Brighton Life

Brighton Hare Transformed

A BRIGHTON MUSEUM exhibit has landed a starring role in the new BBC1 drama ‘His Dark Materials’. The Booth, the natural history museum in Dyke Road, loaned a stuffed hare to the production company which used the animal as a starting point for a CGI character.

The TV series, called ‘ravishing’ and ‘epic’ by critics, is based on ‘His Dark Materials’ novels by Philip Pullman. It is set in an alternative world where people have animals as ‘daemons’ or physical representations of their soul. In this instance, the hare was transformed digitally into Hester, an arctic hare voiced by American comedian Cristela Alonzo. She is the daemon of aeronaut and adventurer Lee Scoresby, played by Lin-Manuel Miranda, who travels to the North Pole. Scoresby teams up with the main character Lyra, played by Dafne Keen on a perilous journey to the North.

Lin-Manuel Miranda as Scoresby

The hare was not the only item borrowed from the Booth. Curator of Natural Sciences at the Booth Museum, Lee Ismail, said: “The production team borrowed moths, stag beetles and a hare. The items were in our loan collection which is available for general use on request. It means any possible damage wouldn’t affect our research collections. The items were scanned and digitised in top secret around two years ago. Staff at the museum 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. In the first episode, 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.

‘His Dark Materials’ is on BBC1 Sundays and on the iPlayer. The hare will be on display in the museum for new-found fans of ‘His Dark Materials’.

Booth Museum of Natural History, Free admission, 194 Dyke Road, Brighton BN1 5AA Tel 03000 290900

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