Two familiar Scottish faces will star in the new TV programme, coming soon from the BBC
by Alex Nelson
The highly anticipated adaptation of Philip Pullman’s famed His Dark Materials books has been a long time coming, but 2019 should be the year we finally see it on screens.
Following New Line Cinema's failed big-screen adaptation of the first book in 2007, the production company is gearing now up for the release of its TV version of the beloved trilogy of novels for the BBC.
"His Dark Materials is one of the supreme works of imaginative fiction for both children and adults published in the 20th century", said the BBC, and their incoming adaptation looks to be just as epic as Pullman's fantasy novels.
Here's everything you need to know about the long-awaited series.
What is His Dark Materials about?
His Dark Materials charts the story of Lyra, an orphan who lives in a parallel universe in which science, theology and magic are entwined.
Introduced in first book, Northern Lights, Lyra's 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 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.
One distinctive aspect of Pullman's world is the presence of "dæmons", the animal-shaped manifestation of a human's inner-self that almost always stays near its human counterpart.
The first season of the new adaptation will be based on Northern Lights, and since a second season has already been commissioned, it's safe to assume that will be based on the event of The Subtle Knife.
According to WalesOnline, the show will run for five series is total, and bring viewers a total of 40 episodes.
Who stars in it?
His Dark Materials certainly has an impressive cast of familiar names and newer faces who are likely to go on to become stars.
The young lead role of Lyra goes to Dafne Keen, who was last seen as the mutant protege Laura in 2017's gritty X-Men reboot, Logan.
Scottish actors James McAvoy and James Cosmo are also on board, the first as major character Lord Asriel (described in the book as having "powerful shoulders, a fierce dark face, and eyes that seem to flash and glitter with savage laughter"), while the Braveheart and Highlander actor is Farder Coram.
Ruth Wilson (Mrs Wilson) is Marisa Coulter, the former lover of Lord Asriel and one of the main antagonists of Northern Lights, while Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda is Lee Scoresby, a skilled "aëronaut" balloonist from the country of Texas.
Ruta Gedmintas (The Borgias) is witch queen Serafina Pekkala, Ariyon Bakare (New Blood) is Lord Boreal, and Lucian Msamati (Black Earth Rising) is James Faa.
Elsewhere in the large cast are Clarke Peters (The Wire), Anne-Marie Duff (Shameless), Ian Gelder (Game of Thrones), Will Keen (The Crown), Georgina Campbell (Broadchurch), Mat Fraser (American Horror Story), Geoff Bell (Kingsman: The Secret Service), Simon Manyonda (The Bay), and Lewin Lloyd (Taboo).
Who wrote it?
Adapting Pullman's book to the screen is Jack Thorne, who has previously penned episodes of Skins, This Is England and Kiri, and was the writer behind Oscar-nominated 2017 comedy-drama, Wonder.
"It is such an honour and a privilege to be given this opportunity to delve into Philip Pullman's world," said Thorne around the time of the show's announcement.
"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."
The eight part adaptation originally had a premiere date of April 2017. Obviously, the project missed that date, although Thorne told Radio Times that the series was still in pre-production, saying, "It's at an exciting point where we're just throwing things at the page and trying to work out what works and what doesn't."
A number of directors are lined up to helm episodes of the eight-part series, most notably Tom Hooper, who won a Best Director Oscar in 2010 for The King's Speech.
Other directors bringing Pullman's stories to the small screen are Otto Bathurst (Peaky Blinders), Jamie Childs (Doctor Who), Euros Lyn (Kiri), and Dawn Shadforth, who has directed music videos for Kylie Minogue, Oasis and Florence + the Machine.
When can I watch it?
There's still no concrete release date for His Dark Materials, nearly four years from when it was first announced.
It looks likely that it will be broadcast before the end of 2019, with HBO including footage from the new show in a video looking ahead to its most anticipated shows of the year.
The BBC's recently released teaser trailer also says that the programme is "coming soon", so it might not be too long to wait.
A version of this article originally appeared on our sister site, inews