BBC Gives “His Dark Materials” a Second Chance at a First Impression


Confession time: when I saw The Golden Compass, I really enjoyed it. I saw it with a friend of mine who was a giant fan of Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy, and I couldn’t understand why she was so annoyed with the film. It was so pretty! And talking polar bears! She persuaded me to read the books, and when I did, I realized why she had been so disappointed in the movie. The Golden Compass movie did not adequately capture the magic of the book; it tried too hard to please everyone and in the end pleased no one.

Well, now fans of the series are getting another chance at happiness. BBC One announced this morning that they are commissioning a series based on the books! (Wow, today I learned that the first book is called Northern Lights pretty much everywhere but North America.) Said author Pullman:

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, for one, am extremely excited about this new project. I’ve become such a fan of the books, and I’m eager to see them on screen again, hopefully in a more faithful adaptation that tries to stick closer to the source material rather than watering down the more controversial aspects in order to please a wider audience. Niche shows can do rather well by only appealing to a specific group; after all, do you think The Walking Dead worries about being acceptable for everyone, or being true to the story?

It’s also reassuring to know that the people who will be working on the show are fans themselves. Says Jane Trantor, executive producer:

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.

His Dark Materials is a joint venture from the UK/US production company Bad Wolf and New Line Cinema. It will be the first commission for Bad Wolf and the first television production for New Line. Philip Pullman will be one of the executive producers, along with Julie Gardner and Jane Trantor (from Bad Wolf), Toby Emmerich and Carolyn Blackwood (New Line Cinema), Bethan Jones (BBC One) and Deborah Forte (Scholastic).

What do you guys think? Are you excited about a new chance for an adaptation? Let us know in the comments!

Author: Jamie Sugah

Jamie has a BA in English with a focus in creative writing from The Ohio State University. She self-published her first novel, The Perils of Long Hair on a Windy Day, which is available through Amazon. She is currently an archivist and lives in New York City with her demon ninja vampire cat. She covers television, books, movies, anime, and conventions in the NYC area.

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6 thoughts on “BBC Gives “His Dark Materials” a Second Chance at a First Impression

  1. I myself enjoyed the Golden Compass (haven’t read the books though). But yeah making a TV series out of a book series does allow for more focus on character and world building so excited to know this show is being made.

  2. I agree that the movie did not do the book justice. But for what it was, I found it really enjoyable! I am excited about the prospect for a TV adaption of the books!

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