His Dark Materials begins tonight on BBC One.

“It’s been a pleasure to support Bad Wolf during the Bristol elements of their shoot for His Dark Materials. This was a fast-paced shoot full of action, running and stunts which really made the most of the different looks Bristol has to offer, like the tall streets and alleyways around Colston Yard and the stunning setting of Blaise Orangery. We’d like to thank all the individual locations involved for their help and cooperation. Given the massive fanbase the trilogy already has, this is definitely one of the biggest and most eagerly awaited BBC dramas of 2019 and we are delighted that Bristol crew and locations have played a part in its production.” – Bristol Film Office’s Natalie Moore

His Dark Materials tells the story of Lyra, the young protagonist who lives in Jordan College, Oxford. Placed there at the request of her Uncle, Lord Asriel, she lives a sheltered life amongst the scholars and college staff while under the watchful protection of The Master and Librarian Scholar Charles. When the glamorous and mesmeric Mrs Coulter enters Lyra’s life she embarks upon a dangerous journey of discovery from Oxford to London. Here she meets Father Macphail, Lord Boreal and journalist Adele Starminster 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, Farder Coram, John Faa, Raymond Van Geritt, Jack Verhoeven and Benjamin de Ruyter who take her North in her quest. Once in the North, she meets charismatic aeronaut and adventurer Lee Scoresby who joins them on their epic journey and who becomes one of Lyra’s closest allies.

The cast for His Dark Materials includes Dafne Keen as Lyra, Ruth Wilson as Mrs Coulter, Lin-Manuel Miranda as Lee Scoresby, James McAvoy as Lord Asriel, Clarke Peters as The Master of Jordan College, James Cosmo as Farder Coram and Anne-Marie Duff as Ma Costa, with Will Keen as Father McPhail and Ariyon Bakare as Lord Boreal.

“For me, the stand-out thing is that the main character is a young girl. It’s also I think darker and it goes very deep. If a nine-year-old watches it, he’s only going to see the adventure part, but then if an adult sees it, they’re going to see all the layers and everything that it has.” – Dafne Keen

The BBC One drama, Jack Thorne’s highly anticipated adaptation of Philip Pullman’s acclaimed series of novels, was partly produced in Bristol.

The eight-part drama, which is said to be the BBC’s most expensive series to date, was produced by Bad Wolf and New Line Cinema in Wales but visited Bristol a number of times throughout its shooting schedule to film key scenes with the help of Bristol Film Office.

In August 2018 the team filmed a chase sequence in a moving vehicle with a tracking vehicle following the action as it travelled through Trenchard Street, Colston Street, Host Street and Pipe Lane into Colston Yard whilst drone cameras also filmed from above. The production team later returned to Bristol to film at Blaise Orangery with support from Blaise Park Rangers.

The drama begins tonight at 9pm on BBC One.

“This story starts in another world. One that is both like, and unlike, your own. Here, every human soul takes the physical form of an animal, known as a daemon. The relationship between human and daemon is sacred. This world has been controlled for centuries by the all-powerful Magisterium. Except in the Northern wilderness, where witches secretly whisper of a prophecy. A prophecy about a child with a great destiny. During the great flood, this child was brought to Oxford.” – BBC Drama

His Dark Materials crew prepares for filming on Trenchard St, Bristol (image Bristol Film Office).

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