Exclusive – His Dark Materials announces new cast and release date news as season 3 begins filming
The "thrilling" new episodes of the Philip Pullman adaptation will arrive in 2022.
This is your amber warning: we’re all about to head back into the world of His Dark Materials, with the BBC announcing the start of production for series three of the Philip Pullman adaptation, based on his beloved 2000 novel The Amber Spyglass.
RadioTimes.com can also exclusively reveal that the third series will air in 2022 and, due to the extensive VFX required for the scale of the story, the series is unlikely to return to screens until the autumn of that year.
However, when it does arrive, series three is apparently set to be truly epic, with exciting new locations, storylines and characters to join series leads Dafne Keen and Amir Wilson (pictured above on the first day of series three filming).
Said newcomers include Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje as Commander Ogunwe, Jamie Ward as Father Gomez and Amber Fitzgerald-Woolfe as Ama, with Kobna Holdbrook-Smith, Simon Harrison and Chipo Chung as the rebel angels Balthamos, Baruch and Xaphania.
RadioTimes.com understands that some of these characters will have expanded roles compared to their appearance in The Amber Spyglass, which series three is otherwise closely based on. We also understand that James McAvoy's Lord Asriel (who largely sat season two out, apart from a brief one-scene cameo) is set to play a large role in the story, with McAvoy currently on set filming for the new episodes.
Writers Jack Thorne, Francesca Gardiner and newcomer Amelia Spencer have adapted the book for eight episodes of TV, with series directors including Amit Gupta, Charles Martin and Weronika Tofilska.
“The Amber Spyglass is the most gloriously complex of Philip Pullman’s novels to adapt for TV but with our world class creative team in Cardiff no challenge is too daunting,” executive producer Jane Tranter said.
“This season is both an epic adventure and a story about love and truth. Jack, Francesca and Amelia’s scripts capture the brilliance of Philip’s worlds and we are joined by our much-loved existing cast and some exceptional talent new to the series.”
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“The moment we started season one of His Dark Materials we had mapped out all three novels to know the direction in which we were heading,” added executive producer Dan McCulloch.
“Every detail and character within this incredible work of fiction has been analysed and discussed for four years now, and to finally arrive in the many worlds of The Amber Spyglass is thrilling.”
Returning cast for series three include Keen, McAvoy, Ruth Wilson, Will Keen, Jade Anouka, Simone Kirby and Ruta Gedmintas, in a story that sees Lyra (Keen) and Will (Amir Wilson) separated as a war for Heaven rages across multiple parallel worlds.
A new synopsis reads:
At the end of season two we saw Lord Asriel call upon the angels to help him wage a war against the Kingdom of Heaven as Mrs Coulter abducted her daughter Lyra to take her to ‘safety’ in their own world. Season three opens with Lyra unconscious, having been given a sleeping draught by her mother, as Will, still carrying the Subtle Knife, continues his quest to find her.
Will is tracked down by two angels – Balthamos and Baruch – who wish to take him to join Lord Asriel’s campaign against The Authority with Commander Ogunwe. But Will is not the only one after Lyra, with Father President MacPhail continuing his mission to destroy the child of the prophecy, employing the help of his most committed follower, Father Gomez.
Meanwhile, Oxford physicist Mary Malone reaches another parallel world – that of the Mulefa, a strange animal-like species. They tell her of a cataclysmic phenomenon in their world.
With multiple new worlds, including the Land of the Dead, returning characters and featuring strange new creatures the Mulefa and Gallivespians, the third season will bring Philip Pullman’s masterpiece to a dramatic conclusion.
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The third series will film in Wales at Bad Wolf Studios and on location and, while we're sure fans will be a little disappointed to not see it onscreen this autumn, they can take some comfort in the fact that Lyra and Will's story is heading towards that "dramatic conclusion".
And anyway, who doesn't love a little delayed gratification?