How is His Dark Materials season 2 affected by coronavirus?

The Philip Pullman adaptation has already completed the vast majority of series two filming – but will it dodge the disruption entirely?

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As the coronavirus pandemic continues to cause disruption worldwide, RadioTimes.com will be keeping you updated on the fate of all your favourite TV shows including the already-suspended Line of Duty, Peaky Blinders and Stranger Things – but will those delays also affect Philip Pullman adaptation His Dark Materials?

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Well, despite not being expected to air until later this year the fantasy drama (which stars Dafne Keen, James McAvoy, Lin-Manuel Miranda and Ruth Wilson among others) may be in better shape than many other BBC series, having already completed the vast majority of series two filming in 2019.

Also, RadioTimes.com understands that the rumoured series two airdate – in late autumn/winter 2020, the same as series one in 2019 – is far enough away that the series is not currently considered to be in any significant danger of delay (though of course the situation is changing daily).

But does this mean the series is free from any COVID-19 disruption overall? Well, the answer is a little bit complicated, with a few key scenes still needed to be shot in addition to the usual postproduction process.

When did His Dark Materials season two film?

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)

Unusually, both the first and second series of His Dark Materials were mostly filmed before the first series even began airing on BBC One and HBO, partly to avoid a noticeable onscreen ageing of young cast members like Dafne Keen and Amir Wilson (pictured).

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

Series two (based on Philip Pullman’s The Subtle Knife) wrapped in December 2019, with plans to shoot the as-yet-unconfirmed series three later on when the young cast had aged up a little.

In other words, then, series two is almost in the can – but it’s not all there quite yet. RadioTimes.com understands that some crucial “pick-up” scenes featuring important characters are yet to be shot for the series, after conflicting schedules meant they couldn’t be included in the original production.

These scenes may not be extensive, but would need to be completed before the series could be delivered to the BBC.

Will coronavirus delay the premiere of His Dark Materials season two?

Given how quickly the situation has been changing, it’s hard to know for sure what will happen to any TV show. However, considering how much of His Dark Materials’ filming has already been completed and how long there is until the expected premiere, it looks like this particular series might weather the storm better than most.

Of course, there may still be issues when it comes to the series’ postproduction – it’s currently unclear how much of the editing and VFX work was already underway before the pandemic, or the extent to which this work could be carried out by VFX artists and editors remotely – but compared to other series His Dark Materials is in a fairly strong position.

And while there’s been no official confirmation as such, given how many series originally expected to air in autumn 2020 have had their productions delayed in the past few weeks, it could be that His Dark Materials’ early filming plan will leave it as one of the few major BBC dramas still in place for the crucial autumn/ winter schedules. Though again, everything remains subject to change at this early stage.

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His Dark Materials returns to BBC One in autumn 2020