BBC has renewed its in-the-works adaptation of Philip Pullman’s epic fantasy trilogy His Dark Materials for a second season, while the first season – currently being filmed – doesn't even have a release date. That suggests confidence in the creators, which has Jack Throne (Harry Potter and the Cursed Child) as the writer and Oscar-winner Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech) as the lead director.
Deadline brings word of the new development, reporting that the second season of the British series will have eight episodes in total, just as the first. It adds that His Dark Materials is shaping up to be one of the most expensive British scripted shows ever made. Filming began back in July at Wolf Studios Wales in Cardiff, according to BBC, though Deadline claims it started this month.
Later on Wednesday, Deadline revealed that HBO had become a co-producer with BBC on the series and had picked up global broadcasting rights outside the UK, which means His Dark Materials might air on Hotstar in India.
The cast for BBC’s His Dark Materials includes Logan star Dafne Keen as orphan Lyra Belacqua, the young protagonist of the first novel; award-winning Lin-Manuel Miranda (Hamilton) as adventurer Lee Scoresby, James McAvoy (X-Men) as Lyra’s rebellious uncle Lord Asriel, and Ruth Wilson (The Affair) as Asriel’s former lover Marisa Coulter.
Clarke Peters (The Wire), Ian Gelder (Game of Thrones), Will Keen (Wolf Hall), Ariyon Bakare (Rogue One), Georgina Campbell (Black Mirror), Anne-Marie Duff (Shameless), James Cosmo (Game of Thrones), Lucian Msamati (Kiri), Ruta Gedmintas (The Strain), Mat Fraser, and Geoff Bell are also part of the cast.
While Hooper will direct the first two episodes, Dawm Shadforth (Trust) will helm episode three, Otto Bathurst (2018’s Robin Hood) episodes four and five, episode six from Euros Lyn (Doctor Who 2005-10), and Jamie Childs (Doctor Who series 11) will be behind the camera on episodes seven and eight.
Pullman’s trilogy of fantasy novels – 1995's Northern Lights, 1997’s The Subtle Knife, and 2000’s The Amber Spyglass – is the coming-of-age story of two children, Lyra Belacqua and Will Parry, as they travel through parallel universes featuring witches and armoured polar bears. Parry is introduced in the second novel, which is why an actor has yet to be cast.
The books allude to concepts from physics, philosophy and theology, and were controversial for their criticism of religion. A film adaptation of the first book was released in 2007 starring Nicole Kidman, Daniel Craig, and Eva Green, but critical disappointment and opposition from the Catholic Church led to sequels being scrapped.
BBC announced that it was turning Pullman’s trilogy into a TV series back in November 2015 and unveiled its aforementioned cast and crew earlier this year at the start of filming.
Update 13/09 1pm: added mention of episode six director and HBO boarding the series.