Lyra's Jordan is the first episode in the first series of the TV series. It was originally released on 3 November 2019 on BBC One and on 4 November 2019 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 is handed the baby by Asriel who then declares the privilege of scholastic sanctuary on the baby, explaining that 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 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; Lyra is excited by this as she wants to go to the North with him. After tricking Charles into going out of the room, the two flee through the window and jump over the roofs towards the Retiring Room, a room no female is ever allowed into. As she tries to enter the room, Wren (the Butler) enters and she hides beneath the window. From outside, she sees the Master send Wren away before shakily poisoning a bottle of Tokay, the bottle the Butler had placed for her uncle.

When Asriel enters the room, which the Master has left, in order to set up for his presentation, 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 tells the scholars that he wanted to find out what had happened to the Grumman expedition. He shows the scholars his photograms of the North: his first is Dust coming down from the Aurora and being attracted to a man but not a child (which causes uproar amongst the scholars); he then tells the scholars that his next discovery is more heretical (prompting a caution by the Master) and shows a photogram of the Aurora before showing his third of the same scene but with a special emulsion. This photogram shows a city in the sky which belongs to another world. The Master condemns this and tells the scholars to leave but Asriel, to end, shows the head which he claims belongs to Stanislaus Grumman, a former scholar of the college. He proceeds to ask for a large amount of funding for his cause.

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 silver the gyptians have offered and placed on Tony's finger. His mother, Ma Costa, orchestrates the ceremony and asks to the crowd who will help guide her son to which Benjamin de Ruyter offers himself. Benjamin 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 Tony complains to his mother that he has been pestering him, Ma Costa tells Tony that he needs to remind Billy that he's still his big brother. Billy, meanwhile, travels out of sight of the other gyptians before getting kidnapped by a man with a fox-dæmon whilst Tony calls out to him, trying to find him.

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 whether he got the money he asked for and he tells her they did. She then asks him what Dust is and whether she can see Grumman's head, but he refuses both 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 to make a journey and, at some point, will betray someone.

Roger talking to Lyra

The following morning, Roger brings Lyra breakfast where Lyra talks about what happened the night before and Roger tells her news of Billy being missing and how he thinks that he was kidnapped by the Gobblers to which Lyra scoffs and tels him the Gobblers are a 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, headed by Benjamin, are scouring Oxford for Billy. 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 Jordan, Lyra and Roger talk about going finding a way to the North and Lyra admires the map cut from the paint on her wall. 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

At dinner that evening, the Master introduces Lyra to Marisa Coulter and she talks to her, taking a quick liking to her, even ignoring Roger when he comes to serve her. 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 to. As Lyra and Pan discuss telling him, Roger is putting away crates and a fox and a singing man walk up behind him. On the gyptian boats, Tony comforts his mother as she cries about Billy.

Lyra screaming Roger's name

The following morning, Lyra is told by Charles to see the Master urgently. 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, and one of only six which Lyra at first refuses because she doesn't want secrets, but is soon convinced otherwise. 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, nor Cousins, nor Eric. She runs over the roofs and in the catacombs but can't find him anywhere.

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

Lyra inside the zeppelin

Lyra tells Marisa about Roger going missing and the Gobblers, she replies that they will go to London and succeed in finding him there. 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 it just in time. During the flight to London. Lyra starts to discuss Roger but is halted by Marisa who says that airships aren't good places to talk. Whilst looking out the window, Lyra sees the gyptian boats leaving Oxford too. Roger is also leaving Oxford in the back of a van and bangs on the door of the van to try and escape.[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] 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] "Lyra's Jordan" comes from the title of the third chapter of Northern Lights.


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 episode was first shown to the public at BFI Southbank in London on 15 October 2019[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 broadcast was on 3 November 2019 at 8pm GMT in the UK on BBC One and on 4 November 2019 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 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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