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His Dark Materials: Season 2 trailer unveiled along with new cast members

Reading time: 16 mins

His Dark Materials will officially return to our screens this autumn, and the BBC has unveiled a new trailer and also several new cast additions for the show’s second season.

The series, which is based on Philip Pullman’s acclaimed trilogy of novels, is directed by Tom Hooper and adapted by Jack Thorne. It stars Logan’s Dafne Keen as Lyra, the young protagonist of the story who lives in Jordan College, Oxford. Placed there at the request of her Uncle, Lord Asriel (James McAvoy), she lives a sheltered life amongst the scholars and college staff while under the watchful protection of The Master (Clarke Peters) and Librarian Scholar Charles (Ian Gelder).

When the glamorous and mesmeric Mrs Coulter (Ruth Wilson) enters Lyra’s life she embarks upon a dangerous journey of discovery from Oxford to London. Here, she meets Father MacPhail (Will Keen), Lord Boreal (Ariyon Bakare) and journalist Adele Starminster (Georgina Campbell) at a glittering society party where she first hears about the sinister General Oblation Board. Lyra is subsequently thrown into the nomadic world of the boat dwelling Gyptians – Ma Costa (Anne-Marie Duff), Farder Coram (James Cosmo), John Faa (Lucien Msamati), Raymond Van Geritt (Mat Fraser), Jack Verhoeven (Geoff Bell) and Benjamin de Ruyter (Simon Manyonda), who take her North in her quest. Once in the North, she meets charismatic aeronaut and adventurer Lee Scoresby (Lin-Manuel Miranda), who joins them on their epic journey and who becomes one of Lyra’s closest allies.

“A grand but grounded epic,” we wrote in our review of Season 1.

Season 1 concluded with Lyra going on to the next step of her journey, opening up the show’s universe for whole new worlds of possibilities. To help explore those and introduce the Subtle Knife, which the second book in Pullman’s trilogy is named after, Season 2 will introduce several new faces: Simone Kirby as scientist Dr Mary Malone, Jade Anouka as 416-year-old Ruta Skadi and Terence Stamp as Giacomo Paradisi, the bearer of the knife. They join Amir Wilson as Will Parry, who will play an increasingly central role, and Andrew Scott as Will’s father, John.

The trailer and cast additions come as His Dark Materials held a virtual panel as part of Comic-Con At Home this evening. You can watch that 30-minute discussion, featuring Jack Thorne and several cast members, below:

His Dark Materials renewed for Season 2

14th September 2018

His Dark Materials has already been renewed for a second season, the BBC has revealed.

The series, which is based on Philip Pullman’s acclaimed novels, is an ambitious undertaking by the Beeb, as it fights to compete with the kind of big-budget productions that have fuelled the rise of Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. Directed by Tom Hooper, and adapted by Jack Thorne, the series stars Logan’s Dafne Keen as Lyra, the young protagonist of the story who lives in Jordan College, Oxford. Placed there at the request of her Uncle, Lord Asriel (James McAvoy), she lives a sheltered life amongst the scholars and college staff while under the watchful protection of The Master (Clarke Peters) and Librarian Scholar Charles (Ian Gelder).

When the glamorous and mesmeric Mrs Coulter (Ruth Wilson) enters Lyra’s life she embarks upon a dangerous journey of discovery from Oxford to London. Here, she meets Father MacPhail (Will Keen), Lord Boreal (Ariyon Bakare) and journalist Adele Starminster (Georgina Campbell) at a glittering society party where she first hears about the sinister General Oblation Board. Lyra is subsequently thrown into the nomadic world of the boat dwelling Gyptians – Ma Costa (Anne-Marie Duff), Farder Coram (James Cosmo), John Faa (Lucien Msamati), Raymond Van Geritt (Mat Fraser), Jack Verhoeven (Geoff Bell) and Benjamin de Ruyter (Simon Manyonda), who take her North in her quest. Once in the North, she meets charismatic aeronaut and adventurer Lee Scoresby (Lin-Manuel Miranda), who joins them on their epic journey and who becomes one of Lyra’s closest allies.

Speaking this week at a government committee, who questioned whether the Beeb was in danger of being priced out of the high-end drama market, director general Tony Hall reiterated the broadcaster’s commitment to the fantasy epic.

“We’re showing ambition on that,” Hall said, noting that the series was expensive due to its visual effects, which are being produced by Framestore.

The production, which marks New Line’s first British TV project, is currently filming at Bad Wolf’s studios in Cardiff. But before production has even finished, the BBC has already ordered a second season, with another eight episodes on the cards.

“We are making two [seasons],” explained Hall. “The cost per episode is high – it’s really ambitious.”

Hall added that the BBC’s lower comparative budgets to streaming services meant that the BBC could focus “on what we do best, which is UK content, dramas about big UK issues, finding new talent or giving existing talent its voice to do things they might not otherwise do”. His Dark Materials was “the sort of piece the BBC should make”, he added.

BBC confirms His Dark Materials cast and crew as filming begins

30th July 2018

The BBC has confirmed the full cast and crew line-up for its upcoming His Dark Materials series.

Principal photography has begun on the drama in Cardiff, with director Tom Hooper helming Jack Thorne’s adaptation of Philip Pullman’s acclaimed novels.

Dafne Keen takes on the lead role of Lyra, the young protagonist of the story who lives in Jordan College, Oxford. Placed there at the request of her Uncle, Lord Asriel (James McAvoy), she lives a sheltered life amongst the scholars and college staff while under the watchful protection of The Master (Clarke Peters) and Librarian Scholar Charles (Ian Gelder).

When the glamorous and mesmeric Mrs Coulter (Ruth Wilson) enters Lyra’s life she embarks upon a dangerous journey of discovery from Oxford to London. Here, she meets Father MacPhail (Will Keen), Lord Boreal (Ariyon Bakare) and journalist Adele Starminster (Georgina Campbell) at a glittering society party where she first hears about the sinister General Oblation Board.

Lyra is subsequently thrown into the nomadic world of the boat dwelling Gyptians – Ma Costa (Anne-Marie Duff), Farder Coram (James Cosmo), John Faa (Lucien Msamati), Raymond Van Geritt (Mat Fraser), Jack Verhoeven (Geoff Bell) and Benjamin de Ruyter (Simon Manyonda), who take her North in her quest. Once in the North, she meets charismatic aeronaut and adventurer Lee Scoresby (Lin-Manuel Miranda), who joins them on their epic journey and who becomes one of Lyra’s closest allies.

Talented young actors joining the cast include Lewin Lloyd as Roger Parslow, Daniel Frogson as Tony Costa, Tyler Howitt as Billy Costa and Archie Barnes as Pantalaimon.

Philip Pullman says: “I’m delighted that the production is underway, and I’m looking forward immensely to seeing how it looks. Bad Wolf has assembled a wonderful cast and I’m sure every HDM reader is as keen as I am to see it all coming together.”

Thorne comments: “His Dark Materials are the most beautiful set of books, taking us into a world of constant imagination. 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. 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.”

Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech, Les Miserables) will lead as director and helm the first two episodes with Dawn Shadforth (Danny Boyle’s Trust, Kylie Minogue’s Can’t Get You Out of My Head) directing episode three and Otto Bathurst (Robin Hood [2018], Peaky Blinders) directing four and five, with other directors to be announced.

In its first foray into British television, New Line Cinema is producing the series with Bad Wolf for BBC One. Dan McCulloch (Victoria, Endeavour) is Executive Producer and Laurie Borg (Peaky Blinders, Black Mirror) is Producer.

The design team is led by Joel Collins (Black Mirror, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy) with costumes designed by Caroline McCall (Downton Abbey, Hyde Park on Hudson) and hair and make-up design being led by Pamela Haddock (The Terror, Sherlock). Director of Photography for block one is Justin Brown (The End of the F***ing World, Sixteen) and casting director is Kathleen Crawford (I, Daniel Blake, Filth).

Production Designer Joel Collins (Black Mirror) says: “I wanted to be part of a show that would challenge every bone in my body. I was looking for something that would be a true test of my mettle. The hardest thing in fantasy is trying to show a mass group of people what they’ve only previously seen in their minds.”

Framestore takes the role of VFX creative partner on the show: managing and executing VFX throughout, and working closely with the production team to ensure the awe-inspiring work can be achieved on budget, and on time.

Piers Wenger, Controller of BBC Drama, adds: “The vast, complex and deeply imaginative landscape of Philip’s novels requires a world class but quintessentially British band of creatives to bring them to life. The BBC is proud and privileged to be the host to such visionaries. Thank you to Jane, Jack, Dan, Joel and Tom and of course to Philip for entrusting us with their work and sharing the journey of seeing His Dark Materials come to life.”

James McAvoy and Ruth Wilson join BBC’s His Dark Materials

9th June 2018

James McAvoy has been cast as Lord Asriel in the BBC’s adaptation of His Dark Materials.

The drama, which was first ordered by BBC One back in 2015, is based on Phillip Pullman’s trilogy of epic fantasy novels, first published in 1995 beginning with Northern Lights. Since then, their intertwining of science, theology and magic have made them modern classics among both young and adult readers, selling over 17 million copies in more than 40 languages.

They books follow a young orphan called Lyra, who lives in a parallel world where humans are accompanied by daemons, the animal embodiment of (more or less) their souls. After searching for a kidnapped friend, she uncovers a sinister plot involving stolen children and a mysterious phenomenon called “Dust”. Her path crosses with that of Will, who has a knife that can cut windows between worlds, taking them on a journey that encompasses everything from destiny and her family to sin and growing up.

Her paths also cross with the ruthless adventurer and scientist Lord Asriel. Played by Daniel Craig in the 2007 film adaptation, the BBC has officially found the man to bring him to life for the small screen: James McAvoy. The Wire’s Clarke Peters has also been cast as the master who raises Lyra.

They join an impressive cast of young and old talent, including Logan’s breakout star Dafne Keen as Lyra, The Affair’s Ruth Wilson as the enigmatic Marisa Coulter (played by Nicole Kidman in 2007), and Hamilton’s Lin-Manuel Miranda as balloonist Lee Scoresby. The eight-part series will be directed by The King’s Speech helmer Tom Hooper.

Lin-Manuel Miranda, Dafne Keen and Tom Hooper in talks for His Dark Materials

9th March 2018

BBC One’s new adaptation of His Dark Materials could hardly be more anticipated, but the Beeb is already making the right noises to increase the excitment, as the first names attached to the project are certainly impressive.

Lin-Manuel Miranda, Dafne Keen and Tom Hooper are all in talks for the show, which is based on Philip Pullman’s fantasy trilogy. The novels, first published in 1995, beginning with Northern Lights, have become staples of both children and adult fiction, thanks to their bold intertwining of science, theology and magic. The literary masterpieces have resonated around the world, selling over 17 million copies in more than 40 different languages, picking up the Whitbread (now Costa) Book of the Year Award, the Carnegie of Carnegies and the The Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award from the Swedish Arts Council.

They books follow a young orphan called Lyra, who lives in a parallel world where humans are accompanied by daemons, the animal embodiment of (more or less) their souls. After searching for a kidnapped friend, she uncovers a sinister plot involving stolen children and a mysterious phenomenon called “Dust”. Her path crosses with that of Will, who has a knife that can cut windows between worlds, taking them on a journey that encompasses everything from destiny and her family to sin and growing up.

Dafne Keen is in final talks to play Lyra. The actress delivered a breakthrough turn in Logan, holding her own against Hugh Jackman as a young girl with her own resilient strength. She will potentially be joined by none other than Lin-Manuel Miranda, who is also in talks to play balloonist and adventurer Lee Scorseby.

Miranda has become a breakout star in his own stratosphere, following the smash hit success of the musical Hamilton, which recently transferred to the UK’s West End. He has also been Oscar-nominated for his songs composed for Moana and will soon be seen in Mary Poppins Returns.

The duo will be joined by an equally starry director in the form of Tom Hooper, who EW confirms is “nearing a final deal” to direct the series – an agreement that follows him circling the project for some time.

The eight-part series is being written by Jack Thorne and is expected to air in 2019 or 2020.

BBC commissions new His Dark Materials series: Who would you cast?

3rd November 2015

The BBC has ordered a new drama series based on Philip Pullman’s fantasy trilogy, His Dark Materials.

The novels, first published in 1995, beginning with Northern Lights, have become staples of both children and adult fiction, thanks to their bold intertwining of science, theology and magic. The literary masterpieces have resonated around the world, selling over 17 million copies in more than 40 different languages, picking up the Whitbread (now Costa) Book of the Year Award, the Carnegie of Carnegies and the The Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award from the Swedish Arts Council.

For those who haven’t read them, they follow a young orphan called Lyra, who lives in a parallel world where humans are accompanied by daemons, the animal embodiment of (more or less) their souls. After searching for a kidnapped friend, she uncovers a sinister plot involving stolen children and a mysterious phenomenon called “Dust”. Her path crosses with that of Will, who has a knife that can cut windows between worlds, taking them on a journey that encompasses everything from destiny and her family to sin and growing up.

For those who have read them, the news of the Beeb’s commission will come as a mixed blessing. Indeed, the novels have been adapted many times to varying degress of success. Nicholas Hytner directed a sumptuous stage production at the National Theatre, while in 2006, New Line released The Golden Compass (pictured above), designed to be the first in a trio of feature-length adaptations but never well received enough to prompt the sequels.

If the movies’ playing down of the theological aspect over fears of a US backlash led to much criticism, though, the involvement of the BBC in this new interpretation is a more promising starting point.

The series has been commissioned by Charlotte Moore, Controller BBC One and Polly Hill, Controller BBC Drama Commissioning, and will be produced by Bad Wolf and New Line Cinema which will be made in Wales for BBC One. Bad Wolf is a UK/US production company founded by Julie Gardner and Jane Tranter, whose previous career at the BBC oversaw such quality drama as Spooks, State of Play and Bleak House, and – to reassure fantasy fans further – was named after the first season of modern Doctor Who. It also arrives hot on the heels on the BBC’s stunning adaptation of Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell.

“It is an honour to be bringing Philip Pullman’s extraordinary novels to BBC One,” says Hill. His Dark Materials is a stunning trilogy, and a drama event for young and old – a real family treat that shows our commitment to original and ambitious storytelling.”

The format, too, will give the material more time to be explored on screen.

“It’s been a constant source of pleasure to me to see this story adapted to different forms and presented in different media,” comments Pullman. “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. I couldn’t be more pleased with this news.”

Tranter adds: “The broad horizons of television suggests itself as the best of vehicles to capture the expansiveness of the story and worlds of Lyra and Will and I am looking forward to seeing how Northern Lights, The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass will occupy their place in an audience’s imagination across many episodes and seasons. “To say that I am grateful to Philip Pullman and to Toby and Carolyn at New Line Cinema for entrusting this to Bad Wolf is an understatement and we will give everything that we have to rise to the challenge of doing justice to these great works.”

One of the BBC’s strengths has always been casting the best people in its dramas, with Bertie Carvel and Eddie Marsan both helping to bring Strange and Norrell to life, and Peter Capaldi the latest in a long line of well-chosen Time Lords to steer Doctor Who’s TARDIS.

The question, then, is who should be cast in BBC’s His Dark Materials? The film version starred Dakota Blue Richards as Lyra, Nicole Kidman as the sinister Mrs. Coulter, Daniel Craig as Lyra’s uncle, Lord Asriel, Ian McKellen as the voice of Iorek Byrnison, an armoured bear who becomes Lyra’s friend, Eva Green as witch queen Serafina, and Sam Elliott as the moustached Texan aeronaut Lee Scoresby. The BBC’s previous adaptation of the novels, for Radio 4, cast Bill Paterson as Oxford’s Master of Jordan, Kenneth Cranham as Gyptian leader Farder Coram and Terence Stamp as Lord Asriel.

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