EXCLUSIVE: Fresh from his historic triple nominations in three separate BAFTA TV categories last week, Jack Thorne has signed on to adapt Philip Pullman’s epic trilogy of fantasy novels His Dark Materials for BBC One. In its first foray into British 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.
“It is such an honor and a privilege to be given this opportunity to delve into Philip Pullman’s world,” said Thorne, one of the hottest writers in the UK. “The His Dark Materials trilogy are vast and glorious books full of beautiful characters and I’m going to work as hard as I can to try and do justice to them.”
“I’m delighted to welcome Jack Thorne as writer on the TV dramatisation of His Dark Materials,” added Pullman. “Jack is a writer of formidable energy and range, and I’ve greatly enjoyed talking to him and learning about his plans for bringing His Dark Materials to the screen. I’m certain he’ll do a superb job, and I look forward to seeing the whole project develop as he shapes the story.”
His Dark Materials has been published in more than 40 languages and has sold worldwide close to 17.5 million copies. 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 produced 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.
Thorne has been on a roll ever since he first emerged as one of the country’s most distinctive writers with his work on youth-oriented series Skins, itself a breeding ground for a generation of British actors. Dev Patel, Nicholas Hoult and Jack O’Connell, for example, all starred in the show.
Still only 37, Thorne has nevertheless notched up an impressive array of film and TV credits already. He has won two BAFTA TV awards, for This Is England ’88 and The Fades, as well as taking home the London Film Festival’s best British newcomer award for his feature debut The Scouting Book For Boys. He co-wrote A Long Way Down with Nick Hornby, starring Pierce Brosnan, and most recently wrote Sky Atlantic’s well-received crime series The Last Panthers, with Tahar Rahim and Samantha Morton, for which he has received a best drama series BAFTA nomination last week. Thorne also got noms for best mini-series for his work on Shane Meadows’ This Is England ’90 and completed his hat-trick with a third nom for best single drama for Don’t Take My Baby.
His latest miniseries, an original four-parter for Channel 4, National Treasure, starring Robbie Coltrane, Julie Walters and Andrea Riseborough is currently in production. The Forge is producing.
Thorne is repped by Casarotto, Ramsay and Associates and WME.