Lyra's Jordan is the first episode in the first series of the TV series. It was originally released on 3 November on BBC One and on 4 November on HBO and was watched over 11 million times during the four weeks following the release in the UK.

The episode takes place mainly in Jordan College and introduces the main character of the series, Lyra Belacqua and her friend, Roger Parslow. The episode is 57 minutes long. 46 drafts of this episode were made to ensure it was done right.[1]

Plot[edit | edit source]

"This story starts in another world. One that is both like, and unlike, your own. Here, every human soul takes the physical form of an animal, known as a daemon. The relationship between human and daemon is sacred. This world has been controlled for centuries by the all-powerful Magisterium. Except in the Northern wilderness, where witches secretly whisper of a prophecy. A prophecy about a child with a great destiny. During the great flood, this child was brought to Oxford."
—Text at the beginning of the episode[src]

During the great floods, Lord Asriel takes the baby, Lyra Belacqua, to Jordan College during the floods, flying a gyropter through the streets of Oxford before wading through the water to get to the college. Dr Carne, the Master of Jordan College, opens the door and his handed the baby by Asriel who then declares the privilege of scholastic sanctuary on the baby, explaining she is not safe anywhere else, before leaving.

During the next twelve years, she is brought up at the college, making friends in one of the servant children, Roger Parslow. In one of their races, they run to the Jordan catacombs, a large cellar underneath the college with lots of coffins and skulls as well as alcohol. Upon winning this race, she and Roger talk whilst in the catacombs as to what their dæmons might settle as before Lyra begins to drink.

In the North, Asriel is taking photograms of the Aurora, trying to get one last one before a snowstorm hits him. After scaling down the side of a mountain, he returns to his lodgings where he meets his servant, Thorold who helps look at the photos he took. Asriel tells of a plan to head to Jordan, showing a frozen skull to help prove his case.

The Master poisoning the Tokay

At a lesson with Charles, Pantalaimon, Lyra's dæmon, spies Asriel arriving at the college and, after tricking Charles, the two flees through the window and jump over the roofs towards the Retiring Room, a room no female is ever allowed into. From outside the window, she sees the Master send the Wren, the Butler, away before poisoning a bottle of Tokay, the bottle the Butler had placed for her uncle.

When Asriel enters the room, which the Master has left, to set up he eventually goes to drink the Tokay, sitting at a chair near the window. As he is about to drink, Lyra jumps through the window and knocks it out his hand causing Asriel to grab her and pin her down to the table. After telling him what she saw, Asriel knocks over the rest of the bottle and asks her to hide and spy on the Master during his talk to the scholars, especially watching when the word 'Dust' is mentioned.


His Dark Materials (Season 1 Episode 1 Clip) HBO

Asriel talking to the scholars

After explaining to the Master that the bottle falling was an accident, he gets ready to speak. In the talk, Asriel shows the scholars his photograms of the North, including some of a city only seen through the Aurora, one which belongs to another world, Dust travelling from the Aurora to a child and, finally, the head which he claims belongs to Stanislaus Grumman, a former scholar of the college. He proceeds to ask for a large funding for his cause which is granted by the college.

Also in Oxford, the gyptians celebrate the settling of Lyuba, Tony Costa's dæmon, who has settled as a hawk. A ring is cast with metal the gyptians have offered and placed on Tony's finger. His mother, Ma Costa, asks the crowd who will help guide her son to which Benjamin de Ruyter offers himself and gets Tony to swear he will protect and fight for the gyptians' freedom. After the ceremony, Billy Costa, Tony's brother, leaves on his own and travels out of sight of the other gyptians before getting kidnapped by a man with a fox-dæmon.

Dr Carne and Charles

At Jordan, Stelmaria reminds Asriel of his niece who fell asleep where she was and he takes Lyra to her bedroom, taking care of her and putting her in bed, noticing all the messages and images he has sent her hung on the wall by her bed. Lyra, who has been half-awake, asks him what Dust is, but he refuses to tell her and later leaves. Meanwhile, the Master and Charles discuss the poisoning, the Master knowing Asriel had found out by some means. He then discusses Lyra, saying she has a part to play and that the alethiometer said she will have a part to play and, at some point, will betray someone.

Roger talking to Lyra

In the morning, Roger brings Lyra breakfast and tells her news of Billy and how he thought he had been kidnapped by the Gobblers to which Lyra told him the Gobblers area myth. He also tells Lyra that her uncle is leaving. Lyra runs to Asriel but he rejects her offer to go to the North with him and pushes her out of the zeppelin before travelling away so the Magisterium couldn't keep up with him. Roger tells that Lyra is special but Asriel writes him off, telling him that everyone's special.

Hugh MacPhail and Carlo Boreal

The gyptians, however, are scouring Oxford for Billy, searching everywhere they can. Coram van Texel, an advisor, tells Tony that he has been taken by the Gobblers and that he'll be in London and advises John Faa, the Western King, to go there to continue looking for the children. At the Magisterium, Hugh MacPhail and Carlo Boreal talk about what they have found out about the Retiring Room meeting and the heretical subjects that were discussed there. Father MacPhail tells Carlo to find out everything he can about Asriel and what he's up to.

Marisa Coulter talking to Lyra

When Marisa Coulter arrives at Jordan that evening, Lyra takes the opportunity to talk to her and takes a quick liking to her, even ignoring Roger when he comes to serve them. After eating together, Mrs Coulter walks with her to another room and asks her to go to the North with her via London the very next morning. Lyra agrees excitedly and persuades her to invite Roger to come with them to which, after much pleading, she agrees. On the gyptian boats, Tony comforts his mother as she thinks of Billy. At a similar time, Roger is taken by the Gobblers too.

Lyra screaming Roger's name

The following morning, Lyra is told to see the Master by Charles. Lyra tells the Master that she is going with Marisa and he agrees, but tells her he has something else to say. He gives her an alethiometer, a truth-telling device, which Lyra at first refuses. After being convinced, Lyra is warned to keep it completely secret from Mrs Coulter. She proceeds to go looking for Roger to tell him the news but none of the kitchen staff had seen him, nor had Mrs Woodbridge, or Cousins, or Eric.

Ma Costa is informed by John that the gyptians are leaving Oxford for London to seek the children. She tells him Billy will still be in Oxford, looking for them but John disagrees, saying Billy is a good boy and that he would have found a way back to the gyptians if he could.

Lyra inside the zeppelin

After searching, Lyra tells Marisa about Roger. She replies that they will go to London and succeed in finding him. After trying, and failing, to ask the alethiometer where Roger has gone, Lyra runs to the zeppelin which is just about to leave and boards. She and Marisa fly to London, Lyra starting to discuss Roger but being halted by Marisa, whilst looking out the window where Lyra sees the gyptians move too. Roger is also moving from Oxford in the back of a van, banging on the door and metal mesh to let him out.[2]

Release[edit | edit source]

This episode was originally thought to be titled "Roger", from Roger Parslow, after a picture of the script for the first episode was released that showed the name 'Roger' on the front.[3] "Lyra's Jordan" comes from the title of the third chapter of Northern Lights. Jack Thorne, in a rewatch of the first episode of the series, later confirmed this on Twitter; the reason for the title being "Roger" was to set up his and Lyra's relationship as quickly as possible.[4]


His Dark Materials cast and crew BFI Q&A

An interview with cast and crew of the TV series at the screening of Lyra's Jordan at BFI Sandbank

The show was first shown to the public at BFI Southbank in London on 15 October with tickets going on sale on 24 September[5][6] and, the following day, at a screening in Cardiff before being shown at a variety of screenings in the US and around the globe.

The original release was on 3 November at 8pm GMT in the UK on BBC One and on 4 November at 9pm ET in the US.[7] In the UK, nearly 7.2 million viewers watched the show live making it the biggest British TV drama since The Musketeers nearly 6 years prior.[8] It was watched over 9.722 million times on all platforms in the week following the release in the UK and over 11.43 million times during the 28 days following its release making it the most-viewed programme in the 28 days after released that week.[9] Directly following the first episode, a repeat of the imagine... documentary Philip Pullman: Angels and Daemons was broadcast on BBC Four. In the US, it was watched by around 424 000 viewers live.[10]

Cast[edit | edit source]

Main article: His Dark Materials (TV series)#Cast

Videos[edit | edit source]

External links[edit | edit source]

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
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