Luxury casting has its drawbacks. in philip pullmans dream trilogy about numerous worlds, it believed quite all-natural for lord asriel to-be a brooding lack for usually, as well as for aeronaut lee scoresby to materialise primarily as soon as the young heroine lyra needs a lift. inside adaptation, now on series two, it merely indicates we do not see enough of james mcavoy and lin-manuel miranda. conversely, sometimes theres instead too-much background pushing its way to the foreground. maybe in a bid to increase the series appeal beyond childrens tv, adaptor jack thorne goes huge from the grown-up things about the magisterium (pullmans metaphorical critique of christianity). at the very least ruth wilsons chilling mrs coulter is a sharp-suited villainess everyone can enjoy.

Lyra and certainly will tend to be both from oxford, but their university towns lie in alternative universes. wills is within everything we would recognise as our society, while in lyras, everybody else possesses an animal daemon, you can find chatting bears and witches haunt the north heavens. today lyra and can have cautiously joined causes in a strange, between-worlds town populated only by feral kiddies and zombie-like adults. if theyre to escape, they should be willing to trust each other.

Pullmans fantastically rebellious youthful heroine was an important aspect in the prosperity of the publications. in dafne keens characterisation, carefree and irrepressible are turned into surly and unattractive. lyra nevertheless likes jumping in furniture together shoes on, but at the very least now keen has grown to become a shade more expressive. theres a unique touch of humour in lyras unsavouriness; her daemon, pan, must tell this lady to scrub. if scenes between lyra and certainly will tend to be dealing with a broader emotional measurement, its largely by way of amir wilsons sensitive portrayal of a hurt and difficult boy.

Straight back at magisterium, where mrs coulters incorporating torture and murder to a currently impressive cv, the priests screeches of heresy! and blasphemy! are a little too reminiscent of monty python is terrifying. but the contrast of the stern and craggy faces against a minimalist set worth john pawson works very well.

The witches are thoroughly cheesy, whether running through violent storm clouds like supermodels with jetpacks, or standing around like taking part in a covid-safe style tv show. the top witches, ruta skadi and serafina pekkala (jade anouka and ruta gedmintas) address both in hoity-toity shades with regal formality. rather than the embodiment of liberty and imagination, they feel like the flipside into the magisterium, just with much better outfits.

Meanwhile, in our oxford, responses needs to be looked for concerning the essential dilemma of dust, from scholars more wedded to research than religion. dark matter? sub-atomic particles? one thing related to the i ching? blasphemy!

On bbc1 from november 8 at 8.10pm and hb0 from november 16 at 9pm

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