When the opening rate of His Dark Materials, Northern Lights, was first adapted for the screen in 2007, many viewers were dissatisfied with the changes made to Philip Pullman's novel. Create a disappointing, clean version of the story.

Fans will be pleased to hear that the new BBC1 series is much better suited to Pullman's vision, barely deviating from the storyline, and skillfully captures the sense of wonder that makes up such a large part of the novels.

Speak with RadioTimes.comJames McAvoy, who plays Lord Asriel on the show and is an avowed fan of the books, said, "I do not think there are any The Much is different, I really do not know. I think it's a pretty faithful and loving adjustment. I think the people who decided to adapt and do it were massive fans of it. They did not just want to take it as "Oh, here's another fantasy world we can use to replace Westeros".

"There is a true love and affection for the material, so I think it has actually been translated into television pretty lovingly and carefully. Is there really, really different, I do not think so."

And although McAvoy could rightly say that's nothing Really we have not been able to notice a few changes in the series so far – starting with episodes one and two.

The opening

James McAvoy as Lord Asriel and Helen McCrory as Stelmaria in the flashback to His Dark Materials Book of Dust (BBC)

While Northern Lights begins with Lyra at Oxford and lives with scientists like The Master and The Librarian at Jordan College, the TV show decides for a slightly different introduction.

A scene before the opening credits shows Lord Asriel carrying the Baby Lyra into the Master's care by a supernatural tide – which is actually an indication of Pullman's newer Book of Dust trilogy.

Speak with RadioTimes.comAuthor Jack Thorne and executive producer Jane Tranter said they had received special permission from Pullman to record this.

"We discussed it with Philip Pullman, who kindly gave us permission to record this item," they said.

"We've used it very carefully, as readers of the book will find dust, but we think it gives the series the epic beginning it deserves."


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Jordan College Kitchen Boy and Lyra's Best Friend Roger is a main character in the first book of Pullman's trilogy – and it looks like it will not be any different on the show.

There are, however, some changes to Roger's character. First, he is portrayed as an orphan on the TV show, which was never the case in the books. And secondly, in the series, we see Lyra asking Mrs. Coulter if Roger can accompany her to London. In the books, Roger had already disappeared at this time – a suspected victim of the dreaded eaters.

In addition, in the TV show, the chance to rescue Roger is portrayed as a large part of Lyra's motivation to move to London. In the book, however, Lyra, though she was originally saddened by his disappearance, feels guilty for how little she thinks of Roger when taken under Mrs. Coulter's umbrella.

The Egyptians and Billy Costa

Anne-Marie Duff as Ma Costa in his dark materials (BBC)

Anne-Marie Duff as Ma Costa in his dark materials (BBC)

Early signs indicate that we will look more closely at the Egyptians, a group of characters with whom Lyra has good relationships, including key players such as John Faa and Farder Coram.

An early scene depicts Tony Costa, another Egyptian, as the subject of a growing-up ceremony, and his daemon has recently committed to its final form. This scene, which essentially serves as an introduction to the Egyptians, is new to the show as it is not included in the book at all.

A more notable change, however, concerns Tony's brother – Billy Costa. During the episode, Billy refers to his demon as a rattle, which in the books is actually the name of the demon of another character – Tony Makarios. This suggests that these two characters may have been combined for the TV show, as was the case in the stage version of the 2003 National Theater – but we will not know for sure until the series progresses.

The Magisterium

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The show has already given us an early glimpse of the Magisterium – the sinister ruling body that has a big impact on Pullman's world – which is mentioned in the first book by name only.

We also know that the powerful magisterium figures Lord Boreal and Father McPhail will play an expanded role throughout the show – watch it in future episodes.


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Although this is not a change in history, diehard fans will find that Dafne Keen, who plays Lyra, does not quite agree with Pullman's description in the books.

In the books, Lyra is described as blond rather than darker brown by Keen. However, we believe that Keen captures the feeling of adventure and incongruity so well that we are ready to overlook a slightly different hair color.

And Lyra is not the only one whose book description is not interpreted as a gospel – Lin-Manuel Miranda also does not quite fit in with Lee Scoresby's character.

Miranda talked about his casting RadioTimes.com"Of course, if I read his dark materials, I would not occupy myself first!

"If you think about what's on the page, you can not do better than [film adaptation The Golden Compass star] Sam Eliot in this movie. He's like Texan, he already has the mustache. He already has everything! I was just thinking hard, I do not know what my version will look like, but I'm here to ride. "

And it's not just the human characters whose appearance is slightly different – in the first episode we see Lyras demon Pantalaimon several times in the form of a tree marten – something that appears much later in the books.

We'll look for more deviations from the book throughout the show – but we assume they did a pretty good job of capturing the spirit of Pullman's work.


Following the episode last week, we are becoming much more aware of the Egyptians than in this phase of Pullman's novel. In this episode, we see them discussing and trying a rescue mission to free the kids from the devourers.

This is not necessarily an invention for the series – it is believed that the Egyptians are trying to find the children while Lyra is also in London. This happened only in the background – we'll take a closer look at the show.

We also see more of Billy Costa – who, we think, was fused with the book character Tony Makarios – how he deals with his fellow prisoners with his situation. This is where Billy met Lyras friend Roger, a meeting that we have not seen in this phase of the novels yet.

Speaking of Roger, the show has continued to give him more background story than in the books. After announcing last week that he's an orphan, he mentions later this week that he was taken by his aunt to Jordan College – something that is never mentioned in northern lights. We also see him drafting a letter to Lyra, which is another new addition to the show.

Mrs. Coulter, her monkey, and Father McPhail

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At the storylines, some minor changes have been made concerning Lyra's stay at Mrs. Coulter in London. One of these is that Pan, Lyras Dæmon, often hears sounds from the walls at night. It later turned out that Mrs. Coulter's monkey was spying on her and traversing secret passages.

While Lyra and Pan are also suspicious of Mrs. Coulter and her Dæmon in the books, these secret passages are new to the show.

Will Keen and Dafne Keen in his dark materials (BBC)

Will Keen and Dafne Keen in his dark materials (BBC)

We also see that Mrs. Coulter was visited by Father McPhail (Will Keen), a teacher of the Dark Magisterium – a figure that does not appear in the first novel – as he continues his extended role in the series.

Perhaps the biggest revelation we receive from Mrs Coulter this week is an announcement made by Lyra: Asriel is not her uncle, as she always thought, but actually her father. This, of course, is also the case in the books – but Lyra discovers it much later, and when she does, the information does not come from Ms. Coulter.

Lord Boreal

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Lord Boreal is a key figure in the trilogy of His Dark Materials, but as we mentioned last week, his role in the first book is relatively limited. We definitely do not object to him getting an expanded role, and that has continued this week.

In episode two, we see Boreal visiting a world much more akin to ours than the one in which Lyra lives. We see him typing a message on a smartphone before meeting Thomas, a character from Robert Emms, in a modern café.

This is a foretaste of what to expect in later series – we are only visiting our own world in the second book of Pullman's trilogy.

Ariyon Bakare, who plays Lord Boreal in the series, spoke to him RadioTimes.com about the increasing role his character plays in Series 1.

He said, "We see more of Lord Boreal. You see his journey and you see the beginnings of what he wants in book one.

"But you understand it somehow. The book does not understand the relationship between him and Mrs. Coulter. What they have done this time decides, "Why do not we investigate this relationship?" Why do not we see the beginnings of this relationship? "That's great.

Ariyon Bakare in his dark materials (BBC)

Ariyon Bakare in his dark materials (BBC)

"You have to do that for film and television or you will not be invested in. I think they've invested a lot in Boreal, he's the piece's male villain."

At the end of the episode, we also see how the boreal journalist Adele Stairmaster stifles – a pretty scene, but another addition to the books.

And Bakare says that this scene was actually one of his favorites from the series.

He said RadioTimes.com"There was a scene with Georgina Campbell – that was an amazing scene. That was one of the best scenes I ever did. I think the two scenes … if Boreal can be as mean and evil as he is then it really works.

"And if we work together and we both have our plans and you know that you want to end up doing that" hahahahaha "laugh."

We will continue to search for further variations and additions throughout the series.

His dark material will air on Sundays at 8pm on BBC1