In Review: A Discovery of Witches – Season One Episode One

Diana Bishop, historian, and witch, accesses Ashmole 782 and knows she must solve its mysteries.

Synopsis: Diana Bishop, historian, and witch, accesses Ashmole 782 and knows she must solve its mysteries. She is offered help by the enigmatic Matthew Clairmont, but he’s a vampire and witches should never trust vampires.

Review: Taking over the Friday evening timeslot from Lucky Man is the new fantasy drama ‘A Discovery of Witches’, which is based on the book trilogy of the same name from American novelist Deborah Harkness.

Starring ‘Downton Abbey’s’ Matthew Goode. This first episode shows a lot of promise as a mystery slowly begins to unravel.

Based on the premise that Witches, Vampires, and Demons have been living among us for centuries in plain sight. This series looks to uncover how that all works.

The Story

This first episode does a great job of introducing the two principal characters of Diana Bishop a Witch who has spent most her life repressing her power. And vampire Matthew Clairmont who has a high standing among his kind.

The story begins to open up when Diana who is a historian with a special interest in Alchemy finds and opens Ashmole 782. A scroll so magical that it sends shockwaves through the supernatural community within the Oxford and Cambridge area, but even manages to get out as far as Finland.

When Matthew Clairmont starts to stalk Diana to try and find and access the scrolls things get very tense and just a tad spooky.

I loved the mythology set up around the scroll, which could well apparently wipe out the vampires if a Witch were to feel so inclined to use it in such a way.

The Acting

This first episode offers up some brilliant acting from the two principal actors. Matthew Goode manages to convey an air of mystery as Vampire Matthew Clairmont. While Teresa Palmer brings both a strange brew of vulnerability and strength to her role of Diana.

The scenes that both these actors share together sizzle with a mixture of sensuality and sexual tension. The dialogue between the two is very curt, direct and to the point with a barely contained air of politeness.

Other well-known actors on display include Alex Kingston of Doctor Who fame who plays the role of Diana’s aunt. It’s much less glamorous role for Kingston, but from the little, we see of her. One gets the feeling that she could well be a force to be reckoned with.


This opening episode delivers in every way possible. We get enough mythology to keep us asking questions and the two main characters get to make a very, very strong impression.

Helping create the tension and spookiness is a great incidental music score, which enhances the intrigue.

I look forward to seeing where all this will go in the weeks to come.

A Discovery of Witches - Season One Episode One
  • Story
  • Acting
  • CGI
  • Incidental Music

Ian Cullen is the founder of and has been a fan of science fiction and fantasy from birth. In the past few years he has written for 'Star Trek' Magazine as well as interviewed numerous comics writers, television producers and actors for the SFP-NOW podcast at: When he is not writing for Ian enjoys playing his guitar, studying music, watching movies and reading his comics. Ian is both the founder and owner of You can contact ian at:
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