The British public broadcaster will air it first on Sunday, November 3, and HBO — which co-produced the fantasy epic — will air it in a Monday night slot on November 4. The WarnerMedia-owned premium cabler also will air it internationally where it has networks and streaming services.
The first season of His Dark Materials, which is written by Jack Thorne, follows Lyra (Dafne Keen), whose search for a kidnapped friend uncovers a sinister plot involving stolen children and becomes a quest to understand a mysterious phenomenon called Dust. As she journeys through the worlds, including our own, Lyra meets a determined and courageous boy named Will (Amir Wilson). Together they encounter extraordinary beings and dangerous secrets, with the fate of both the living — and the dead — in their hands. James McAvoy plays Lord Asriel, who has a demon in the form of a snow leopard. Ruth Wilson’s villainess Mrs. Coulter has a monkey. Lin-Manuel Miranda plays Lee Scoresby, a Texan who flies air balloons. He revealed that when we first see his character, he’s singing with his demon.
The cast of the drama, which is produced by Bad Wolf and New Line Cinema, also includes Anne-Marie Duff, Clarke Peters, Ariyon Bakare, Will Keen, Ian Gelder, Georgina Campbell, Lucian Msamati, James Cosmo, Mat Fraser, Geoff Bell, Simon Manyonda as well as young actors Lewin Lloyd, Daniel Frogson and Tyler Howitt. Voice stars include Peaky Blinders’ Helen McCrory, Poirot’s David Suchet and comedian Cristela Alonzo.
Executive producing the series are Dan McCulloch, Jane Tranter, Joel Collins and Julie Gardner for Bad Wolf; Philip Pullman, Jack Thorne, Tom Hooper, Otto Bathhurst; Deborah Forte, Toby Emmerich and Carolyn Blackwood for New Line Cinema; and Ben Irving and Piers Wenger for BBC One.
Thorne admitted that the series was “challenging” to adapt and that he wrote several dozen drafts for the first episode. “We wrote papers to ourselves about all the different ideas in the show. We wanted to do a Ph.D. in Phillip Pullman and we tried to do a Ph.D. in His Dark Materials. I wrote 46 drafts of episode one in order to find a way to tell this story as elegantly as possible. [Pullman’s] denseness is a blessing and a curse; it’s so exciting. Sometimes when you’re doing an adaptation of something there’s a moment when you know everything there is to know. With Phillip you never can. It’s a very challenging show to write but also glorious to write,” he said at TCA.
HBO and the BBC have committed to an initial 16-part run across two seasons with the show filmed in Wales. Bad Wolf chief Tranter called it a “quintessential” co-production between the British public broadcaster and the WarnerMedia premium cable network. “We started with the BBC because Philip Pullman is a [British] national treasure and the books are on the national curriculum and it felt right that it would have a place in the UK with one of its broadcasters. It [also] felt to us that we have premium cable performances and production values and that sense of glorious eccentricity to His Dark Materials is like no other, it felt very HBO to us and HBO and the BBC are very good partners,” she added.
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