Biggest new British TV show in last five years revealed

The ratings are in

The new BBC/HBO series His Dark Materials – based on the books of Phillip Pullman – has become the biggest new British TV show of the last five years.

The show’s first episode aired on both networks on Sunday night (November 4).

The first episode of the eight-part series drew in a massive 7.2 million viewers, which is the largest since 2014, when the launch of The Musketeers picked up 7.4 million, Deadline reports.

Other BBC One dramas debuted at 5.1 million (Gentleman Jack) and 4.5m (Baptiste and Les Miserables) (4.5M), and Les Miserables (4.5M). The biggest existing show’s ratings of the year came for the first episode of the fifth series of Line of Duty, which drew in 7.8 million viewers.

His Dark Materials

Bear-knuckle fighter: Iorek Byrnison readies for battle in the ‘His Dark Materials’ trailer.

An NME review of His Dark Materials calls the new series “a magnificent retelling of Philip Pullman’s fantasy epic,” adding: “For the most part, His Dark Materials has a very regal vibe. The cinematography is beautiful and the cameras frequently cut to wide, sweeping shots of the countryside – accompanied by a majestic score that wouldn’t sound out of place in a Bond movie.

“Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings are touchstones here – and the tone is very much like a big, Christmas-time family blockbuster. The difference, crucially, is that nothing feels hammy or cheesy.”

His Dark Materials writer Jack Thorne has recently compared character Lyra to Greta Thunberg, saying: “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.

“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. “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.”