The Wildlife Trusts has produced a new short film based on The Wind in the Willows. Starring Sir David Attenborough and Stephen Fry, it will be broadcast in 500 UK cinemas.
The film, which cost about £200,000 to make and will be premiered online today before its first cinema broadcasts tomorrow, is a two-minute version of the children's classic.
It shows how the lives of Badger, Ratty, Mole and Toad – the main characters in Kenneth Grahame’s story – are being affected by roads, river pollution and intensive farming.
The charity, which represents 46 wildlife trusts with a combined staff of 2,000 and 800,000 members, worked with the London creative agency Don't Panic on the venture.
Attenborough, president emeritus of the trusts, is the narrator. Fry, president of the Great Fen project run by the Wildlife Trust for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire, plays Badger. Catherine Tate, Alison Steadman and Asim Chaudhry also have major parts.
Nikki Williams, director of campaigns and policy at the trusts, said the film was a "call for action to prevent the slow demise of wildlife".
She added: "It's one of the biggest campaigns we have done."
It is hoped the film will inspire viewers to urge politicians to strengthen environmental laws and create new homes for badgers and toads.
Fry said: "I’ve acted in and narrated The Wind in the Willows in the past, but this version is different – it really, really matters.
"I adore what’s left of Britain’s wild and precious places and I’m a passionate supporter of my local wildlife trust, which is restoring a huge part of the fens for nature."
Stephanie Hilborne, chief executive of the trusts, said: "Our film is a sad version of The Wind in the Willows, but it ends with a message of real hope.
"It’s not too late to create strong laws that will help our wildlife make a comeback, and it’s not too late to establish a nature recovery network, which will enable us to plan a wilder future."
The film will be played in cinemas for two weeks.