BBC One has ordered an ambitious adaptation of Philip Pullman’s epic trilogy of fantasy novels, His Dark Materials. In its first foray into television, New Line Cinema is producing the event series with Bad Wolf, a UK/U.S. production firm founded by Jane Tranter and Julie Gardner.
The drama was greenlit by BBC One controller Charlotte Moore and BBC Drama Commissioning controller Polly Hill.
The first book, Northern Lights, was turned into a feature titled The Golden Compass in 2007. New Line released that picture starring Daniel Craig and Nicole Kidman. Critical reception was tepid, and it failed to match the box office expectations domestically of New Line and Warner execs hoping for another Lord of the Rings. Ultimately, it made upwards of $370M worldwide.
The novels feature orphan Lyra who lives in a parallel universe, in which science, theology and magic are entwined. Northern Lights introduces Lyra whose search for a kidnapped friend uncovers a sinister plot involving stolen children and turns into a quest to understand a mysterious phenomenon called Dust. In the second book, The Subtle Knife, she is joined on her journey by Will, a boy who possesses a knife that can cut windows between worlds. As Lyra learns the truth about her parents and her prophesied destiny, the two young people are caught up in a war against celestial powers that ranges across many worlds and leads to a thrilling conclusion in The Amber Spyglass.
The series will be made in Wales for BBC One and executive roduced by Pullman, Tranter and Gardner for Bad Wolf; Toby Emmerich and Carolyn Blackwood for New Line; Bethan Jones for BBC One and Deborah Forte for Scholastic. There’s no word yet on timing.
“It’s been a constant source of pleasure to me to see this story adapted to different forms and presented in different media,” says Pullman. “It’s been a radio play, a stage play, a film, an audiobook, a graphic novel — and now comes this version for television. In recent years we’ve seen how long stories on television, whether adaptations (Game of Thrones) or original (The Sopranos, The Wire), can reach depths of characterization and heights of suspense by taking the time for events to make their proper impact and for consequences to unravel.”