His Dark Materials season 2: filming locations and who stars in the cast alongside Dafne Keen as Lyra

The second season is an adaptation of The Subtle Knife, the second book in Philip Pullman’s fantasy series

Monday, 9th November 2020, 3:52 pm
(Photo: BBC)

2019 was the year we finally saw the highly anticipated adaptation of Philip Pullman’s famed His Dark Materials books on screens.

It was a long time coming, but just a year later, fans are already getting to enjoy the second instalment of the fantasy series, which began on BBC One on Sunday 8 November.

Following New Line Cinema's failed big-screen adaptation of the first book in 2007, the TV version of the beloved trilogy of novels for the BBC seems to be faring a lot better, garnering critical acclaim across the board.

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(Photo: BBC)

Here is everything you need to know about Season 2.

What is His Dark Materials about?

His Dark Materials charts the story of Lyra, an orphan who lives in a parallel universe in which science, theology and magic are entwined.

In Northern Lights – the first book in the series – Lyra's search for a kidnapped friend uncovers a sinister plot involving stolen children, and turns into a quest to understand a mysterious phenomenon called Dust.

In The Subtle Knife - the book on which Season 2 is based – she is joined on her journey by Will, a boy who possesses a knife that can cut windows between worlds.

As Lyra learns the truth about her parents and her prophesied destiny, the two young people are caught up in a war against celestial powers that ranges across many worlds and leads to a thrilling conclusion in The Amber Spyglass, which will presumably be the focus of the inevitable third series.

Who stars in it?

His Dark Materials certainly has an impressive cast of familiar names and newer faces who are likely to go on to become stars.

The young lead role of Lyra goes to Dafne Keen, who was previously seen as a mutant protege in 2017's gritty X-Men reboot, Logan, while Scottish actors James McAvoy and James Cosmo are also on board.

McAvoy plays Lord Asriel, described in the book as having "powerful shoulders, a fierce dark face, and eyes that seem to flash and glitter with savage laughter", while Braveheart and Highlander actor Cosmo is Farder Coram.

Ruth Wilson (Mrs Wilson) is Marisa Coulter, the former lover of Lord Asriel and one of the main antagonists of Northern Lights, while Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda is Lee Scoresby, a skilled "aeronaut" balloonist from the country of Texas.

Ruta Gedmintas (The Borgias) is witch queen Serafina Pekkala, Ariyon Bakare (New Blood) is Lord Boreal, and Lucian Msamati (Black Earth Rising) is James Faa.

But Season 2 also introduces us to some new characters and cast members.

These include Fleabag’s Andrew Scott as John Parry, a marine and explorer who is also Will's father, Jade Anouka as Ruta Skadi, acting heavyweight Terence Stamp as Giacomo Paradisi and Simone Kirby as Dr. Mary Malone.

Where was it filmed?

Being an effects-laden fantasy epic, it’s not likely you’ll actually be able to visit any of the locations seen on screen, because the majority of shooting took place at Bad Wolf Studios in Cardiff, with sets being created using CGI.

There are a couple of real-world locations used though, and Oxford is one of them.

The fictional Jordan College of the show was actually filmed at the real-life New College, and In August 2019, fans spotted Dafne Keen filming at the Botanical Gardens in the town.

Shots of impressive London buildings were used for establishing shots – such as the Magisterium headquarters – while the Brecon Beacons National Park, just a stone’s throw from the production’s studio base, is where the majority of the swooping landscape shots were captured.

Other filming locations include Blaenavon in Wales, which was used to create the set for Trollesund.

When can I watch it?

His Dark Materials began on BBC One on Sunday 8 November at 8.10pm.

Subsequent episodes in the seven-part series will be screened each week on Sunday evenings. Episodes will be available to catch-up through BBC iPlayer following broadcast.