A Discovery of Witches season 2: When does it start? Who is in the cast? Will there be a season 3? Catch up on the story so far

The supernatural Sky One series starring Matthew Goode and Teresa Palmer is back with more magic, new cast members and a trip to Elizabethan London.

By Alex Fletcher Published: 1 January 2021 - 9.56am
Matthew Goode and Teresa Palmer in A Discovery of Witches season 2

Watch A Discovery of Witches season 2 on Sky One with NOW

It’s been a long wait for the Discovery of Witches fandom, but fans can finally rejoice as season two is unleashed on Sky One with NOW.

Darker, bigger and more magical, season two takes fans deeper into the All Souls Trilogy universe and fantastical world created by writer Deborah Harkness and there are some big changes from season one.

We join the second series as reluctant witch Diana Bishop and vampire Matthew Clairmont seek refuge in the fascinating and treacherous world of Elizabethan London.

There they must find a powerful witch to help Diana control her magic and search for the elusive Book of Life.

How to watch Discovery of Witches season 2

A Discovery of Witches season 1 and 2 are available on Sky One with NOW Entertainment Membership.

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Watch A Discovery of Witches if you loved…

True Blood, Supernatural, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Carnival Row, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.

Who is in the Discovery of Witches cast for season two?

Tom Hughes as Kit Marlowe

Matthew Goode and Teresa Palmer are back alongside familiar faces Sarah Bishop, Emily Mather, Nathaniel Wilson, Sophie Norman, Ed Bluemel, Aisyha Hart, Owen Teale and Trevor Eve.

New cast joining the show for season two include Tom Hughes, Steven Cree, Sheila Hancock, James Purefoy and Paul Rhys. 

Talking about his role as Kit Marlowe in season two, Tom Hughes said: “My character is the playwright and contemporary of Shakespeare. Kit is good friends with Walter Raleigh and Matthew. Kit thinks Matthew has gone off for a two-week jolly, but unbeknownst to him, the Matthew that returns is the Matthew we know from the present day.

“He is the same embodiment of the man but he’s different and his relationship with Diana is a whole new thing. Kit has a mercurial element to him. He has an obsessive streak and a petulance, but also there’s this intelligence.

“He’s hyper tuned to other people’s feelings and he becomes quite obsessed with this new version of Matthew, what this means to him, and the loss of love that he feels when he’s cast aside in favour of Diana.”

James Purefoy is Philippe de Clermont

Talking about playing Matthew Goode’s father, James Purefoy said: “It’s a relationship that’s been going on hundreds and hundreds of years, so it’s complicated. It’s a complex, ambiguous, difficult relationship.

“If you take the average relationship of a father and son and multiply it by the difficulty they might have, and then multiply that by several hundred years, then you get entrenched positions. He’s used Matthew for some dodgy things in the past, like using him as an assassin, but underneath it all there is a profound sense of love.”

Introducing the character Gallowglass, Steven Cree said: “He’s Matthew’s nephew within the vampire family tree, which isn’t quite the same as the human one – it’s all about who bit you and made you a vampire.

“As such, he’s incredibly loyal to Matthew and to the de Clermont family, despite any misgivings he might have towards Philippe, Matthew’s dad, because of history.

“Gallowglass will do anything for Matthew. He’s a soldier of fortune – having been around for a few hundred years he seems to enjoy life. He’s a mix of a lot of different things. He’s gregarious and light-hearted. He’s the guy with the one-liner to diffuse the atmosphere.”

Steven Cree as Gallowglass

The legendary Sheila Hancock plays witch Goody Alsopp and said: “She knows all the spells that other people don’t know. There’s this girl, Diana, who has the potential to be a very good witch but she’s from another era and I’m expecting her to come into our Elizabethan period on Hallowe’en, and indeed she arrives and I take her under my wing and teach her my ways because she doesn’t yet know how to use her powers. She’s a weaver, like Goody, and in fact she ends up being better than Goody.

“They are both very, very special witches. They’re far superior to the other witches. I think the reality of those sorts of women in real life is that they were old women who did the equivalent of what medicine is today. They’d be the chemists of the village. They’re good people and very wise.”

Season 1 catch up  - The story so far…

For anyone who might have forgotten how the story began, who better than Matthew Goode himself to recap us on the events of season one?

“It starts with Diana Bishop, a Professor studying at Oxford, falling over. Her sheets of paper zoom back into her hands. So, as an audience member you know straight away there’s magic involved,” explained Goode.

“She goes to the Bodleian Library and takes out a book, which turns out to be Ashmole 782. Later in the series, we learn this to be The Book of Life. Matthew, who I play, has overheard Diana has the Book of Life in her possession, but Diana doesn’t have the book as it’s disappeared again.

“There is an attraction between them, but the Congregation, made up of witches, vampires and daemons, has set rules that do not allow for species to mix. Matthew and Diana fall for each other and he takes her to his mother’s house who hates witches.

“They realise that in order to escape the clutches of the Congregation and figure out how much power Diana may or may not have, they must time walk back to 1590. At that time, I was in the guise of another Matthew - Matthew Roydon - who was the head of The School of Night with characters like Walter Rayleigh and Kit Marlowe, both of whom are a big part of season two.”

Explaining the differences with season two, he added: “In season one, Diana was a bit of a victim of circumstance. In season two, she’s a lot smarter and as a historian, she thrives  on going back in time. Diana also steps up in the relationship, looking after Matthew mentally because he starts to lose himself. It becomes a proper marriage based on equality.”

Where is A Discovery of Witches filmed? 

Filming took place in South Wales and on location in Oxford and Venice.

Production designer James North revealed how the new series was filmed differently to series one.

“We time travel and find ourselves in 1590, Blackfriars, London. The overall concentration from a design point of view is about trying to make sure we recreate period London to the best of our ability and keep it as historically accurate as possible,” he said.

“For instance, we’ve tried to make our exterior streets really narrow so they’re more like alleyways to echo Diana feeling claustrophobic in London.

“We’ve tried to keep all our supporting artists busy, so it feels real. We’ve not done any of those traditional period tropes, like a big white street with a horse and cart rolling down it and kids playing hoopla on the side. Again, there’s no people throwing buckets of sewage out the windows. There was an emphasis on cleanliness as they were terrified of the plague and that side of it comes across. I feel like we’ve got a reality of living in London in that period.”

Talking about the impressive set, he said: “We probably spent six to eight weeks in that design process before we actually started putting stuff together. Once we started building, there was an eight-week build process in order to construct all of those streets, paint them and dress them before the film crew turned up. It’s a very quick turnaround, but that is the nature of television and serial drama. We adapt elements as we go.

“There’s a huge amount of reference and research that goes into it and there’s a lot of communal design. It’s not just about the four walls, it’s about every little bit of detail from the lighting, furniture, candles to cups people interact with, chairs people sit on and floor coverings. It’s all part of giving the actors as much chance as possible to really feel that they are in a real world.”

Behind-the-scenes magic

One of the most enchanting elements of the new series are the costumes, which were created by costume designer Sarah Arthur and her team.

“Once I had the script, I started doing research into Elizabethan London, specifically Elizabeth I and the year 1590,” said Arthur.

“It was a very specific time for fashion, very black and white. I researched Nicholas Hilliard as he did a lot of portrait painting at the time. I spoke at length to author Deborah Harkness, who is a historian and quite knowledgeable of the period. There are not a lot of pictorial references other than the portrait paintings, which is specific to the noble people of the time, so it was difficult to get a feel of the everyday people.

“The British costume historian Janet Arnold’s books were a huge help and pictures of original pieces that included corsets. As you can imagine, I gathered a huge amount of reference material, and bit by bit I pieced it together.”

Arthur added: “Everything has been made for the main cast. With Matthew, a jacket he wears is similar to an original jacket but slightly earlier than 1590. I actually sourced everything, even down to the buttons and travelled far and wide to find all components.

"We’ve made all our shirts, everything is hand stitched. We’ve had the hats made, collected lots of feathers from here and there. Not to mention, hand-made shoes, head gear, hand embroidered slippers.

“For Teresa, her costumes have lots of embroidery. We’ve had three pairs of boots made for Diana based on a pair of riding boots of Elizabeth I. As you can imagine, it’s a very long process before you even start filming.”

Will there be Discovery of Witches season 3?

A season three is already confirmed. Season two and season three were commissioned and began filming one after the other, so the wait for the next batch of episodes hopefully won’t be too long.

What books are A Discovery of Witches based on?

A Discovery of Witches is a novel by Deborah Harkness, first published back in 2011.

The two follow up novels, Shadow of Night and The Book of Life round out the trilogy and the story of Matthew and Diana.

And if you’re fully in love with the All Souls universe, The World of All Souls companion guide is also recommended reading to understand the tiny details built by Harkness in the vast universe she has built for the incredible characters.

Discovery of Witches season 2 - reviews

Fans and critics were both full of praise for season one's mix of romance, sizzle and layered, complex universe building.

Early reviews for season two seem to be equally impressed by the show's shift of gears.

The Radio Times sci fi and fantasy editor Huw Fullerton said: "This series is only as strong as its leading couple. Matthew Goode and Teresa Palmer’s chemistry is as palpable as ever in season two, and those who watch this series for their romance alone won’t be disappointed.

"Overall, A Discovery of Witches season two is compelling, escapist fun, and eminently addictive even for the most casual of viewers."

Watch A Discovery of Witches season 1 and 2 box set on Sky One with NOW Entertainment Membership.

Watch all the shows and sport you love on BT TV

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