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Fleabag and Sherlock stars join cast of His Dark Materials series 3

Sian Clifford and Jonathan Aris will play Gallivespian spies in the Philip Pullman adaptation.

His Dark Materials
Published: Monday, 20th September 2021 at 3:55 pm

The world of fantasy drama His Dark Materials is expanding, with the upcoming third series – based on Philip Pullman’s novel The Amber Spyglass – set to introduce a vast canvas of parallel universes, strange creatures and new characters to become part of Lyra’s (Dafne Keen) adventure.

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And now, RadioTimes.com can exclusively reveal two of the new cast members joining the series when it returns in autumn 2022 – Fleabag star Sian Clifford and Sherlock’s Jonathan Aris, both of whom will play diminutive Gallivespian spies allied with Lord Asriel (James McAvoy).

“I was thrilled when I got the part – I'm just so fascinated by the whole Gallivespian phenomenon,” Aris told RadioTimes.com.

“I'm very, very delighted to be here, and my 12-year-old tells me it's the coolest thing I've ever done.

“It's always a real pleasure to join something you're excited about, and I couldn't be more excited about this.”

In the books, Gallivespians are insect-sized humanoids with a well-developed society and a haughty sense of pride, which makes them a little difficult to get along with. However, their value as spies is incalculable, as is the power of the deadly sting they’re capable of delivering from their heels.

A passage from the book describing them reads: “He was striking to look at: he was no taller than Lord Asriel's hand span, and as slender as a dragonfly, but the rest of Lord Asriel's captains treated him with profound respect, for he was armed with a poisonous sting in the spurs on his heels.

“He and his kind, the Gallivespians, had few of the qualities of good spies except, of course, their exceptional smallness: they were so proud and touchy that they would never have remained inconspicuous if they had been of Lord Asriel's size.”

His Dark Materials

Series stars Dafne Keen and Amir Wilson on the first day of His Dark Materials series 3 filming (BBC)

Clifford will play Agent Salmakia in the series while Aris will play Commander Roke, two characters who appear in the original text (albeit under the slightly different titles of Lady Salmakia and Lord Roke). Meanwhile, a third Gallivespian character from the books named Chevalier Tialys appears to have been cut from the screen adaptation, with elements of his character presumably merged with Salmakia’s.

Clifford is best known for her role in acclaimed comedy-drama Fleabag, where she plays older sister Claire, though she has also recently starred in Vanity Fair, Quiz, Liar and Inside No. 9. Aris, meanwhile, drew international fame for his performance as forensic scientist Anderson in Sherlock, and has also racked up roles in Dracula, The Game, Star Wars: Rogue One, Good Omens and The End of the F***ing World.

Coincidentally, both have been co-stars of actor Andrew Scott in Fleabag and Sherlock respectively. Scott previously played the role of Jopari in seasons one and two of His Dark Materials, though following the character's death in season two it seems unlikely he'll reprise the role for the new series.

Other castings and characters from the book are yet to be confirmed, though it's probable that more will be announced in the coming months. And in the meantime, fans can take some comfort in the fact that two of Pullman’s more unusual characters are soon to fly onto TV screens around the country. Now, all we have to do is wait...

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His Dark Materials season three will air on BBC One in 2022. For more, check out our dedicated Fantasy page or our full TV Guide.

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