Variety is reporting that the BBC has greenlit a series based on Philip Pullman’s young-adult fantasy trilogy His Dark Materials, which is comprised of 1995’s Northern Lights (a.k.a. The Golden Compass in the U.S.), 1997’s The Subtle Knife and 2000’s The Amber Spyglass.
The trilogy is set in a theocratic society where people’s souls exist outside their bodies in the form of animals called “daemons”. Northern Lights introduces young Lyra Belacqua and features her journey to the Arctic in search of her missing friend and her imprisoned uncle, Lord Asriel, who has been conducting experiments with a mysterious substance known as “Dust”. In The Subtle Knife, Lyra is joined by Will, a boy who wields a knife that can cut doors between worlds. Lyra and Will investigate the mysterious Dust phenomenon and searches for her father. In The Amber Spyglass, the plot escalates towards war as the Church tries to stop the Dust from seeping into their world. The books in the series have been criticised for their attitude to religion, especially Catholicism. That controversy resurfaced during filming of the 2007 film version of The Golden Compass where, ultimately, the religious themes were removed.
Now the trilogy has commissioned by BBC One for an initial eight-part series to be produced by Pullman and BBC executives Jane Tranter and Julie Gardner. Pullman is quoted in the Variety article as saying he is excited about bringing the story to television’s longer, more in-depth format. This one is still in the early stages, so no word yet on the cast.
I, for one, am looking forward to this despite not being a huge fantasy reader. After I finished the series over 10 years ago, I cited the series as being the book that “renewed my faith in fantasy”. It was imaginative and fun. And let’s not forget the armored polar bears!