His Dark Materials boss reveals James McAvoy's Lord Asriel episode was axed from season two and explains why

HIS Dark Materials boss has revealed why James McAvoy's Lord Asriel episode was axed from season two.

Fans of the BBC adaptation of Philip Pullman's books had hoped to see more of the actor in season two, with him only popping up in the season finale.

However, showrunner Jane Tranter has revealed how James, 41, had actually filmed a special episode in Wales in March this year, only to be thwarted by the coronavirus pandemic shutting down TV and film production around the globe.

Season two is based on Pullman's second book, The Subtle Knife, which only includes a few brief references to Lord Asriel, but Jane and writer Jack Thorne had wanted to include an episode that showed what the character was up to while the events of the book was taking place.

Season two follows Lyra as she steps through a portal opened by Asriel at the end of season one into Cittàgazze, a city ravaged by beings called spectres who attack and feed on humans.

Jane told Entertainment Weekly: "What we wanted to do was actually explain the story of Cittàgazze, how the town was deserted and Asriel's role in that, and what happened to Asriel and where he goes and why.

"That missing episode [took place] three days before the start of season 2. So you flash back three days and then you catch up with where season 2 started."

Jane and Jack managed to use some of the footage James shot in the final moments of season two, which saw Asriel find the angels and ask them to join forces with him against the Authority.

Season three has now been commissioned, focusing on the events of the third book, The Amber Spyglass.

While the ongoing pandemic could cause further delays to its production, Jane isn't sure if James' axed episode will be revisited.

She explained: "If we were to ever look at that episode again, it would be a complete one-off special.

"I don't know if, by the time we've done The Amber Spyglass, what the appetite would be for that the further away you move from The Subtle Knife."

She continued: "It's very intwined with all the mythology of that world. It felt like a subtle way of answering all the questions the audience had about Cittàgazze, about spectres, about some of the mythology. So, I don't know."

His Dark Materials is available on BBC iPlayer

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