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Where Was ‘His Dark Materials’ Filmed?

November 25, 2019
5 min read

Bringing a world alive is a daunting task. Writers do it with their words, engaging the imagination of their readers, allowing them to run free in the world that can be as magnificent and as unbelievable as they want it to be. However, when it comes to bringing the same thing on the screen, the task becomes exponentially challenging. This time around, the reader has turned into a viewer, and the world that you present to them would only be as wondrous as you portray it on the screen. There is no running free here because the budget puts a tight constraint on what you can or can’t create. But when it comes to telling stories like ‘His Dark Materials’, the fine line has to be walked.

His Dark Materials Filming Locations

BBC and HBO have collaborated to bring Philip Pullman’s popular novel series to the television screen and they are spending a lot of money on it. Reportedly, the cost of creating each episode of the first season is almost the same as the money spent in creating the episodes of ‘Game of Thrones’ in its early seasons. This means lavish locations, stunning backgrounds, and a lot of CGI too. You can watch ‘His Dark Materials’ on BBC or HBO. Here are the places that serve as the filming locations for the series.

Oxford, UK

Oxford is an important part of Lyra’s life. It is where she grows up, where she runs around with her daemon, Pantalaimon, and her best friend, Roger. She knows the whole place inside out, and in the first episode, we get a thorough look into her life in Oxford. Her humble abode is the Jordan College.

Oxford University’s New College served as the filming location of Jordan. In addition to it, The Bridge of Sighs and Merton Street were also used in various capacities to capture the magic of Lyra’s world. But the first episode just sets the stage for the journey that takes Lyra to all sorts of places. Beyond this, most of the filming took place in various locations in Wales.

Wales, UK

On arriving in London, Lyra is taken to Mrs Coulter’s mansion and then they visit several places in the city. The Temple of Peace serves as the entrance façade for the lavish place where Mrs Coulter takes her for dinner. After this, the story quickly moves forward with Lyra soon embarking on the journey to the North. If the production team continued using real locations for the story, they would have had to travel a number of places. For example, in the first episode, Lord Asriel is shown in Svalbard, a location which comes into play later as well.

In a similar manner, as the season closes towards its finale, North becomes a prominent location in the story. It would have been impossible to shoot these scenes in the places covered with snow and biting winds slapping at the faces of the whole crew. These locations were created in Wolf Studios in Cardiff. At least six stages in the studio had been created to serve for various locations in the series, including the palace where the fight between Iorek and Iofur.

One of the most important stages in Lyra’s journey comes in the form of Trollesund. This is the port town where she comes in contact with the witches, meets the aeronaut Lee Scoresby and befriends the armoured bear, Iorek Byrnison. The stage for the scene was created out of scratch. The filming took place in Llangynidr Quarry in Crickhowell near Abergavenny in South Wales.

Beacons National Park, South Wales

Because the Gyptians travel through boats, there are a number of scenes that require the background of a river. A number of these scenes had been filmed in the Sharpness Docks in Gloucester. Another location that features in the show is the Brecon Beacons National Park in South Wales. In one of his tweets, actor Lin-Manuel Miranda, who plays the role of Lee Scoresby in the series, confirmed that filming had taken place in the stunning location.

Charting her way through all these places, Lyra makes many friends and comes across some heart-breaking secrets. Her journey truly is a marvellous thing, but there is one thing that makes it even better. In its early episodes, ‘His Dark Materials’ had made it clear that there are a number of parallel worlds and several windows exist between them. While Lyra uses one of the windows later in the series, Lord Boreal trumps everyone else in that matter. In the second episode, we watch him cross over from his universe to the one that is most probably ours. All one needs to travel across is a window. If you are on a lookout for that, you should head over to Pontcanna in Wales. The window is supposed to be somewhere in the Plasturton Gardens!

Read More: Shows Like His Dark Materials

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