Any good book fan will tell you that a healthy case of nerves when TV or film tries to adapt your favorite series is normal, but the anxiety is perhaps heightened when it comes to HBO and BBC’s His Dark Materials given the widely disliked 2007 film adaptation that still lingers in fans’ memories.
Executive producers Jane Tranter and Jack Thorne assuaged some fears about their adaptation during the Television Critics Association summer press tour in Beverly Hills on Wednesday. Tranter and Thorne confirmed that they plan to explore one book per season, and it was deeply important to them to tell one continuous story that lived up to Philip Pullman’s original work.
“Largely it’s one book per season,” Thorne told reporters. “There are a few treats I’ve stolen from future books that I’ve tried to infuse the [first] season with. To give that away would be to give away some quite big secrets, so I can’t quite do that here. The whole thing was looking at the whole series, three books, and go… ‘How can we celebrate them in the best possible way?’ And sometimes that celebration involved moving certain elements forward.”
The two-season pick-up at HBO no doubt helped them decide how to map out the story, especially where it concerned the show’s child actors who may grow out of their roles quite quickly.
“We have children in the show… and they don’t look the same age 12 months later,” said Trantor. “And yet, Lyra Belacqua (Dafne Keen), now Lyra Silvertongue is the same age [in Book 2]. We had to find a way of turning the piece around quite quickly to allow that story to be told. There’s a great theme in His Dark Materials of a girl going through puberty, and we wanted to be able to pace that story out appropriately, so that’s why we went with [16 episodes].”
His Dark Materials is slated to premiere in fall 2019 on HBO.