Too hot for TV: Why one of His Dark Materials’ dæmon animals needed a subtle change for the new BBC series

One CGI character might have been a bit too risqué for Sunday nights in the new Philip Pullman adaptation

Ruth Wilson's Mrs Coulter with her monkey dæmon (BBC)

When it came to adapting His Dark Materials for the BBC, nailing the book series’ dæmon characters was always a priority, with VFX supervisor Russell Dodgson and his team working hard to make sure the magical souls-in-animal form were completely convincing in the finished product.

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“We even went to the point in the story that, in the books the dæmons are always the opposite sex to the character,” Dodgson said when RadioTimes.com visited the His Dark Materials set.

“So we actually got all of our dæmons’ gender correct in terms of their groom and stuff – with one exception.”

That exception? The malevolent golden monkey dæmon of Ruth Wilson’s Mrs Coulter, who plays a big part in the book and the series but had to have something of a gender makeover in the new BBC adaptation.

As for the reason, well…you couldn’t really put it on the TV before the watershed.

“The golden monkey, we kind of hybridised [the gender] a little bit, for a number of reasons,” Dodgson said.

“Partially…male genitalia issues. That’s true. Not going to lie! And also Mrs Coulter’s a bit of an exception as a character, so we did that.”

The Golden Monkey and Pan (BBC)
The Golden Monkey and Pan (BBC)

In the end, we’re sure viewers will accept the one tweak made to His Dark Materials’ verisimilitude – the BBC would be more likely to get complaints about a loose penis roaming the screen at 8pm on Sunday nights than any from fuming zoologists anyway – and to be honest, it’s unlikely that many viewers will notice the difference.

And who knows? Perhaps one day the truly accurate, X-rated His Dark Materials will be released that will allow us to see the golden monkey in all his (ahem) glory.

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His Dark Materials is on BBC One, Sunday night at 8.00pm