His Dark Materials is a British television series commissioned by the BBC as an adaptation of the eponymous trilogy of novels of the same name by Philip Pullman. Series 1, written by Jack Thorne and spanning 8 episodes, was announced in 2015 with filming starting in 2018.

Series 1 first aired on 3 November 2019 on BBC One and was released internationally from 4 November by HBO. Series 2 was commissioned before Series 1 had begun airing and, despite COVID-19, will air, in the UK on 8 November 2020 and internationally from 16 November. Further series have not yet been announced

His Dark Materials is a drama series and is set in a parallel world, following the story of Lyra Belacqua, her dæmon Pantalaimon, Iorek Byrnison and also of William Parry. It has been rated as TV-14 in the US.[5]

Background[edit | edit source]

Series 1 is based upon the events of Northern Lights and follows the story of Lyra Belacqua on her quest in search of her missing friend, Roger Parslow, where she encounters witches, Panserbjørne like Iorek Byrnison, gyptians, and aëronauts whilst finding out about Dust. It also introduces Will.

Series 2 is based upon the events of The Subtle Knife and follows Lyra and Will in Cittàgazze.

Cast[edit | edit source]

Lead roles[edit | edit source]

Angels[edit | edit source]

Bolvangar staff[edit | edit source]

Children[edit | edit source]

Dæmons[edit | edit source]

Gyptians[edit | edit source]

Jordan College staff[edit | edit source]

Magisterium[edit | edit source]

Panserbjørne[edit | edit source]

Witches[edit | edit source]

Other[edit | edit source]

Production[edit | edit source]

Film adaptation[edit | edit source]

Main article: The Golden Compass (film)

After successes of the Lord of the Rings film trilogy, the His Dark Materials books, which were published between 1995 and 2000, were optioned. This led to the development of the 2007 film, The Golden Compass. However, the film removed some of the key areas of the book, like references to religion and the Holy Church, which Chris Weitz (director of the film) blamed for the shortcomings. The Catholic Church called for a boycott, and New Line got spooked. Sam Elliott blamed the Church for forcing the cancellations of the sequels, while some believed poor reviews may have been the reason.

Development[edit | edit source]

Philip Pullman, in his 2012 Mother Jones interview, was interested in giving His Dark Materials another shot, this time as a television series. The BBC, in November 2015, publicly announced plans to adapt the book series into a television series in association with Bad Wolf and HBO. Pullman was named the series' executive producer along with Deborah Forte.[2]

Pre-production[edit | edit source]

Pre-production was originally planned for autumn 2016, with the project announced in 2015, but casting was only in the process of finalisation in early 2018.[7]

Filming[edit | edit source]

Series 1 clapperboard

Series 2 clapperboard

The first series was filmed mainly in the UK (Cardiff and Oxford) and the Arctic (although the cast never filmed there).[7] On 14 December 2018, it was announced via Twitter that filming for the first series had wrapped.[8]

Cittàgazze being built at Bad Wolf Studios

Series 2 began filming in June 2019 at various locations across the UK[9] although filming officially began during the week of the 29th July with filming going on for five months until just before Christmas.[10] However, they finished only seven out of eight before the COVID-19 pandemic hit[11] and the eighth episode (a standalone episode about Lord Asriel) which was filmed in March 2020 was not completed before work on TV productions was halted due to the pandemic.

A further series covering the adaptation of The Amber Spyglass has not been approved as of yet. The show was originally said to cover 5 series but it has since been stated that each book will only have one series.[12] Jane Tranter has said that a third series covering The Amber Spyglass might need more than eight episodes[13] and added in April 2020 that they are 'about to start developing' the scripts for Series 3.[14] According to Business Live, Series 3 will begin filming in Spring 2021 (although this has not been confirmed nor commissioned).[15]

Release[edit | edit source]

Trailers[edit | edit source]

The first peek at the first series was released by the BBC on 24 February 2019 with subsequent trailers following on 17th May, 19th July (part of the San Diego Comic Con panel), 25th August, 3rd October, and the final one on 21st October. Short clips from each episode was uploaded onto the BBC Programmes website prior to its broadcast.

For Series 2, the first trailer was released on 23rd July (part of the San Diego Comic Con At Home) and a second and third on 28th August (one by the BBC and the other by HBO). A fourth 'official' trailer was released exclusively by HBO on 15th October (the same day as Serpentine was released) and a fifth trailer was released by the BBC on 24th October.

Broadcast[edit | edit source]

On 18 July, 2019, the show hosted a panel at San Diego Comic Con where an Autumn 2019 release date was announced and an extended trailer revealed.[16] A preview of the show in London was premiered by the BFI on October 15[17] and another in Cardiff the following day.

The first series is split into episodes of 8 each roughly an hour long. The first episode, Lyra's Jordan, aired on 3 November 2019 in the UK and 4 November internationally; however Dafne Keen's mother revealed in August 2019 on Instagram (since deleted) that the release would be on 3 November. The series aired (in the UK) exactly four years after the production for the show was planned.[18] The day/a few days before each episode was aired, a teaser clip was released on the BBC website.

The show aired normally at 8pm GMT in the UK and 9pm ET in the US. The earlier UK slot, rather than the typical 9pm slot for Sunday-night dramas, allowed younger children the chance to watch it live.[19] The only exception to this was the seventh episode (The Fight to the Death) which began an hour later in the UK due to the live event 'BBC Sports Personality of the Year', this was later pushed back to 9:10 because the event ran over.

An early preview of the sixth episode, The Daemon-Cages, took place at Mayfair Theatre with the Royal Television Society, three days prior to its broadcast on the BBC. All episodes from Series 1 were released onto BBC iPlayer following their broadcast until 21 June 2020 however, upon this date, their availability was extended indefinitely. All episodes are available in UHD.

Following the full series broadcast, a rewatch of the first episode was staged on 26 April 2020 where various members of the cast and crew posted details about the series. Just after the rewatch, the programme Making His Dark Materials was released onto BBC iPlayer and showed the making of the series.

On 9 July 2020 (the 25th anniversary of the original publication of Northern Lights), mirroring the previous year, it was announced that the show would host another panel at Comic Con on 23 July, although this time remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The first full trailer for the second series was released at this time.[20] At the panel, it was revealed that one of the standalone episodes in the second series had not been completed and would not air leaving the series with only 7 episodes. On 28th August, in a BBC trailer, it was announced that the show would air in November.

A preview of the first episode will take place in BFI Southbank on 2 November.[21] On 12 October, it was confirmed that the series would be aired by HBO on 16 November. On 24 October, a small trailer and featurette was released by the BBC which announced that the UK release date would be 8 November, over a week before the US.

Home media[edit | edit source]

Series Release date
DVD Blu-ray
Region 2 Region 1 Region B Region B (steelbook) Region A
1 27 January 2020 4 August 2020 27 January 2020 27 January 2020 4 August 2020

Region 2 DVD, Blu-ray, and steelbook editions of the first series were posted on Amazon UK in late 2019 and were then published on 27 January, 2020.[22][23] All three copies included all eight episodes, four art cards, and several non-exclusive bonus features about the making of the series: Introducing His Dark Materials, The Daemons: His Dark Materials, Building His Dark Materials, Dressing His Dark Materials, and Adapting His Dark Materials (which were made available on the BBC website prior to the DVD release). There were three discs in total.

A Region 1 DVD and blu-ray were announced on 14 May 2020 for a release date on 4 August 2020 by Warner Bros. Home Entertainment. Split over two discs, there are: the eight episodes, interviews with the cast and four of the Region 2 bonus features as well as the exclusive Making His Dark Materials programme.[24]

Merchandise and book tie-ins[edit | edit source]

Scholastic published Northern Lights, The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass TV tie-in books on 3 October 2019 in the UK[25][26][27] and 1 October in the US.[28]

Jane Tranter stated on Twitter that any merchandising would have to come from BBC Studios and HBO.[29]

Soundtracks[edit | edit source]

The first soundtrack for the series, The Musical Anthology of His Dark Materials, was released on 3 November 2019[30] with the second, His Dark Materials Original Television Soundtrack, was released on 20 December 2019.[31]

Episodes[edit | edit source]

Series 1[edit | edit source]

# Episode name Directed by Written by Original airdate (UK) Original airdate (US)
1 Lyra's Jordan Tom Hooper Jack Thorne 3rd November 2019 4th November 2019
2 The Idea of North Tom Hooper Jack Thorne 10th November 2019 11th November 2019
3 The Spies Dawn Shadforth Jack Thorne 17th November 2019 18th November 2019
4 Armour Otto Bathurst Jack Thorne 24th November 2019 25th November 2019
5 The Lost Boy Otto Bathurst Jack Thorne 1st December 2019 2nd December 2019
6 The Daemon-Cages Euros Lyn Jack Thorne 8th December 2019 9th December 2019
7 The Fight to the Death Jamie Childs Jack Thorne 15th December 2019 16th December 2019
8 Betrayal Jamie Childs Jack Thorne 22nd December 2019 23rd December 2019

Series 2[edit | edit source]

# Episode name Directed by Written by Original airdate (UK) Original airdate (US)
1 The City of Magpies Jamie Childs TBA 8th November 2020 16th November 2020
2 The Cave Jamie Childs TBA 15th November 2020 23rd November 2020
3 Theft TBA TBA 22nd November 2020 30th November 2020
4 Tower Of The Angels Leanne Welham TBA 29th November 2020 7th December 2020
5 The Scholar William McGregor

& Anthony Byrne

TBA 6th December 2020 14th December 2020
6 Malice Jamie Childs TBA 13th December 2020 21st December 2020
7 Æsahættr Jamie Childs TBA 20th December 2020 28th December 2020

Media[edit | edit source]

Main article: His Dark Materials (TV series)/gallery

Trailers[edit | edit source]

External links[edit | edit source]

Nl 02.jpg
HDM Wiki has 208 images from His Dark Materials (TV series).

Notes and references[edit | edit source]

His Dark Materials TV episodes
Series 1 Lyra's JordanThe Idea of NorthThe SpiesArmourThe Lost BoyThe Daemon-CagesThe Fight to the DeathBetrayal
Series 2 The City of MagpiesThe CaveTheftTower Of The AngelsThe ScholarMaliceÆsahættr
Other Making His Dark Materials


His Dark Materials adaptations
Adaptations His Dark Materials radio playHis Dark Materials stage playHis Dark Materials TV seriesLa Belle Sauvage stage playThe Golden Compass filmNorthern Lights - The Graphic Novel
Music His Dark Materials Original Television SoundtrackLyraThe Golden Compass soundtrackThe Musical Anthology of His Dark Materials
Games The Golden Compass board gameThe Golden Compass video game
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