BBC One has teamed with former Controller of Fiction Jane Tranter to produce a TV series adaptation of Philip Pullman’s trilogy of novels His Dark Materials, TVWise has learned. The project has received an order for 8 episodes and will be shot on location in Wales.
“It is an honour to be bringing Philip Pullman’s extraordinary novels to BBC One”, said the BBC’s Controller of Drama Commissioning Poly Hill, who commissioned the series alongside BBC One Controller Charlotte Moore. “His Dark Materials is a stunning trilogy, and a drama event for young and old – a real family treat that shows our commitment to original and ambitious storytelling.”
His Dark Materials follows Lyra – an orphan who lives in a parallel universe in which science, theology and magic are entwined – as she searches for a kidnapped friend, which ultimately turns into a quest to understand a mysterious phenomenon called Dust. 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
The trilogy of novels (Northern Lights, The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass) were first published between 1995 and 2000, scoring numerous accolades and going on to sell more than 17 million copies, translated into 40 languages. This is of course not the first time the property has been adapted for screen. In 2007 New Line Cinema produced a feature film adaptation of Northern Lights under its U.S. title The Golden Compass. That film, starring Nicole Kidman, Daniel Craig and Eva Green, was a box office success and there were plans to produce adaptations of the next two novels, but the 2008 economic crisis lead to those sequels being put on hold.
New Line Pictures, who produced the 2007 feature film and hold the adaptation rights to the books, are involved with the BBC series and will produce in association with Bad Wolf, the production company that was recently launched by Jane Tranter and Julie Gardner. Original author Philip Pullman is also involved and will serve as an executive producer alongside Jane Tranter, Julie Gardner, Toby Emmerich, Carolyn Blackwood, Bethan Jones and Deborah Forte.
“In recent years we’ve seen the way that long stories on television can reach depths of characterisation and heights of suspense by taking the time for events to make their proper impact and for consequences to unravel”, Pullman said. “And the sheer talent now working in the world of long-form television is formidable. For all those reasons I’m delighted at the prospect of a television version of His Dark Materials. I’m especially pleased at the involvement of Jane Tranter, whose experience, imagination, and drive are second to none. As for the BBC, it has no stronger supporter than me. I couldn’t be more pleased with this news.”
“It is an honour and a joy to be part of the team responsible for bringing Philip Pullman’s trilogy of novels to the BBC. Ever since they were first published these books have been a huge influence on so much of my thinking and imagination and it is enormously inspiring to be now working on them for television adaptation”, added Tranter. “To say that I am grateful to Philip Pullman and to Toby and Carolyn at New Line Cinema for entrusting this to Bad Wolf is an understatement and we will give everything that we have to rise to the challenge of doing justice to these great works and to the responsibility that Philip and the incomparable BBC have bestowed on us.”