His Dark Materials season 3: Release date speculation, cast and latest news
What’s next for Lyra, Will, Lord Asriel and Mrs Coulter? Here’s what you need to know about the upcoming Amber Spyglass adaptation.
It will soon be time to bring the trilogy of His Dark Materials to a close.
The third run of the hit BBC/HBO series will adapt the third novel in the book series of the same name by author Phillip Pullman, The Amber Spyglass.
Series three began production earlier in 2021, with star James McAvoy revealing in June 2021 that filming had begun again in Wales after some COVID-based delays.
"We're doing that down in Wales at the moment," he told BBC Breakfast. "I'm driving back down there in a couple of hours to do a big set-piece with my snow leopard Stelmaria, and I'm excited to be back for season three."
However, we can now confirm that the third season has finished filming.
The show's official Twitter page penned on November 26: "It has been an incredible six year journey through the Worlds of #HisDarkMaterials, but it’s time to close the doors on the final chapter. That’s a wrap on Season 3".
We're certainly going to miss this show!
According to McAvoy, we can also expect "a lot of fisticuffs and a lot of explosions" in the "down and dirty" action.
So, when will His Dark Materials season 3 come out, what will happen and which cast will be returning?
Find out everything you need to know below.
Read more about the His Dark Materials cast, James McAvoy's cut episode, the His Dark Materials release schedule and the His Dark Materials age rating, plus find out where His Dark Materials is filmed, including the scenes set in Cittàgazze. And why not look at our latest His Dark Materials review?
His Dark Materials season 3 release date speculation
His Dark Materials season 3 is expected to arrive on BBC One and BBC iPlayer in the UK in Autumn 2022.
The BBC has confirmed that the final series will air in 2022, and that it is unlikely to arrive until Autumn due to the extensive VFX required for the scale of the story.
This means a much later gap than that between seasons one and two, which consecutively aired in autumn 2019 and autumn 2020.
Just a week before the BBC announcement, James McAvoy has suggested that it could come a little earlier, possibly in January of the same year, just a few months "late" – however it feels that the Lord Asriel star was being overly optimistic.
"That kind of question is above my paygrade – but probably at the beginning of next year I reckon, just after Christmas," he told BBC Breakfast.
In other news, it seems likely season three will stick to having eight episodes, even though executive producer Jane Tranter had previously angled for a series four to properly tell the whole story.
“I wanted to split it in two, but we’re doing it in one,” Tranter told Deadline. “You can’t always have what you want.
“The Amber Spyglass is quite right adapted into eight episodes and I will fully and humbly admit I was completely wrong.”
His Dark Materials season 3 cast
The confirmed cast for His Dark Materials season 3 is as follows.
- Dafne Keen as Lyra Belacqua
- Amir Wilson as Will Parry
- Ruth Wilson as Marisa Coulter
- Will Keen as Cardinal Hugh MacPhail
- James McAvoy as Lord Asriel Belacqua
- Ruta Gedmintas as Serafina Pekkala
- Jade Anouka as Ruta Skadi
- Simone Kirby as Dr Mary Malone
- Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje as Commander Ogunwe
- Jamie Ward as Father Gomez
- Lewin Lloyd as Roger
- Kobna Holdbrook-Smith as Balthamos
- Simon Harrison as Baruch
- Amber Fitzgerald-Woolfe as Ama
- Chipo Chung as Xaphania
- Sian Clifford as Agent Salmakia
- Jonathan Aris as Commander Roke
- Kit Connor as the voice of Pantalaimon
- David Suchet as the voice of Kaisa
- Joe Tandberg as Iorek Byrnison (voice and motion-capture)
- Sope Dirisu as the voice of Sergi
- Lindsay Duncan as the voice of Octavia
Series regulars Dafne Keen and Amir Wilson look set to continue their lead roles as Lyra and Will, along with Ruth Wilson’s Mrs Coulter, Simone Kirby’s Mary Malone, Ruta Gedmintas’ Serafina Pekkala and Will Keen’s Father (or rather, Cardinal) MacPhail.
“She goes on a great journey in season three,” Wilson said of her villainous character. “I can’t wait to get back into Mrs Coulter’s boots.”
“It’s quite interesting because this season we make a reference to her mother,” Wilson told the crowd at the BFI and Radio Times Television Festival during the His Dark Materials: Creating Mrs Coulter panel.
“We actually have some sort of outfits that are her mother’s, that are sent to Mrs Coulter. In my head, [she’s] linked up to the Magisterium, the Church.
“Mrs Coulter’s mother was very much part of the Church. So that actually represents, for her, rules and patriarchy. And I think that Mrs Coulter was always a disappointment to her mother in that way.”
Elsewhere, Heartstopper actor Kit Connor will also reprise his role as the voice of Lyra's daemon, Pantalaimon.
James McAvoy is also returning as season one's Lord Asriel after being largely absent from season two (barring a surprise cameo in the final episode), with his character playing a larger role in the book the next season is based on.
The character was due to get his own standalone episode in season 2 but this was cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic, prompting the shorter episode count in the second run.
Similarly, Joe Tandberg’s bear-king Iorek Byrnison will probably return for a larger part after sitting out most of season two.
The season two finale also hints at a return for season one star Lewin Lloyd (who played Lyra’s friend Roger) despite the character’s death.
Series regulars Lin-Manuel Miranda (Lee Scoresby), Ariyon Bakare (Lord Carlo Boreal) and Andrew Scott (Colonel John Parry/Stanislaus Grumman) will presumably not return following each of their character’s deaths in season two – though Roger’s comeback does hint that death isn’t always the end in the world of His Dark Materials.
Perhaps we can expect some cameos from these undead characters in future episodes.
Of course, The Amber Spyglass does introduce some key new characters (including several voice roles) that will need to be introduced – and in June 2021 the BBC announced some new cast members who would be bringing these characters to life.
The newcomers include Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (Game of Thrones) as Commander Ogunwe, Jamie Ward (The Durrels) as Father Gomez and Amber Fitzgerald-Woolf as Ama, with Kobna Holdbrook-Smith (Mary Poppins Returns), Simon Harrison (Endeavour) and Chipo Chung (Into the Badlands) as the rebel angels Balthamos, Baruch and Xaphania.
Chung takes over from Sophie Okonedo who voiced Xaphania in the second season.
And sadly, the death of actor Helen McCrory means that her voice role in the series (as Lord Asriel's daemon Stelmaria) is likely to be recast, as McAvoy revealed to The Times.
"We haven’t thought about it," he said.. "I don’t think we want to talk about it, but when we do, somebody else will be honoured to step into her, well . . . if not footsteps, then her voicesteps."
Meanwhile, Sian Clifford (Fleabag) and Jonathan Aris (Sherlock) will portray Gallivespians spies: Agent Salmakia and Commander Roke, respectively.
Deadline notes that Pullman describes these characters in this way: "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."
So we can expect some exciting new faces in the new episodes!
His Dark Materials season 3 plot
We already have a pretty good idea of what happens in His Dark Materials season three, as it's adapted from a book that’s been out for decades.
In The Amber Spyglass we see Lord Asriel’s war against religious tyranny (and the leading figure The Authority at the head of it) escalate, pulling in creatures and forces from different worlds and even calling some angels to his side.
Meanwhile, Lyra is captured by Mrs Coulter while Will searches for her (accompanied by two angels who want to bring him to Asriel), and Mary Malone steps into a new world to learn more about Dust from creatures called the Mulefa, where she’s pursued by a Magisterium assassin.
Will and Lyra eventually reunite to head to the Land of the Dead to seek out Roger, while Mrs Coulter joins forces with Asriel to battle the angels, and the whole thing culminates in a huge spectacle as the forces of the heavens and the earth clash, leading to one final tragedy (which we won’t spoil here).
“What can I tell you? It’s war," McAvoy told The One Show. "At the end of the second season we sort of declare war on the Kingdom of Heaven, so yeah, it gets pretty down and dirty, and there’s gonna be a lot of fisticuffs and a lot of explosions and all that stuff.
“But at its heart it’s about a wee girl and a wee boy… and not the adults with the egos.”
All in all, it looks set to be a massive series, and executive producer and production designer Joel Collins says the team are relishing the challenge.
“It's all complicated, but I utterly have an idea of the Mulefa and what their world is, Asriel's Republic [of Heaven] is an amazing place,” Collins exclusively told RadioTimes.com.
“We obviously go to the land of the dead, and what an exciting thing to think about and journey through. It's literally a huge, complicated and brilliantly fun puzzle. I've got loads of ideas.”
And Jane Tranter has confirmed that fans can expect to see lots more of the angels, who appeared briefly in the second season, telling Entertainment Weekly that they "are a very, very significant presence" in the third run.
"We trail them [in season 2] so that they are a forthcoming attraction," she explained.
Is there a trailer for His Dark Materials season 3?
Given that the series only just finished filming, it’s no surprise that the BBC haven’t managed to create a trailer yet – but we’ll update this page when the teasers start to arrive.
Hopefully, it won't be too long a wait...
Will there be a series based on The Book of Dust novel La Belle Sauvage?
HBO and the BBC have confirmed no plans to adapt the prequel/sequel trilogy to His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman's The Book of Dust.
In 2020, His Dark Materials executive producer Jane Tranter revealed the team behind the series would be keen to adapt the three subsequent novels for the screen.
“La Belle Sauvage has got Lyra as a baby, and gives some of Asriel and Coulter’s backstory, and some of Lyra’s origin story,” Tranter told RadioTimes.com.
“And The Secret Commonwealth is one of the best books I’ve ever read. I just don’t think there is a better study of depression, in some ways, in a fantasy landscape."
She added: “It’s the most exciting story but, like everything Philip does, it has many levels to it. And it’s an extraordinary piece… so huge and ambitious. But if anyone ever gave us the opportunity to do it, we’d be there.”
In the meantime, a theatrical stage version of The Book of Dust's first volume La Belle Sauvage is playing at the Bridge Theatre in London from November 30, 2021, to February 26, 2022.
It is due to be broadcast on NT Live for the performance on February 17, 2022.
The novel was adapted for the stage by acclaimed dramatist Bryony Laver.
His Dark Materials seasons one and two are available to stream on BBC iPlayer now.