How faithful is the BBC’s His Dark Materials series to the books?


When His Darkish Supplies opening instalment Northern Lights was first tailored for the display again in 2007, many viewers have been sad with modifications that had been comprised of Philip Pullman’s novel, feeling that essential plot factors and the guide’s non secular commentary had been thrown by the wayside to create a disappointing, sanitised model of the story.

So, followers will likely be happy to listen to that the brand new BBC1 collection is way extra devoted to Pullman’s imaginative and prescient, barely straying from the plot and expertly capturing the sense of marvel that’s such an enormous a part of the novels.

Chatting with HEARALPUBLICIST, James McAvoy, who performs Lord Asriel within the collection and is a self-confessed fan of the books, stated, “I don’t assume there’s that a lot that’s completely different, I actually don’t. I believe it’s a reasonably devoted and loving adaptation. I believe the individuals who determined to adapt it and to make it have been huge followers of it, they weren’t simply seeking to exploit it as ‘oh here’s one other fantasy world that we are able to use to assist substitute Westeros.’

“There’s a true love and affection for the material, so I think it has actually been pretty lovingly and meticulously translated into television. Is there anything really, really different? I don’t think so.”

And though McAvoy is likely to be appropriate to say that nothing is actually completely different we’ve got managed to identify just a few modifications within the collection thus far – starting with episodes one and two.

The opening

James McAvoy as Lord Asriel and Helen McCrory as Stelmaria in the His Dark Materials Book of Dust flashback (BBC)

Whereas Northern Lights begins with Lyra already in Oxford, residing in Jordan Faculty with students together with The Grasp and The Librarian, the TV present opts for a barely completely different introduction.

A scene earlier than the opening credit sees Lord Asriel carrying the child Lyra via a supernatural flood into the care of the Grasp – which is definitely a reference to Pullman’s newer E book of Mud trilogy.

Chatting with HEARALPUBLICIST, author Jack Thorne and govt producer Jane Tranter stated that they had obtained particular permission from Pullman to incorporate this.

“We discussed it with Philip Pullman who very kindly gave us permission to include this element,” they stated.

“We’ve used it very carefully as readers of the Book of Dust will realise. But we think it gives the series the epic beginning it deserves.”



Jordan Faculty kitchen boy and Lyra’s finest pal Roger is a serious character within the first guide of Pullman’s trilogy – and it appears like that will likely be no completely different within the present.

Nevertheless, there are a few modifications made to Roger’s character. Firstly, he’s introduced as an orphan within the TV present, which was by no means the case within the books. And secondly, within the collection we see Lyra ask Mrs Coulter if Roger can accompany them to London. Within the books Roger had already gone lacking by this level – a presumed sufferer of the a lot feared gobblers.

Furthermore within the TV present, the possibility to rescue Roger is introduced as a big a part of Lyra’s motivation for transferring to London. Within the guide, alternatively, though initially unhappy about his disappearance, Lyra truly finally ends up feeling responsible at simply how little she is pondering of Roger when she is taken below Mrs Coulter’s wing.

The Gyptians and Billy Costa

Anne-Marie Duff as Ma Costa in His Dark Materials (BBC)

Anne-Marie Duff as Ma Costa in His Darkish Supplies (BBC)

Early indicators counsel that we’re going to get a better have a look at the Gyptians, a gaggle of characters with whom Lyra is on good phrases and which incorporates key gamers similar to John Faa and Farder Coram.

An early scene reveals Tony Costa, one other of the Gyptians, as the topic of a coming of age ceremony, along with his dæmon having not too long ago settled on its ultimate type. This scene, which primarily operates as an introduction to the Gyptians, is new for the present, having not appeared within the guide in any respect.

A extra noteworthy change, nonetheless, considerations Tony’s brother – Billy Costa. In the course of the episode, Billy refers to his daemon as Ratter, which is definitely the identify of the daemon of one other character – Tony Makarios – within the books. This means that these two characters could nicely have been mixed for the TV present as was the case within the 2003 Nationwide Theatre stage model – however we received’t know this for sure till the collection progresses.

The Magisterium

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The present has already given us an early glimpse of the Magisterium – the sinister ruling physique that exerts nice affect over Pullman’s world – which is talked about solely by identify within the first guide.

We additionally perceive that highly effective Magisterium figures Lord Boreal and Father McPhail may have an expanded function all through the present’s run – so look out for that in future episodes.



Though this isn’t a change to the story per se, die-hard followers will discover that Dafne Eager, who performs Lyra, doesn’t fairly match as much as Pullman’s description within the books.

Within the books, Lyra is described as having blonde hair reasonably than Eager’s darker brown. However we reckon Eager captures the sense of journey and unruliness so nicely that we’re keen to miss a barely completely different hair color.

And Lyra’s not the one one whose guide description isn’t taken as gospel – Lin-Manuel Miranda doesn’t fairly match up along with his character Lee Scoresby’s both.

Talking about his casting, Miranda informed HEARALPUBLICIST, “After all if I’m studying His Darkish Supplies, I wouldn’t solid me first!

“When you think about what’s on the page, you can’t get better than [film adaptation The Golden Compass star] Sam Eliot in that movie. He’s like Texan, he’s already got the moustache. He’s got it all already! So I just thought well, I don’t know what my version’s going to look like but I’m here for the ride.”

And it’s not simply the human characters whose look is barely completely different – within the first episode we see Lyra’s demon Pantalaimon take the type of a pine marten on a few events – one thing which doesn’t occur till a lot later within the books.

We’ll be holding a lookout for any additional deviations from the guide because the present progresses – however thus far we reckon they’ve accomplished a reasonably good job of capturing the spirit of Pullman’s work.


Persevering with on from final week’s episode, we’re getting rather more publicity to the Gyptians than we did at this stage of Pullman’s novel. On this episode, we see them holding discussions and trying a rescue mission as they goal to free the kids from the Gobblers.

This isn’t essentially an invention for the collection – it’s advised that the Gyptians are looking for the kids whereas Lyra is in London within the books as nicely. Solely, this occurred within the background there – we’re getting a a lot nearer look within the present.

We additionally see some extra of Billy Costa – who we reckon has been merged with guide character Tony Makarios – as he involves phrases along with his scenario alongside his fellow captives. Right here we see Billy encounter Lyra’s pal Roger, a gathering that we didn’t see at this stage of the novels.

Talking of Roger, the present has continued to present him extra of a backstory than he had within the books. After asserting final week that he was an orphan, he mentions on this week’s episode that he was delivered to Jordan Faculty by his aunt – one thing that’s by no means talked about in Northern Lights. We additionally see him draft a letter to Lyra, which is one other new addition for the present.

Mrs Coulter, her monkey and Father McPhail



There are a number of minor modifications made to storylines involving Lyra’s keep in London with Mrs Coulter. One among these is that Pan, Lyra’s dæmon, incessantly hears noises coming from the partitions throughout the night time, later revealed to be Mrs Coulter’s monkey dæmon spying on them and travelling through secret passages.

Whereas Lyra and Pan do develop into suspicious of Mrs Coulter and her dæmon within the books as nicely, these secret passages are new for the present.

Will Keen and Dafne Keen in His Dark Materials (BBC)

Will Eager and Dafne Eager in His Darkish Supplies (BBC)

We additionally see Mrs Coulter payed a go to by sinister magisterium official Father McPhail (Will Eager) – a personality who doesn’t seem within the first novel in any respect – as he continues his expanded function within the collection.

Maybe the largest revelation we get from Mrs Coulter this week, although, is an announcement she makes to Lyra: that Asriel is just not her uncle, as she had at all times thought, however is definitely her father. After all, that is the case within the books as nicely – however Lyra doesn’t uncover it till a lot afterward, and when she does, the data doesn’t come from Mrs Coulter.

Lord Boreal



Lord Boreal is a key determine within the His Darkish Supplies trilogy, however, as we talked about final week, his function within the first guide is comparatively restricted. We’re positively not in opposition to him being given a extra expanded function, although, and that continued this week.

In episode two, we see Boreal pay a go to to a world that appears much more like our personal than the one Lyra inhabits. We see him typing a message on a smartphone, earlier than he meets Thomas, a personality performed by Robert Emms, in a contemporary espresso store.

This can be a little bit of a tease as to what to anticipate in later collection – we don’t go to our personal world till the second guide of Pullman’s trilogy.

Ariyon Bakare, who performs Lord Boreal on the present, spoke to HEARALPUBLICIST in regards to the elevated function his character performs in collection 1.

He stated, “We see extra of Lord Boreal. You see his journey and also you see the beginnings of what he desires in guide one.

“However you form of perceive. With the guide, you don’t perceive the connection between him and Mrs Coulter, so what they’ve accomplished this time is determined ‘why don’t we discover that relationship? Why don’t we see the beginnings of that relationship?’ which is nice.

Ariyon Bakare in His Dark Materials (BBC)

Ariyon Bakare in His Darkish Supplies (BBC)

“You have to do that for film and TV, otherwise you won’t be invested. So I think they invested a lot into Boreal. He is the male villain of the piece.”

On the finish of the episode we additionally see Boreal kill journalist Adele Stairmaster by suffocating her dæmon – which was a reasonably neat scene, however one other addition from the books.

And Bakare says that this scene was truly considered one of his favorite from the collection.

He informed HEARALPUBLICIST, “There was a scene with Georgina Campbell – that was an incredible scene. That was among the best scenes I’ve accomplished. I believe the 2 scenes …when Boreal could be as imply, and as evil as he could be, then it actually works.

“And when we’re working in tandem together, and we’ve both got our plans, and you know you want to do that ‘hahahahaha’ laugh at the end of it.”

We’ll proceed to search for extra deviations and additions because the collection progresses.

His Darkish Supplies airs on Sundays at 8pm on BBC1

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