows a group of rabbits on their search for a new warren after their old one is destroyed by land developers. The rabbits face many dangers on their journey but through courage, ingenuity and teamwork find a new home.

The animated film was classified U in 1978 and features the vocal talents of a wide range of popular British actors such as John Hurt, Richard Briers, Ralph Richardson, Roy Kinnear and Hannah Gordon. The work was later classified U on VHS in 1987. The film was recognised as having enormous appeal to young audiences, many of whom were familiar with the book at the time.

While the film has a happy ending and contains many positive messages for young audiences about bravery, friendship and the environment, younger or more sensitive viewers have found some scenes upsetting or worrying. The BBFC has received complaints about the suitability of Watership Down at U almost every year since its classification. Read about how the original examiners came to their decision in the attached documents and see whether you agree.

Originally posted April 5th, 2012.


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