‘His Dark Materials’: Lyra is like Greta Thunberg, says writer Jack Thorne

BBC and HBO's new adaptation premieres on November 3

Jack Thorne, the writer of an epic new TV adaptation of Philip Pulman’s His Dark Materials book series, has drawn comparisons between its main character and climate change activist Greta Thunberg.

Speaking at a special London premiere screening of the fantasy series, Thorne praised Pullman for choosing to tell the story of Lyra in his books – a young girl who journeys to the far north to save her best friend from a group of kidnappers – over a man’s.

“The thing that I most admire about his [Pullman’s] telling is that there’s an obvious story to be told and it’s Asriel’s story,” he began. “But he doesn’t tell it, he tells Lyra’s [story], and that choice between following the person who’s intent on greatness, Asriel, and abandoning that in order to follow the person intent on goodness in Lyra is such a bold and brilliant choice.”

Later, an audience member asked the screenwriter (who also penned Harry Potter and the Cursed Child for the West End) if there were any parallels to be drawn between the world of His Dark Materials and real life.

“We just saw today, a protestor being removed from the streets without due process of law and it was done quite openly by a group of people who felt they were entitled to do it and they denied another group of people the right to protest,” responded Thorne.

“We live in scary times and I think there’s so much in Philip’s book that’s about now and where we’re at now, even more than when he first wrote it.

Lyra

Bear-knuckle fighter: Iorek Byrnison readies for battle in ‘His Dark Materials’. Credit: BBC/ HBO

“You know, Greta Thunberg, Lyra, there are quite a lot of similarities there. There’s so much from what we’re going through now that can be drawn on from these amazing books.”

Other panelists speaking at the event included executive producer Jane Tranter and cast members Ruth Wilson, Clarke Peters and Dafne Keen, who plays Lyra in the series.

Following the Greta Thunberg comments, Keen described her character as “a force of nature” and spoke of her pride at being selected for the role. She went on to detail her hope for “what every single girl” should take from watching the show – that they should “not be scared, go out there, be yourself, because if you’re a force of nature, which Lyra is, you will make yourself be seen and heard.”

Details of upcoming series were also detailed on the night, with Tranter revealing season two is already in production. The industry veteran also confirmed that the team “plan to adapt the books as the books were written,” with Northern Lights forming season one, The Subtle Knife being told in season two and Pullman’s final book in the trilogy getting the same treatment in future seasons.

However, Tranter did concede that “magnificent beast” The Amber Spyglass “may need some time to be wrestled to the ground” and that it “might need more than eight episodes.”

‘His Dark Materials’ begins on BBC One on Sunday November 3