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Where is BBC's His Dark Materials filmed? Everything you need to know

The series stars James McAvoy and Ruth Wilson

Aisha Nozari
Online Writer
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Said to have the highest ever budget for any BBC programme, His Dark Materials has been met with rave reviews. Based on the epic Philip Pullman series and translated to screen by BAFTA award-winning screenwriter Jack Thorne, the adaption is directed by Tom Hopper and features world-class actors including Ruth Wilson and James McAvoy. But above all, His Dark Materials is known for being magical and otherworldly, which leads to the question: where was His Dark Materials filmed?

hisdarkmaterialsbts © Photo: BBC

Inside Cardiff film studio, Bad Wolf

Believe it or not, many of the show's most iconic scenes were filmed indoors – even the interiors of Jordan College, Bolvangar and snippets of The North. Speaking to the Radio Times, executive producer Jane Tranter explained why large portions of the show were filmed indoors on purpose-built sets at Cardiff's Bad Wolf studios. She explained: "I always had a strong Spidey-sense that the way to do His Dark Materials was to do it indoors. And that because it’s a fantasy world, you’re not building Oxford you’re building fantasy Oxford, you’re not building the North you’re building fantasy North. But it’s not that far fantasy.

"It has to have a slightly different feel to it for an audience than just going out and shooting a snowy wasteland. And I always thought that the clue to everything was to almost turn in on ourselves. And make it all about the text and performance. And then let the people who do the rest of it, do the rest of it. And just really, really let them off the leash."

MORE: When will Lin Manuel Miranda appear in His Dark Materials? 

The exteriors of the Welsh capital were also used during filming. The leafy Oxford suburb where Lord Boreal's portal is hidden is actually a street called Plasturton Gardens in Pontcanna, Cardiff. The Welsh Assembly Government foyer (again in Cardiff) also stood in as a Magisterium building.

hisdarkmaterialsstudio © Photo: BBC


Many of the exterior shots seen in His Dark Materials really were shot in Oxford. One of the university's largest sites, New College, was used for the exterior shots of Jordan, and other Oxford landmarks used for filming included The Botanical Gardens and The Bridge of Sighs. 

hisdarkmaterialsoxford © Photo: BBC

Gyptian water scenes

Seeing as the Gyptians are a group of water travellers who spend much of their time on canal boats, it was important to get their filming location exactly right. So, the Dark Materials crew headed to Sharpness Docks in Gloucestershire, where shooting took place on a nearby segment of the River Severn.

MORE: Fans shocked at Harry Potter star's transformation on BBC's His Dark Materials – did you spot him?

hisdarkmaterialswaterscenes © Photo: BBC

Crickhowell, Abergavenny, Wales

By episode four, Lyra and co have reached Trollesund – a port town in Lapland. But the snowy location was far from the Scandinavian region it looked so much like. In fact, filming actually took place in Crickhowell, a town near Abergavenny in Wales. The crew built an entire town in the valleys, and the end results were astonishing. The finished set was also scanned by a drone so that a digital version of the set could be created, meaning that additional features could be added in once filming was completed.

hisdarkmaterialslapland © Photo: BBC

Blaenavon, Wales

According to the BBC, several scenes were filmed in former ironworks in this south Wales town.

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