ENTERTAINMENT
04/11/2019 8:35 AM IST

His Dark Materials: Everything You Need To Know About The BBC's Adaptation Of Philip Pullman's Books

Lin-Manuel Miranda, Ruth Wilson and James McAvoy lead an all-star cast in the new fantasy drama the critics are already loving.

Sunday nights are about to get a whole lot darker - and not just because the clocks have now gone back. 

His Dark Materials arrives on BBC One this weekend, and the fantasy series promises to have viewers hooked over the next eight weeks, having already drawn comparisons to Game Of Thrones

Ahead of its debut, here’s everything we can tell you about it...

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It’s based on the Philip Pullman novels

His Dark Materials is based on the trilogy of fantasy novels from Philip Pullman, which began in 1995 with the publication of Northern Lights, followed by The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass.  

The books sold a whopping 18 million copies and won a number of plaudits, including the 2001 Whitbread Book of the Year for The Amber Spyglass.

Northen Lights was previously turned into a 2007 film called The Golden Compass, starring Nicole Kidman, Daniel Craig and Dakota Blue Richards, but this series serves as a completely separate piece of work.

The film was originally supposed to have sequels, but poor critical reception over how the story had been adapted and a less than solid performance at the box office led to them being cancelled. 

Pullman himself later criticised the film for being “over-designed” and not “finishing the story”. 

The story takes place across many parallel worlds

The series follows a brave young woman called Lyra, whose quest to find her kidnapped friend leads her to uncover a secret organisation’s sinister plot, forcing her to protect dangerous secrets. 

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Orphan Lyra lives a sheltered life in Jordan College in Oxford, having been placed there by her uncle, Lord Asriel. However, her life is turned on its head by the arrival of the glamorous and mesmeric Mrs Coulter, who she embarks on a dangerous journey to London with. 

When there, she meets Father MacPhail, Lord Boreal and journalist Adele Starminster at a glittering society party where she learns of the sinister General Oblation Board.

She is subsequently thrown into the nomadic world of the boat-dwelling Gyptians who take her North. Children in that universe are being kidnapped by an unknown group called the Gobblers. 

BBC/Bad Wolf/HBO

There, she meets charismatic aeronaut and adventurer Lee Scoresby, and together, they begin an epic journey across multiple parallel worlds, encountering extraordinary beings. 

It has a stellar cast

While the 2007 film boasted an A-list cast, this series is as equally impressive. 

Mary Poppins Returns star Lin-Manuel Miranda - also known for creating the Hamilton musical - plays aeronaut Lee Soresby, while Luther and The Affair’s Ruth Wilson takes on the role of the glamorous Mrs Coulter. 

BBC/Bad Wolf/HBO
Mrs Coulter, played by Ruth Wilson

Former Shameless star turned Hollywood favourite James McAvoy plays Lyra’s uncle Lord Asriel, while his former Shameless co-star Anne-Marie Duff plays Ma Costa, a fiercely maternal, high-ranking Gyptian.

BBC/Bad Wolf/HBO
Lord Asriel, played by James McAvoy

The Wire star Clarke Peters plays The Master, while Black Mirror’s Georgia Campbell, who won the Bafta for Best Actress in 2015 for her role in Murdered By My Boyfriend appears as Adele Starminster. 

BBC/Bad Wolf/HBO
The Master, played by Clarke Peters

Peaky Blinders star Helen McCrory and former Poirot David Suchet are among the voice cast, lending their voices to some of the weird and wonderful creatures Lyra meets on her quest. 

Lyra is played by 14-year-old Spanish actor Dafne Keen, who previously appeared alongside Hugh Jackman in 2017 superhero film Logan. 

It already has a second series

The series is a co-production between the BBC and US network HBO, and they have already committed to a second series consisting of eight more episodes. In fact, filming has already begun. 

Fleabag starAndrew Scott (aka Hot Priest) is joining the cast as Colonel John Parry.

The trailer shows how big-budget it is

His Dark Materials is said to be one of the most expensive British scripted series ever made, with reports claiming it cost £40 million to produce. 

You can see where the money has been spent in the ridiculously polished trailer. 

The critics are already loving it...

Variety

“Despite the rich complexities of the novel’s world of daemons, power-hungry players and warring faiths, HBO’s His Dark Materials feels like it could have been plucked from most any other fantasy epic out there.”

Daily Mail

“The soundtrack is symphonic, the imagery is panoramic, the magical effects are mesmeric. If you’re going to gamble £40million, this is the way to do it.”

Daily Telegraph

“While His Dark Materials is not, on the basis of the first episode, an all-out extravaganza, it is a fine piece of drama, capturing the strangeness and childlike wonder of the books, but also their rigour and bite. This is intelligent populism writ large.”

Entertainment Weekly

“A Grimm’s fairy tale with themes as big as its budget, HBO’s His Dark Materials is a thoughtful and adventurous adaptation of Philip Pullman’s challenging book series.”

His Dark Materials begins on Sunday 3 November at 9pm on BBC One.