I may have a slight obsession with Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials (as my month-long appreciation in July demonstrated), and I am extremely pleased to say this obsession will continue with the announcement that His Dark Materials is getting another chance at a (hopefully better) adaptation! The announcement was made late Tuesday night here and I was almost too excited to sleep thinking about what this series could do, what we could see. I know I am dying to see Hester and Lee, to see Will and the Subtle Knife, Mary and the Mulefa, certainly more about the intricacies and all the beauty that Pullman has created – basically anything I gushed about in July I am up for in this new series. Just looking at all the headlines of news articles is enough to make my heart swell with joy and excitement about this:
The series is not going to be one that takes years, at the moment it is being announced as an eight part miniseries, but if each episode is an hour or an hour and a half which the BBC is excellent at doing, then there is ample time for a decent look at each book and to explore everything as it should be told without cutting scenes or corners. Even if the budget isn’t that of a massive feature film I have so much confidence in this project I know they are going to give it the attention it deserves. Just look at the other miniseries that have been produced, Hogfather for one, that captures Pratchett’s book so well, and it was only in two parts!
Edit: Apparently they are now looking at doing FIVE WHOLE SEASONS!
Pullman has given his blessing for the project, which is more than he really gave for the movie, especially any chance at a sequel, and he is also helping to recruit the ideal writer for the job, someone who will be able to produce a faithful adaptation of the novels. With the hit shows like Game of Thrones being adapted for television rather than a film, it’s no real surprise this epic trilogy now has its turn. There is so much more to get from a TV show than a movie sometimes, if this trend continues maybe one day we will get a television show of Harry Potter, just to finally see all the great things we missed out on in the movie. But one epic series at a time!
The series is being filmed in Wales, and produced by new production company Bad Wolf and New Line Cinema, who were in charge of the film admittedly, but Pullman will be an executive producer, and Jane Tranter and Julie Gardner, former BBC executives and Bad Wolf founders, are sure to make this adaptation the one we all deserve.
Tranter spoke to The Guardian about the project saying, “There are some pieces of literature that are wonderfully suited to film. There are some pieces of literature which are better suited to television. To my mind what is great about these trilogy of novels is we can adapt them as Philip wrote them…We can go at episode pace, tell the entirety of the story, take our time and sound every note that Philip sounds in his novels.” That right there is music to my ears.
Pullman also believes television is a wonderful platform, where well told stories and execution can bring about new depths of characterisation and heights of suspense “by taking the time for events to make their proper impact and for consequences to unravel”. And with His Dark Materials being adapted into so many other platforms already: film, radio, and theatre, then a television show really is the next logical step.
If you have any doubts at all about this adaptation then simply look to Pullman’s reaction, quoted as saying he “couldn’t be more pleased with this news” which is all I need to increase my excitement, and I was already quite thrilled.