His Dark Materials: From the BBC adaptation's cast to premiere date - everything you need to know

Rachel McGrath
BBC/Bad Wolf/HBO

As the nights draw in, there’s nothing better than staying in with a brand new drama to keep you company.

One of the most exciting new programmes set to wow viewers this autumn and winter is His Dark Materials, the BBC’s big budget adaptation of Philip Pullman’s books.

The series sees an all-star cast, including Oscar nominee Lin Manuel Miranda and Luther star Ruth Wilson, joined by up-and-coming newcomers.

At long last, the fantastical adaptation will finally arrive on BBC1 in under a fortnight’s time and Standard Online were among the special guests who got a sneak peak at the first episode when the world premiere was held in London in early October.

While we’re keeping schtum on exact details of what to expect, we can promise you that the series will not disappoint.

Here’s everything you need to know about His Dark Materials…

When’s it on?

Series one of His Dark Materials will air every Sunday for 8 weeks, starting from November 3.

The BBC are yet to confirm what time it will air, though it’s likely to be going out in either the 8pm or 9pm slot.

Each episode will be available to watch on iPlayer when it airs.

Is there a trailer?

There is. You can watch it below:

Who’s in the cast?

His Dark Materials boats a stellar A-list cast, led by Ruth Wilson as the formidable Mrs Coulter.

She’ll be joined by Hamilton creator, Lin Manuel Miranda, Atonement’s James McAvoy and James Cosmo, who you’ll recognise from Game Of Thrones.

Clarke Peters (The Wire), Anne-Marie Duff (Suffragette) and Ariyon Bakare (Good Omens) also star.

The lead role of Lyra will be played by 14-year-old Dafne Keen, whose dad, Will, is also in the show - but on the opposite side to his daughter's character.

Wilson and Keen at the London premiere (Dave Benett)

What are the books it is based on?

Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials is a trilogy of three books; Northern Lights, The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass.

Released between 1995 and 2000, the novels remain Pullman’s best-selling books, with a whopping 18 million copies being shifted.

When it comes to plot, the books cover a lot of ground.

Philip Pullman (Dave Benett/Getty Images)

The story starts in Jordan College, Oxford, where 11-year-old Lyra Belacqua has been living at the request of her uncle.

Bored and restless, young Lyra is keen to break free of her surroundings and when the glamorous Mrs Coulter arrives, she sees a ticket away from Oxford and leaves for a journey of discovery that takes her to London.

There is, obviously, a dark side to the events (the clue is in the title) as the enigmatic Magisterium exerts a huge amount of control over citizens.

This isn’t the first time an adaptation has been attempted

In 2007, Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig starred in The Golden Compass, an attempt at a big screen version of the first book.

Unfortunately, the film was not a hit with critics or fans and many criticised the decision to remove some of the darker elements of Pullman’s original work.

Sequels had been planned but upon release of the movie, these were cancelled.

Reflecting on where production company New Line Cinema went wrong, Pullman later told the Daily Mail: “It was over-designed.

“There were far too many twiddly bits on the armoured bears. There should have been great sheets of rusted metal instead. And they didn’t finish the story.

“They wanted both a cliffhanger and a resolution. You just can’t do that.”

What does Philip Pullman think of the BBC series?

He loves it. Phew.

Pullman has been more heavily involved in the Jack Thorne-penned TV adaptation, and previously said of a visit to the set: “The whole production is enormously impressive. Flawless, just as I’d seen it in my mind.”

He was then in attendance at the world premiere in London in early September, where lead star Wilson told him: “Philip, you’ve created such a genius piece of work that we are constantly questioning and digging deeper every day onset.”

How much did the show cost?

Cast and crew: Jane Tranter, Dafne Keen, Philip Pullman, Ruth Wilson and Jack Thorne (Dave Benett)

His Dark Materials has been produced by the BBC and HBO.

While the production houses involved haven’t confirmed exactly how much money has been spent, it’s rumoured to be well into the millions, with reports claiming each episode has cost a whopping £5.6m.

Will there be another series?

Yes. Before the first has even made it to TV screens, the BBC confirmed that a second is in the works.

Dafne Keen as Lyra (BBC/Bad Wolf/HBO)

Filming on the next set of episodes (which will chart the event’s of the second book is already underway too, as Lyra (played by Keen) needs to be the same age as she is in series one.

While a third series hasn’t been given the green light yet,executive producer Jane Tranter seems quietly confident it will happen, telling the audience at the world premiere that it will need to be more than eight episodes long.

His Dark Materials begins on BBC1 on Sunday, November 3.

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