Philip Pullman’s Dark Materials trilogy is getting another shot at screen success. The popular fantasy novels are being adapted for BBC1.
It’s easy to see why the tale, complete with parallel universes, daemons, witches, talking polar bears, magic knives and an unknown, all-powerful enemy, lends itself to to the small, and big, screen.
Pullman’s fantastical tale is made up of three parts – Northern Lights, The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass – with the first instalment adapted for cinema and renamed The Golden Compass. But while the 2007 film boasted an impressive cast, including Nicole Kidman, Daniel Craig and Dakota Blue Richards, it failed to impress with critics or at the box office and no further movies were made.
The stories have also been the subject of controversy since their release in the late 90s and early 00s, with some religious groups dubbing the tale an anti-Catholic allegory, a theme that was diluted for cinema audiences.
This new attempt to adapt His Dark Materials is the first commission for production company Bad Wolf, run by former Doctor Who producers Jane Tranter and Julie Gardner.
Author Pullman is on board and will executive produce the new BBC1 series alongside Tranter and Gardner, as well as New Line Cinema.
“It’s been a constant source of pleasure to me to see this story adapted to different forms and presented in different media. It’s been a radio play, a stage play, a film, an audiobook, a graphic novel — and now comes this version for television,” Pullman said. “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.”
Tranter called the project “an honour and a joy,” adding: “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 will be filmed in Wales.