Coleg y Cymoedd collaborate with team behind hit TV show to support next generation of production talent

Ruth Wilson and Crew on the set of HDM 2

A college in the south Wales valleys is set to welcome the team behind hit BBC TV series, His Dark Materials, for an exclusive exhibition aimed at giving members of the public an insight into the inner workings of the world of television.

Coleg y Cymoedd will be holding a unique showcase at its Nantgarw campus that will allow the local community to see puppets and other creations from the popular fantasy series up close.

Masterclasses run by His Dark Materials producers and industry professionals will also be open to attendees, which will show visitors how the creatures are made and demonstrate what skills are needed to work in the sector.

Hosted in partnership with Bad Wolf, Screen Alliance Wales, Ian Johnson Publicity, and Creature Effects team responsible for all three series of His Dark Materials, the exhibition will be open to the public from the 4th – 11th March, with the free masterclasses available throughout the evenings from the 8th – 10th March.

Course leader and creative industries co-ordinator at Coleg y Cymoedd, Alistair Aston, has been working closely with industry partners to bring the exhibition to fruition and promote access to creative careers in the film sector.

He said: “This exhibition is a really exciting opportunity for us as a college, but also for young people and members of the public who are interested in working in the film industry. It is the first exhibition of its kind and will allow visitors to fully immerse themselves in the process of creating fantastical worlds and creatures for TV. They’ll get to see exactly how they are brought to life on screen, learning from industry experts – something which people don’t often get the opportunity to experience.

“With the help of our strong links to industry, our goal is to develop a centre of excellence for creature effects and visual effects – the processes of creating creatures and special effects for TV. We’re continually looking at ways we use innovative resources and train our learners within active studios and specialist facilities to give them the best chances of securing employment once they leave college.”

During the event, visitors will be able to walk through a recreated workshop at Coleg y Cymoedd, made to resemble the one used by the creature effects team during the hit BBC show’s filming, and will get to see first-hand the real daemon puppets that were used to bring to life the likes of Lyra’s Pantalaimon and Lord Asriel’s Stelmaria.

Alongside the immersive exhibition, the masterclasses, led by the CreatureFX team for the programme, will provide an exclusive peek into the process of puppet making, puppeteering, and visual effects needed to take the daemons from concept to studio to screen.

The college will also host a dedicated family workshop on Saturday 4th March, where children will be able to build their own daemons based on the designs and processes used for the show.

A number of Coleg y Cymoedd’s partner schools, as well as Screen Alliance Wales’ community groups, will also have access to the exhibition and workshops, in a bid to encourage more young people to engage with creative courses and vocations, and to promote accessibility to careers within Wales’ booming film industry.

Creature effects artists, Eliot Gibbins and Olivia Racionzer, were both part of the team responsible for creating the daemons for all three seasons of His Dark Materials, also working alongside the cast members to bring the daemons to life. The team have been working with Coleg y Cymoedd to make the exhibition, workshops and masterclasses a reality for learners and the public.

Eliot said: “A huge amount of work goes into creating puppets before the on-screen effects happen and we can’t wait to show the public the creativity and hard work that goes into creating a production of this scale.

“Coleg y Cymoedd really champion creative careers and provides learners with a strong education foundation with real industry links. This is something which is really important to us as it really helps young people to access the film industry.”

Olivia added: “We can’t wait to begin the exhibition and to work alongside learners and the public during the workshops and masterclasses. We’re very excited to present a Masterclass from the show’s designer and executive producer, Joel Collins, and the show’s series visual effects supervisor, Russell Dodgson.  We have Creature FX specific Masterclasses from Brian Fisher, the Golden Monkey Puppeteer, and William Todd-Jones who set up the department in season one.

“We hope that this event amplifies the great work the college is already doing to promote creative careers, and we’re looking forward to continuing our work alongside them in the future.”


Coleg y Cymoedd’s His Dark Materials exhibition will take place at it’s Nantgarw campus, opening times:

Saturday workshop: 4th March, 10am – 1pm

Public exhibition: 6th – 11th March, 10am – 8pm

Masterclasses: 9th & 10th March, 7pm.  

For further information and to book your free time slot for an exhibition, workshop, or masterclass, visit: