Dafne Keen takes on the lead role of Lyra, the young protagonist of the story who lives in Jordan College, Oxford. Placed there at the request of her Uncle, Lord Asriel (James McAvoy) she lives a sheltered life amongst the scholars and college staff while under the watchful protection of The Master (Clarke Peters) and Librarian Scholar Charles (Ian Gelder).
When the glamorous and mesmeric Mrs Coulter (Ruth Wilson) enters Lyra’s life she embarks upon a dangerous journey of discovery from Oxford to London. Here she meets Father MacPhail (Will Keen), Lord Boreal (Ariyon Bakare) and journalist Adele Starminster (Georgina Campbell) at a glittering society party where she first hears about the sinister General Oblation Board.
Lyra is subsequently thrown into the nomadic world of the boat dwelling Gyptians - Ma Costa (Anne-Marie Duff), Farder Coram (James Cosmo), John Faa (Lucien Msamati), Raymond Van Geritt (Mat Fraser), Jack Verhoeven (Geoff Bell) and Benjamin de Ruyter (Simon Manyonda) who take her North in her quest.
Once in the North she meets charismatic aeronaut and adventurer Lee Scoresby (Lin-Manuel Miranda) who joins them on their epic journey and who becomes one of Lyra’s closest allies.
Talented young actors joining the cast include Lewin Lloyd as Roger Parslow, Daniel Frogson as Tony Costa, Tyler Howitt as Billy Costa and Archie Barnes as Pantalaimon.
With the news that filming had begun in Cardiff, original author of the books Philip Pullman said, “I’m delighted that the production is under way, and I’m looking forward immensely to seeing how it looks. Bad Wolf has assembled a wonderful cast and I’m sure every HDM reader is as keen as I am to see it all coming together.”
His Dark Materials has been published in more than 40 languages and has sold worldwide close to 18 million copies. Since first publication in 1995 of Northern Lights, the three books have been acclaimed worldwide and have won many awards. In 2001 The Amber Spyglass was the first and only children’s book to win the Whitbread (now Costa) Book of the Year Award, in 2007 Northern Lights won the Carnegie of Carnegies and in 2005 Pullman was awarded by the Swedish Arts Council, the children’s literature equivalent of the Nobel Prize, The Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award.
Jack Thorne (Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, This is England ’88) is a Bafta, Tony and Olivier Award winning screenwriter and playwright and had the responsibility of writing the screenplay for the series. He said of the task, "His Dark Materials are the most beautiful set of books, taking us into a world of constant imagination. Reading them I was a massive fan, in adapting them I've increasingly felt in awe of them. It's the constant invention, the way the story never sits still, and that the characters constantly surprise you. It's been a joy being part of a creative team for this; from Tom's incredible analytic mind and amazing eye, to Joel's beautiful world building, to everyone else involved. And then there's the cast, which has proved to be the cast of dreams, we are so lucky to have been able to entice them in.”
Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech, Les Miserables) will lead as director and helm the first two episodes with Dawn Shadforth (Danny Boyle’s Trust, Kylie Minogue’s Can’t Get You Out of My Head) directing episode three and Otto Bathurst (Robin Hood , Peaky Blinders) directing four and five, with other directors to be announced. Dan McCulloch (Victoria, Endeavour) is Executive Producer and Laurie Borg (Peaky Blinders, Black Mirror) is Producer.
The design team is led by Joel Collins (Black Mirror, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy) who said, "I wanted to be part of a show that would challenge every bone in my body. I was looking for something that would be a true test of my mettle. The hardest thing in fantasy is trying to show a mass group of people what they’ve only previously seen in their minds.” He is joined on the creative team by costumes designer Caroline McCall (Downton Abbey, Hyde Park on Hudson) and hair and make-up design being led by Pamela Haddock (The Terror, Sherlock). Director of Photography for block one is Justin Brown (The End of the F***ing World, Sixteen) and casting director is Kathleen Crawford (I, Daniel Blake, Filth).
Framestore takes the role of VFX creative partner on the show and Michelle Martin, Head of Television, Framestore was excited about the opportunity, calling it "a televisual event of truly epic proportion." She added, "It’s a hugely ambitious project, but one we at Framestore take on confidently, knowing our award-winning teams will successfully see it through."
His Dark Materials is produced by Bad Wolf and New Line Cinema, in its first foray into British television for BBC One in association with BBC Studios Distribution and Anton Capital Entertainment, S.C.A. The series will be filmed in Cardiff at Wolf Studios Wales.