When is His Dark Materials season 2 on BBC One? Will it change The Subtle Knife?

Everything you need to know as we travel back through worlds to season two

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No need to check the alethiometer – season two of His Dark Materials is happening and is well on its way!

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“It’s satisfying satisfying knowing we have another series,” Dafne Keen, who plays Lyra in the series, told RadioTimes.com. “We’re quite sure it’s going to go well.”

And despite the coronavirus pandemic shutting down all sorts of TV productions worldwide, it seems that the second series will still come to TV as planned.

After the disappointing 2007 film, the BBC/HBO televised adaptation of Phillip Pullman’s novels has been a hit with both fans and critics alike and looks to finally complete Lyra’s journey onscreen.

So here’s everything you need to know about season two of this big-budget fantasy…


When is His Dark Materials season 2 on BBC One?

There isn’t a release date for His Dark Materials season two, but don’t expect too long a wait as filming had mostly finished before the first season even premiered – a fact that has also helped the series dodge the filming restrictions of the UK lockdown.

“They’re still working on season one as we’re shooting season two, so it’s an awful lot of work that everyone’s doing,” Ruth Wilson, who plays Mrs Coulter, told us.

Lee Scoresby actor Lin Manuel-Miranda tweeted that he had completed work on the follow-up season as early as 27th September 2019, and the rest of the cast were done by mid-December.

“It’s quite nice in a way, because we’re just getting it all done beforehand,” Ruth Wilson said. “We’re still focussed, we’re still working really hard, we just haven’t really had a reaction to it yet. You just keep ploughing on, hoping you’re doing alright!”

“But we can’t do anything about it, you’ve just got to get on with it and hope for the best. Maybe in the last month we’ll be like ‘argh, no, reshoot!'”

Season two is currently expected to air in the same November/December airdates as season one, and executive producer Jane Tranter recently confirmed that the series would still be released this year despite the coronavirus pandemic.

“Post-production is continuing with characteristic intensity and energy, but now filtered down over BlueJeans,” she said.

“But rest assured, season 2 is coming and will be on air before the end of the year!”


What will happen in season His Dark Materials season 2?

His Dark Materials
His Dark Materials

His Dark Materials is set in a pre-industrial parallel world where everyone has ‘daemons’: physical representations of a person’s soul usually as an animal. Season one saw 12-year-old Lyra Belacqua set out to the frozen North to save her kidnapped friend Roger, where she learns some revelations about her uncle Lord Asriel and his investigations into ‘Dust.’

As season one was based on the first novel in Phillip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy, season two will be based on the second instalment The Subtle Knife.

The book sees Lyra continue her investigation into the mysterious Dust and search for her father, and together with new companion Will Parry (played by Amir Wilson) she explores strange new worlds.

“It’s bigger, better, darker. A lot darker,” Amir Wilson told RadioTimes.com. “Three words to describe it? I’d say adventure, bravery…and knives.”

Amir Wilson as Will Parry and Dafne Keen as Lyra in His Dark Materials (BBC)
Amir Wilson as Will Parry and Dafne Keen as Lyra in His Dark Materials (BBC)

Meanwhile, Lee Scoresby (Lin-Manuel Miranda) must track down the mysterious Grumman in his balloon, meaning Miranda had to be separated from his on-set friend Dafne.

“I don’t get any time with her! Very little, if any,” he told RadioTimes.com.

“So I’m gonna miss her, honestly. It’s weird to be in Cardiff and not spend every day with Dafne. But it’s the next facet of the story, and I’m excited to tell it.”

New episodes will feature Cittàgazze, a city in a parallel world haunted by soul-eating creatures called Spectres, which has been impressively built in its entirety on the lots of Bad Wolf studios in Cardiff.

However, expect a few changes – some elements of The Subtle Knife worked their way into season one, most notably Lord Boreal crossing over into “our” world and co-lead character Will beginning his Subtle Knife storyline in the latter half of the series.

James McAvoy as Lord Asriel in His Dark Materials episode 7 (BBC)
James McAvoy as Lord Asriel in His Dark Materials episode 7 (BBC)

Plus, with key characters like James McAvoy’s Lord Asriel absent in The Subtle Knife, it’s not hard to imagine screenwriter Jack Thorne finding a way to include them.

“I’m still waiting to read that and it had better be good – because the book’s perfect as it is, so if they’re going to thrust me into it it had better be worth it,” McAvoy told RadioTimes.com earlier this year.  “Fingers crossed it’ll warrant it.

“Asriel’s storyline in book two, what he’s getting up to we hear snippets of and all that – so if we can actually portray some of that it might be a fun thing, as long as it doesn’t rob the narrative elsewhere.

“It might actually be a fun thing for fans of the books to see this thing that they’d only heard little snippets of but never actually got to read a whole chapter of in the books. That might just be like an Easter Egg, an extra nugget, adding stuff rather than changing stuff.”


Who is in the cast of His Dark Materials season 2?

His Dark Materials trailer, YouTube
His Dark Materials trailer, YouTube

All the main cast return, including Logan’s Dafne Keen as feisty heroine Lyra Belacqua, X-Men star James McAvoy as Lord Asriel, Luther’s Ruth Wilson as the terrifying Mrs Coulter, Lin Manuel-Miranda as aeronaut Lee Scoresby and newcomer Amir Wilson as Lyra’s new BFF Will Parry.

The impressive ensemble cast will also see the reappearance of Ruta Gedmintas as witch queen Serafina Pekkala and Joe Tandberg and Helen McCrory as the voice of armoured bear Iorek Byrnison and Lord Asriel’s demon Stelmaria respectively. 

There are also some new additions – after a series of cameos in season one, Fleabag star Andrew Scott will star as Will’s father Colonel John Parry/ Jopari.


How many episodes of His Dark Materials season 2 will there be?

As with season one, the second season will comprise of eight episodes.

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This should cover all the events depicted in The Subtle Knife and possibly beyond, with season three thought to have a higher amount of episodes to adapt the third book (The Amber Spyglass) in the trilogy.