The long-awaited third season of His Dark Materials is set to debut later this year, with details now beginning to emerge on how the new episodes will deviate from the source material, Philip Pullman's The Amber Spyglass.

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Members of the show's cast and crew attended a panel at this year's Edinburgh International TV Festival, where executive producer Jane Tranter called Pullman's third novel "probably far and away the most complex of the books to adapt".

She noted that Pullman had even been aware of this himself, telling the team before they started development on the new season: "I’m really sorry, I fear I’ve left you with some terrible problems."

Tranter said: "One of those – and it’s not a problem obviously, it’s a wonderful creative challenge and privilege – but one of those is lots of things happen or you’re given a lot of information either through a narrating voice or Asriel is told something offscreen."

James McAvoy as Lord Asriel in His Dark Materials season 3.
James McAvoy as Lord Asriel in His Dark Materials season 3. BBC/HBO

She noted that in season 3 "we had the joy of having James McAvoy back with us" after his character was mostly absent during season 2, and said that as screenwriter Jack Thorne wanted to write for the actor, they were faced with dilemma because "Asriel doesn’t really come in [to the book] until significantly later".

Tranter explained that McAvoy's role is therefore expanded in the series, with a new character added for him to interact with in these new scenes.

Earlier this year at the BFI & Radio Times Television Festival the team behind the show spoke about their feelings as it comes to an end, with star Ruth Wilson saying: "We said goodbye to it last year. And it was sad. It was really sad to say goodbye to monkey and [lead puppeteer] Brian [Fisher] and everyone.

"But we'll work again together. I've loved this job so much because of the collaboration. And it's made it such a special experience."

His Dark Materials returns to BBC One and HBO this autumn. For more, check out our dedicated Fantasy page or our full TV Guide.

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