HBO, BBC tease more from “His Dark Materials”

Filming has already begun on the second season of the BBC and HBO’s adaptation Phillip Pullman’s His Dark Materials, with the first debuting later this year. The trilogy of books is being adapted for television by Bafta, Tony and Olivier Award winning screenwriter and playwright Jack Thorne.

Dafne Keen as Lyra in the BBC/HBO production of His Dark Materials. Photo courtesy HBO

Dafne Keen as Lyra in the BBC/HBO production of His Dark Materials. Photo courtesy HBO

14-year-old Dafne Keen stars as heroine Lyra Belacqua, a seemingly ordinary but brave young woman from another world; an orphan who must embark on an epic adventure that will ultimately change the course of history and religion.

Adapting Philip Pullman’s award-winning trilogy of novels of the same name, considered a modern masterpiece of imaginative fiction, His Dark Materials will debut this autumn on BBC One and HBO.

The series, first announced in 2015, follows Lyra in her search for a kidnapped friend, uncovering a sinister plot involving stolen children and becomes a quest to understand a mysterious phenomenon called Dust.

His Dark Materials - Bear

Image courtesy HBO

The producers have commissioned the second season in case Dafne looked too old for the sequel.

His Dark Materials is considered one of the supreme works of imaginative fiction for both children and adults published in the 20th century, and the it’s understood the adaptation will not shy away from the saga’s sinister aspects or try to gloss over some of the complex ideas.

Northern Lights introduces Lyra, an orphan, who lives in a parallel universe in which science, theology and magic are entwined. Lyra’s search for a kidnapped friend uncovers a sinister plot involving stolen children, and turns into a quest to understand a mysterious phenomenon called Dust.

In The Subtle Knife, she is joined on her journey by Will, a boy who possesses a knife that can cut windows between worlds. As Lyra learns the truth about her parents and her prophesied destiny, the two young people are caught up in a war against celestial powers that ranges across many worlds and leads to a thrilling conclusion in The Amber Spyglass.

The cast of the adaptation includes Ruth Wilson (Golden Globe winner for The Affair) as Mrs. Coulter, Lin-Manuel Miranda (Tony Award winner for Hamilton) as Lee Scoresby, James McAvoy (Golden Globe nominee for Atonement) as Lord Asriel, Clarke Peters (HBO’s The Wire and Treme) as The Master of Jordan College, James Cosmo as Farder Coram and Anne-Marie Duff is Ma Costa, with Will Keen as Father McPhail and Ariyon Bakare as Lord Boreal.

The series was commissioned by Charlotte Moore, Controller BBC One and Polly Hill, Controller BBC Drama Commissioning. His Dark Materials is produced by Bad Wolf and New Line Cinema and is being made in Wales for BBC One.

Executive producing the series are Dan McCulloch, Jane Tranter, Joel Collins and Julie Gardner for Bad Wolf; Philip Pullman, Jack Thorne, Tom Hooper, Otto Bathhurst; Deborah Forte, Toby Emmerich and Carolyn Blackwood for New Line Cinema; and Ben Irving and Piers Wenger for BBC One.

Clarke Peters in His Dark Materials. Photo courtesy of HBO

Clarke Peters in His Dark Materials. Photo courtesy of HBO

Commenting on the series when it was first announced by the BBC, author and comics writer Philip Pullman said: “It’s been a constant source of pleasure to me to see this story adapted to different forms and presented in different media. It’s been a radio play, a stage play, a film, an audiobook, a graphic novel – and now comes this version for television.

“In recent years we’ve seen the way that long stories on television, whether adaptations (Game Of Thrones) or original (The Sopranos, The Wire), can reach depths of characterisation and heights of suspense by taking the time for events to make their proper impact and for consequences to unravel.

“And 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.”

His Dark Materials. Photo courtesy of HBO

Photo courtesy of HBO

His Dark Materials are the most beautiful set of books, taking us into a world of constant imagination, commented Jack Thorne last year, whose credits include Harry Potter and the Cursed Child  and This is England ’88. “Reading them I was a massive fan, in adapting them I’ve increasingly felt in awe of them.

“It’s the constant invention, the way the story never sits still, and that the characters constantly surprise you,” he continues. “It’s been a joy being part of a creative team for this; from Tom’s incredible analytic mind and amazing eye, to Joel’s beautiful world building, to everyone else involved. And then there’s the cast, which has proved to be the cast of dreams, we are so lucky to have been able to entice them in.”

His Dark Materials will screen in the UK on BBC1 and in the US on HBO, HBO NOW, HBO GO, HBO On Demand and partners’ streaming platforms

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