His Dark Materials episode 1 ratings revealed: How did the fantasy drama fare for BBC One?

The show's first episode was largely met with acclaim from critics and fans

His Dark Materials

The early signs are good for BBC One’s big-budget family drama His Dark Materials, based on the beloved novels of Phillip Pullman, following the show’s debut last night.


Viewing figures reveal that the first episode of the series – which was met with a largely positive reception from critics and fans – drew a peak audience of 7.65 million viewers, and took 35.7 per cent of the audience share.

And although that figure had dropped to 4.73 million by the episode’s conclusion, the show held its audience for most of its running time – with an average viewership of 7.16 million.

The gradual tail off began 45 minutes into the show – so when bearing in mind that the final five minutes of the broadcast was taken up by the trailer for the rest of the series, the signs look very positive indeed.

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

It remains to be seen whether the show will be able to hold this audience for the rest of its run, but the reaction on social media suggests that most viewers – and especially fans of the books – were fully on board with the first episode.

The series will also likely benefit from its place in the schedule, airing directly after constant ratings hit the Strictly Come Dancing results – which attracted 9.67 million viewers last night.

The first episode of the show introduced viewers to orphan Lyra Belacqua, played by Dafne Keen, as she begins her journey away from Jordan College, the fictional Oxford college she has called home since infancy.

The first series, which also stars James McAvoy, Ruth Wilson and Lin-Manuel Miranda, will run for eight episodes in total, covering events up until the end of the first novel in Pullman’s trilogy.


His Dark Materials airs Sundays at 8pm on BBC One