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  • Writer's pictureDave Golder

His Dark Materials season 3 enters production: Amber Spyglass will be 8 episodes

Here’s a first behind-the-scenes look at the two stars

New worlds beckon for Lyra (Dafne Keen), Will (Amir Wilson), Mrs Coulter (Ruth Wilson), Mary Malone (Simone Kirby) and Lord Asriel (James McAvoy)

His Dark Materials returns to production with an epic third season of the BAFTA-winning BBC and HBO co-production based on Philip Pullman’s final novel in the trilogy – The Amber Spyglass – produced by Bad Wolf.

This series will see Will (Amir Wilson), the bearer of The Subtle Knife and Lyra (Dafne Keen), the prophesied child, travel through multiple worlds to find and protect each other.

New cast for season three includes Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (Lost) as Commander Ogunwe and Jamie Ward (The Durrells) as Father Gomez. Kobna Holdbrook-Smith, Simon Harrison and Chipo Chung are the rebel angels Balthamos, Baruch and Xaphania; while Ama will be played by Amber Fitzgerald-Woolfe.

Returning cast also include Will Keen as Father President MacPhail, Jade Anouka as Ruta Skadi and Ruta Gedmintas as Serafina Pekkala.

Amit Gupta will lead as director of the opening two episodes to be followed by Charles Martin and Weronika Tofilska.

Production will once again take place in the sound stages at Wolf Studios Wales and on location throughout Wales and England (they look like they’re using one of the quarries from ’80s Doctor Who in the image they’ve released).

At the end of season two we saw Lord Asriel call upon the angels to help him wage a war against the Kingdom of Heaven as Mrs Coulter abducted her daughter Lyra to take her to ‘safety’ in their own world. Season three opens with Lyra unconscious, having been given a sleeping draught by her mother, as Will, still carrying the Subtle Knife, continues his quest to find her. Will is tracked down by two angels – Balthamos and Baruch – who wish to take him to join Lord Asriel’s campaign against The Authority with Commander Ogunwe. But Will is not the only one after Lyra, with Father President MacPhail continuing his mission to destroy the child of the prophecy, employing the help of his most committed follower, Father Gomez.

Meanwhile Oxford physicist Mary Malone reaches another parallel world – that of the Mulefa, a strange animal-like species. They tell her of a cataclysmic phenomenon in their world.

With multiple new worlds, including the Land of the Dead, returning characters and featuring strange new creatures the Mulefa and Gallivespians, the third season will bring Philip Pullman’s masterpiece to a dramatic conclusion.

The season will once again be helmed by Executive Producers Jane Tranter and Dan McCulloch for Bad Wolf. Writers Jack Thorne and Francesca Gardiner will both Executive Produce, with Amelia Spencer joining as writer and consulting producer. Also executive producing the series are Ryan Rasmussen, Julie Gardner and Joel Collins for Bad Wolf; Philip Pullman; Deborah Forte; Toby Emmerich and Carolyn Blackwood for New Line Cinema; and Ben Irving for the BBC.

Joel Collins returns as production designer and Executive Producer, with Russell Dodgson as series VFX supervisor for Framestore and Dan May as VFX art director and pre-vis supervisor for Painting Practice. Kahleen Crawford and Dan Jackson return as casting directors, Caroline McCall as costume designer and Claire Williams joins the BAFTA award winning creative team as hair and make-up designer. The series producer is Nick Pitt and producer is Stephen Haren.

Bad Wolf Founder and Executive Producer Jane Tranter said: “The Amber Spyglass is the most gloriously complex of Philip Pullman’s novels to adapt for TV but with our world class creative team in Cardiff no challenge is too daunting. This season is both an epic adventure and a story about love and truth. Jack, Francesca and Amelia’s scripts capture the brilliance of Philip’s worlds and we are joined by our much-loved existing cast and some exceptional talent new to the series.”

Executive Producer Dan McCulloch said: “The moment we started season one of His Dark Materials we had mapped out all three novels to know the direction in which we were heading. Every detail and character within this incredible work of fiction has been analysed and discussed for 4 years now, and to finally arrive in the many worlds of The Amber Spyglass is thrilling.”

Ben Irving, Commissioning Editor, BBC Drama said: “Philip Pullman’s extraordinary trilogy of novels reaches new heights in The Amber Spyglass, and this incredible creative team have risen to the challenge every step of the way. Audiences on BBC One and iPlayer will need to prepare for another thrilling visual and emotional journey with Lyra and Will.”

Francesca Orsi, Executive Vice President, HBO said: “It has been a joy watching audiences embrace this incredible journey of self-discovery, friendship and purpose with Lyra these last two seasons. Jane, Dan and everyone on the Bad Wolf team have done such a tremendous job bringing Phillip’s beloved world to life and I cannot wait for the fans to get a front row seat to all that is in store in this gripping and poignant final chapter.”

Philip Pullman’s award-winning trilogy of the same name, is considered a modern masterpiece of imaginative fiction and has sold over 18 million copies worldwide. The Amber Spyglass is the first children’s novel to win the prestigious Whitbread Book of the Year (in 2001) and the first children’s novel to be long-listed for the Man Booker Prize.

His Dark Materials season two averaged over 6 million viewers on BBC One. Season one and two are streaming now on BBC iPlayer.

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