Did you recognise the mysterious voice in His Dark Materials?

A familiar narrator opens the latest episode of the Philip Pullman adaptation, and she may have a crucial part to play in the series going forward.

Simone Kirby

A big fantasy series like His Dark Materials features a lot of different characters, and you’d be forgiven for struggling to keep up with exactly who’s playing who (unless you had RadioTimes.com’s handy His Dark Materials cast page to hand, of course).

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But the series’ fourth episode also prominently features an actor who’s more mysterious than most – at least partially because you never see her.

Opening the episode with narration that describes the history of the Subtle Knife (the magical, portal-cutting weapon that’s crucial to this series and Amir Wilson’s character Will), this voice-only character also crops up later on in the episode talking to Simone Kirby’s scientist Mary Malone (pictured) from her computer The Cave, answering more questions about Dust and hinting at what’s to come in the future story of His Dark Materials.

But who is she exactly, and who is she playing? Well, given that she also appeared earlier in the series narrating the very first season two episode, it’s no real spoiler to note that acclaimed actor Sophie Okonedo is the voice in these crucial scenes.

Known for her theatre and screen work (including Doctor Who, Hotel Rwanda, Wild Rose, Ratched, Undercover, The Hollow Crown and the upcoming movie Death on the Nile among other roles), in His Dark Materials Okonedo is credited as an angel called Xaphania.

Sophie Okonedo has appeared in Game of Thrones and will star in Amazon's The Wheel of Time
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Within Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials books Xaphania is the leader of the rebel angels who ally with Lord Asriel to overthrow The Authority (essentially God) in third book The Amber Spyglass, so it seems likely that Okonedo’s role in the series is only just beginning – though perhaps, as with Andrew Scott who was teased in series one but only appeared halfway though season two, fans will have to wait to see her properly in action.

Still, for now Okonedo’s presence adds an intriguing new layer to an already packed cast. The world – or rather, worlds – of His Dark Materials just keeps getting bigger.

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.

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His Dark Materials continues on BBC One on Sundays 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.