The Radio Times logo

His Dark Materials writer says it was "really upsetting" to lose series two's James McAvoy episode

The all-new chapter was a casualty of the pandemic.

James McAvoy as Lord Asriel in His Dark Materials episode 7 (BBC)
Published: Monday, 9th November 2020 at 1:02 pm

His Dark Materials writer Jack Thorne has spoken out on the axing of James McAvoy's standalone season two episode, which was scrapped due to the coronavirus pandemic.


McAvoy plays Lord Asriel in the BBC One fantasy series, father to lead character Lyra Belacqua (Dafne Keen), but is absent from season two.

Thorne had written a new self-contained story with cooperation from author Philip Pullman that was to explain the character's whereabouts, but production on the special episode ground to a halt as COVID-19 began to spread.

Speaking to, Thorne said that the episode is now unlikely to see the light of day, stating: "I don’t think that would be quite right."

He continued: "It was the hardest thing I’ve had to write for His Dark Materials by quite some distance, and we got four hours in and then it was like, shutters. Which was really upsetting but we were so much luckier than most, so we can’t complain."

His Dark Materials is an adaptation of Pullman's beloved trilogy of fantasy novels, with the second season tackling the middle entry titled The Subtle Knife, first published in 1997.

Executive producer Jane Tranter had previously discussed what McAvoy's episode would have entailed, during the show's dedicated Comic-Con@Home panel over the summer.

"It was separate from the other seven episodes because it was a standalone episode which Jack had written with the blessing and input of Philip Pullman, which looked at what Asriel had been doing between going through the anomaly at the end of season one and when we see Lord Asriel at the beginning of book three The Amber Spyglass," she said.

At the time, Tranter had suggested that His Dark Materials could "revisit" the episode in the future, but Thorne's comments suggest this may no longer be on the table.

Read more about the His Dark Materials cast (including Ruth Wilson's Mrs Coulter), the His Dark Materials release schedule, the His Dark Materials books and the His Dark Materials age rating, plus find out where His Dark Materials is filmed, including the scenes set in Cittàgazze.


His Dark Materials continues on BBC One on Sunday 15th November at 8:10pm. While you’re waiting, visit our TV Guide to see what’s on tonight, or check out our guide to new TV shows 2020 to find out what's airing this autumn and beyond.


Sponsored content