A Discovery Of Witches: 13 Things You Need To Know About Your New Fave Show
Supernatural, sexy and surprising: here's everything you need to know about the huge new show, direct from San Diego Comic-Con 2018.
The hype is real: based on the best-selling series of supernatural drama novels, A Discovery Of Witches is primed to be your new fave show.
The upcoming fantasy romance follows the story of Diana Bishop, a reluctantly powerful witch, and Matthew Clairmont, a vampire, in a world where vampires, witches and demons live hiding in plain sight amongst totally unaware humans. When Diana discovers a lost book that all creatures are desperate to get their hands on, things go from weird to chaotic to deadly in no time – and that includes her meeting Matthew as a result. It promises to be sexy, grown up and totally binge-worthy.
The show’s stars, Teresa Palmer, Owen Teale, Alex Kingston and Valarie Pettiford, as well as author Deborah Harkness and producer Lachlan MacKinnon, took to the stage today at pop culture event of the year, San Diego Comic Con, to show us just why we’re gonna be obsessed when it hits our screens.
Here’s everything we learnt about your new fave show…
It may be about witches, vampires and demons – but it’s rooted in real history. Yes, really!
Author Deborah Harkness is an IRL historian, and a professor at the University of Southern California. Inspiration for the A Discovery Of Witches series struck ten years ago, when she was in an airport book store on holiday in Mexico, and realised that fantasy novels were everywhere. “I started wondering, if there really were vampires, what do they do for a living? And how would they date?” she explained during the show’s Comic Con panel. Hey, it’s a question we’ve often wondered!
Sparks will fly… literally with magic! But also, with pure sexy chemistry!
“The spark between us was there from the start,” said Teresa Palmer (Diana Bishop) during the panel, when speaking about making the on-screen magic with her co-star Matthew Goode, who plays Matthew Clairmont, “We had really good banter and I felt so comfortable with him to explore these characters. It felt magic from the start.”
Diana and Matthew’s relationship is going to be passionate AF
“Its forbidden love: their love is so intense, they have a need for each other… there aren’t words to describe that kind of passionate connection. It goes against everything that she’s been taught in her life, but she cant help herself – the pull is just too strong,” says Teresa Palmer, “It’s chaotic and beautiful and passionate and romantic.” “And dangerous!” added Doctor Who star Alex Kingston, who plays Diana’s aunt, Sarah.
It was almost a movie before it became a TV show
“We pursued a movie first, but it became really clear that A Discovery of Witches was not going to fit into a 90 minute time frame,” said Harkness at Comic Con. If you’ve picked up the nearly-800-page book, you’ll understand!
The story is set in places like Oxford and New York, but the Brit production was actually filmed in Wales
And that meant recreating Oxford University’s iconic Bodleian Library there too: not a small task, as the real one is the second largest in Britain, and one of the oldest in Europe. “We actually built that in the studio – the entire Bodleian Library - and Deb knows the Bodleian Library like the back of her hand,” reveals producer Lachlan MacKinnon, “So when Deb came into the set for the very first time, she was quite overwhelmed.”
Teresa Palmer learnt real life skills to play Diana Bishop
As well as being an all-powerful witch, Diana Bishop is an alchemical history professor at the University of Oxford. And it turns out, you don’t just pick up a Special Collections book, learnt Palmer, there’s a specific art to it: “They showed me how to turn pages, the way you would place the weights so perfectly, you don’t just pick up a book like that.! No one else knew how to handle the book, so on the shoot, when Ashmole came out, I was like, ‘No, you place the weight, here!’ The director was like, ’Um, that’s actually taking a really long time!’ I was like, ‘No, this is how it has to be done!’
Game of Thrones star Owen Teale plays villain Peter Knox – but don’t judge him too harshly…
On playing witch Peter Knox, Owen Teale said at the show’s panel, “You might look at him as the villain of the piece, but he has tremendous integrity, and his cause is to put back his species where they rightfully belong, on an equal setting to vampires…. If we created vampires originally, as I believe is in this book, then we can uncreate them. Call me a baddie if you like! I’m going to stick up for my character!”
Get to know the Ashmole 782: The lost manuscript that’s kind of a big deal
Speaking on the Comic Con panel about his character, Owen Teale said, “The book is everything and I’ve been looking for it for a very long time, and there’s many rumours about where it exists in the Bodleian Library.” To which, Teresa Palmer pulled out THE book, with a cool “Is this what you’re looking for?” “You can’t buy that on Amazon,” said Teale. Well she IS a witch…
The characters are diverse, and Diana’s aunts Sarah and Em are no exception
On Sarah and Emily’s loving relationship and the way sexuality is portrayed in the show, Alex Kingston revealed, “In the world of the creatures, in a sense, sexuality is not a problem at all – the racism is between the actual different species. So there’s no questioning of Sarah and Em’s love, the questioning is between a witch and a vampire, and that is the thing that is absolutely forbidden. And the same with ethnicity, there’s absolutely nothing… so it’s very interesting, because it addresses the same problems that humans have, but they’re in different ways. Its just a given that Sarah and Em are together.” Valarie Pettiford, who plays Emily added, “they love each other, period.”
Bringing the supernatural story from the books to the screen presents new challenges
It’s one thing to imagine magic on a page, but its another to show it actually happening. Teresa Palmer revealed the challenges that playing a witch on screen brings, “She has all these incredible powers. We had to create the way in which we showed these powers. We had wire work, we had to do a lot of stunts. Luckily, we had Deb at our fingertips, so I could message her and say ‘How do you see this unravelling. How does this power come out of Diana?’”
It’s going to air in the UK in September
You’ll be able to watch it on Friday 14th September on Sky One and Now TV.
And here’s how to watch it in the US
It was revealed at Comic Con that the show will be airing on the Sundance Now and on Shudder in the US.
Fans of the books should prepare themselves for some changes between the novels and the TV show
Author Deborah Harkness got real about the fans’ worries about the beloved series being adapted for TV: “I’m sensing a lot of anxiety! I can’t tell you how those changes are going to register for you. So things that I was OK with, you might be like, ‘WHAT DO YOU MEAN THE BASE BOARDS IN THE BISHOP KITCHEN ARE NOT BROWN?’” She added, “It is an adaptation, and what an adaption does is take a work and change it so it an be enjoyed in a different format. So it’ s never going to be exactly what’s in the book. My recommendation to everybody is to sit there and keep calm and just enjoy the ride.”