New TV Adaptation of His Dark Materials Arriving This Year

Former Doctor Who producers adapting Phillip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy for BBC.

BBC One is joining forces with New Line and Bad Wolf Productions, the very talented Julie Gardner and Jane Tranter, to create an eight-part TV event of Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials Book Trilogy. (You may recognize these two as former producers of Doctor Who.) His Dark Materials are often better known as The Golden Compass, (or Northern Lights if you’re from the UK) The subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass. Although this was originally announced in 2015, the mini-series has been gaming headway with the announcement of a sequel to the much-loved trilogy. While Harry Potter & The Cursed Child brought a new range of readers to the Potterverse, this TV adaptation is sure to garner more fans for His Dark Materials.

What's It All About Then?

The series will cover the trilogy from beginning to end. The Golden Compass introduces Lyra Belacqua, an orphan girl who lives in a world where science, theology and magic are all connected. When her friend is kidnapped, Lyra journeys forth, searching for her friend and in doing so, reveals a devious plot involving stolen children, which progresses into a quest to understand a mysterious phenomenon called Dust.

In The Subtle Knife, Lyra is joined by a boy called Will. Will has in his possession a very special knife that has the ability to cut the windows between worlds. Together they are caught in the crossfires of a war against celestial powers that are spread across many worlds. All the while, young Lyra learns the truth about not only her parentage, but of her part to play in this grand scheme. The prophecy of her destiny and the great role that she has to play in the thrilling conclusion, The Amber Spyglass.

Who Will Be Cast?

Unfortunately, that is one of the things that we don’t know quite yet. If the team have managed to find the right cast, then they are keeping it very close to their chests. The thing is that the entire show rests on the fact that the children cast will either make or break the series. The child actors involved will have to deal with some pretty hairy stuff. We do know that there are some brilliant kids out there, shows like Netflix’s A Series of Unfortunate Events show that kids with acting chops do exist, those Beaudelaire kids were awesome.

When Will It Be Released?

Okay, so there isn’t an exact air date, however the team are planning to have His Dark Materials on air by late Fall. The showrunners are definitely taking their time, as they do not want to rush this one. Writer Phillip Pullman himself stated that it would take time to get everything right. Where the movie failed, this show might prevail if it follows the same path as A Series Of Unfortunate Events and stick closely to the source material.

Things are moving steadily and well, but it’s a very big project and needs a great deal of planning to get things right.
~Philip Pullman

Who's Writing It?

According to Variety, the His dark Materials adaption is going to be written by Jack Thorne. Thorne is known for his many accolades, including This Is England and of course the stage adaptation of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. So at least we know that the series is in safe, well-seasoned hands. The triple BAFTA nominated Thorne stated that he was drawn to the project.

It is such an honor and a privilege to be given this opportunity to delve into Philip Pullman’s world. What I always loved about Bad Wolf’s intentions with this project was the notion of sounding every note. The His Dark Materials trilogy are vast and glorious books full of beautiful characters going to work as hard as I can to do Justice to them.
 ~ Jack Thorne

Thorne’s statement will be a comfort to fans of the books, as it appears that he is planning to be more faithful to the original tone of the trilogy, unlike the 2007 film adaptation of the story. Many avid fans will be eager to get a glimpse into the much darker tale than that which was presented to them previously.

Why Make It Now?

Pullman himself said that long-form TV was the driving force behind giving this adaptation the green light. With shows like Game of Thrones, The Sopranos and A Series of Unfortunate Events leading the way. His Dark Materials has been adapted for radio, the stage and the silver screen, however it may have finally found its perfect medium (out of the pages of course!) Pullman is quoted as saying:

In recent years, we’ve seen how long stories on television, whether adaptations or original can reach the depths of characterization and heights of suspense by taking the time for events to make their proper impact and for the consequences to unravel. And now the sheer talent now working in the world of long-form television is formidable.
For all those reasons, I’m delighted at the prospect of a television version of His Dark Materials. I’m especially pleased at the involvement of Jane Tranter, whose experience, imagination, and drive are second to none. As for the BBC, it has no stronger supporter than me. I couldn’t be more pleased with this news.

How Many Episodes Can We Look Forward To?

The BBC has optioned an eight episode first series to get the ball rolling. There have been reports that a mufti-series deal has been agreed in order to bring Pullman’s story to the small screen. This deal includes forty episodes to be spread over five seasons, which may be enough to satiate the appetites of Pullman’s fans. Plus, there’s always room for more in the future as Pullman announced a sequel to his much loved trilogy. 

Filming will commence in Wales later this year, once all of the pieces of the puzzle have come together. With a great team behind them and great support from fans, it seems like His Dark Materials will be a great adaptation, worthy of pages that it hails from.

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