His Dark Materials on BBC1
In the trailer for the major new BBC series ‘His Dark Materials’ above, there is a brief appearance at 1:08 for a digitised version one of our specimens.
Two years ago several of our specimens were borrowed by the production team involved in making the visual effects for the new series. Though they had a very long list of objects, unfortunately many of their wishlist items (including Lyra’s daemon’s stoat form) were unsuitable for scanning due to being included in a diorama.
However, they did borrow moths, stag beetles and a hare. These items were in our loan collection, so were available for general use as the possibility of damage wouldn’t affect our research collections. The items were scanned and digitised in top secret (we were not allowed to reveal our involvement until the series had been officially unveiled). They used the scanned specimens as a basis for the CGI animations of the animals. Puppets were also created for the actors to interact with in front of the cameras (though we don’t know if these were based on our specimens!).
The most high profile of the specimens appears to be Lee Scoresby’s daemon Hester the hare. Having watched the first episode, the hare and stag beetles are yet to make an appearance, but a digital version of a moth form of Lyra’s daemon may be observed in the scene where Lyra hides in a seat during Lord Asriel’s speech to the Oxford academics, asking for their funding of his research. You can read more about Lin Manuel Miranda’s character and Daemon in an online interview for Entertainment Weekly.
The hare, moths and beetles join our badger in the list of TV and film stars at the Booth. Our badger had previously been digitised for the base of the CGI badger in the Prince Caspian movie.
Lee Ismail, Curator of Natural Sciences