“We wanted fans to have a tiny glimpse of His Dark Materials,” said executive producer Jane Tranter alongside the first teaser for the much-anticipated BBC adaptation of Philip Pullman’s beloved fantasy trilogy.
And on one hand, she’s right, it is a tiny glimpse – just 31 seconds, including credits and end titles – of an eight-part series. On the other hand, there’s actually a lot crammed in there, including introductions to a number of major characters, possible moments from key scenes in the story, plus a first look at a very important magical device…
Watch the teaser for yourself before we unpack everything we spotted…
— BBC Press Office (@bbcpress) February 24, 2019
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As you might expect, we glimpse our young hero Lyra Belacqua – played by newcomer Dafne Keen – several times in the teaser, including in two of the scenes mentioned below.
We’re guessing this particular shot shows her out in the snowy northern wastes of Bolvangar where she finds Mrs Coulter’s research facility.
Here’s our first look as James McAvoy as Lyra’s father Lord Asriel, explorer and academic whose work focuses on the mysterious elementary particles known only as dust…
Ruth Wilson immediately looks every inch the arch, calculating and (despite the actress’s name) ruthless Mrs Coulter, the woman with a diabolical plan in mind…
Creator and star of Hamilton, Lin-Manuel Miranda plays the Texan aeronaut who becomes one of Lyra’s closest allies.
Master of Jordan College
Our first look at The Wire’s Clarke Peters, the head of the Oxford college where Lyra lives, who tries to murder her father Lord Asriel.
Lyra spying at Jordan College…
There are two early scenes in the first His Dark Materials novel Northern Lights in which Lyra conceals herself and learns something she is not supposed to.
Firstly, when she sees the Master of the college add poison to Lord Asriel’s wine and then when she witnesses her father explaining his theories about the mysterious dust.
…and a first glimpse of Pan?
These shots could represent either or both (or neither!) of those moments but it’s worth noting that the characters’ daemons – their ever-present animal companions – are conspicuous by their absence in the trailer, and although it may be wishful thinking we can’t help but wonder whether that indistinguishable smudge in the image below might just be a first tiny glimpse of Lyra’s daemon Pantalaimon…
Is this Iorek Byrnison’s escape?
What’s on the other end of this shot of a rather frightened looking man? We’re putting our our money on it being a giant bear and this being the scene in which Iorek Byrnison reclaims his sky-iron armour and, with Lyra and Lee Scoresby’s help, escapes his miserable life as an alcoholic labourer and heads off for adventure with his new friends …
The intercision machine
A switch is thrown; Lyra screams as she witnesses something horrible – this looks very much like the moment when we first see Mrs Coulter and the General Oblation Board using their ‘intercision’ machine to separate children from their daemons…
Right at the end of the teaser, Dark Materials fans will have spotted the alethiometer – the ‘Golden Compass’ that allows Lyra to harness the power of dust and get truthful answers to the questions she asks of it.
It’s such a brief glimpse that we can’t make out the detail of any of the symbols around the dial – but we can see that it comes in it’s own rather neat little (square, rather than round) case, which snaps shut rather pleasingly – a bit like the clam-shell mobile phone of its time…
His Dark Materials begins on BBC1 later this year