The BBC have announced the commission of a new drama series based on Philip Pullman’s epic fantasy trilogy of novels, His Dark Materials, to be produced by Bad Wolf and New Line Cinema. This isn’t the first time New Line have tried to bring the trilogy to screen, although the previous effort with the 2007 movie The Golden Compass received decidedly lukewarm reviews… This version however, should fair better, and looks like it will be driven by the team at Bad Wolf… And yes, that is a Doctor Who reference. Bad Wolf is the production company set up by ex-Who, Torchwood and Da Vinci’s Demons execs Jane Tranter & Julie Gardner.
His Dark Materials has been published in more than 40 languages and has sold worldwide close to 17.5 million copies, so it’s fair to say, there’s an audience already out there for it! The trilogy is one of the supreme works of imaginative fiction for both children and adults published in the 20th century. Northern Lights introduces Lyra, an orphan, who lives in a parallel universe in which science, theology and magic are entwined. 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.
Philip Pullman is quoting as saying “In recent years we’ve seen the way that long stories on television, whether adaptations (Game Of Thrones) or original (The Sopranos, The Wire), 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.
“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.”
Jane Tranter, Executive Producer for Bad Wolf adds: “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.
“The broad horizons of television suggests itself as the best of vehicles to capture the expansiveness of the story and worlds of Lyra and Will and I am looking forward to seeing how Northern Lights, The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass will occupy their place in an audience’s imagination across many episodes and seasons.
“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.”
His Dark Materials is the first commission from Bad Wolf and is New Line Cinema’s first move into TV production. The show will be made in Wales for BBC One.