Viewers of new BBC series The Luminaries have slammed the show's "bewildering" plot, complaining that they can't see or hear anything due to "awful" lighting and a mumbling cast.

The miniseries launched on Sunday night in the UK and was watched by an audience of 5.3 million, but they were quick to voice their disdain on Twitter afterward.

The drama is an adaptation of Eleanor Catton's 2013 Booker-winning novel of the same name, and stars the likes of Eve Hewson, Eva Green and Himesh Patel.

Set in New Zealand at the height of the 1860s gold rush, Dublin-born actress Hewson, 28 - who is the daughter of U2 frontman Bono and his wife, activist Ali Hewson - plays Anna Wetherell - a young woman who sails to the country from Britain in 1965 to begin a new life.

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Hard to watch: Viewers of new BBC series The Luminaries have slammed the show's 'awful' lighting and 'bewildering' plot. Photo / Supplied
Hard to watch: Viewers of new BBC series The Luminaries have slammed the show's 'awful' lighting and 'bewildering' plot. Photo / Supplied

She is taken under the wing of a brothel owner Lydia Wells, played by Eva Green, and takes a romantic interest in fellow passenger, Emery Stains, played by Himesh Patel.

The storyline is intricately woven with another set nine months later - which sees a murder investigation after a body is discovered in a hut alongside a woman passed out after taking opium.

BBC dramas such as Poldark, Taboo, SS-GB and Jamaica Inn have all been criticised for their poor sound quality, and containing "mumbling".

It is a problem that has plagued the BBC for years, with BBC director general Tony Hall saying in 2013: "I don't want to sound like a grumpy old man, but I also think muttering is something we could have a look at.

"Actors muttering can be testing - you find you have missed a line - you have to remember that you have an audience."

As complaints over sound issues arose again 2016 when Happy Valley aired, Lord Hall told executives to look into "audibility" issues.

The following year, Charlotte Moore, controller of BBC TV Channels and iPlayer, told the Voice of the Listener and Viewer conference that they were going to do everything they could to prevent the problem again, including creating a new set of guidelines.

However, these issues have not only carried on with The Luminaries, but several viewers complained that they weren't able to understand the plot, because this time, they couldn't see what was going on.

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Taking to Twitter in their droves, viewers penned: "What was the matter with sound quality in #TheLuminaries? It sounded as though everybody had bags on their heads. Made it even harder to follow a plot that changed direction so often. Miss a second and whoops! Lost!"

"The Luminaries BBC 1 intriguing and beautifully shot but anybody know what the hell is going on ????"; ''I'm gonna put this out there ... I've not got a Feckin Clue What's Actually going on!! #TheLuminaries"; "Giving #TheLuminaries a go, but it's looking dreadfully like one of those series where it's perpetually dark and I can't actually see anything that's happening!"

"Is the book as weird and confusing as this BBC adaptation ?? #TheLuminaries"; "Is it really a new BBC show if there aren't people all over Twitter complaining that they don't understand what's going on? #TheLuminaries [sic]".

"Need to turn brightness up on TV. Haven't a clue what's going on #TheLuminaries"; "Thank you BBC for making the opening few minutes of The Luminaries so dark it's impossible to work out what's going on. Fingers crossed it gets better."

"I'll stick with it but I'm getting bored with muddled time-lines (can't we just have a beginning, middle and end) and awful lighting. #TheLuminaries."

"I was left disappointed+underwhelmed. All the expense of a lavish production, but a heavily convoluted plot+a lack of relatability makes this series highly forgettable. Eve Hewson did her best, but once you think she looks like Emily Blunt's Sister, you just wish it was Emily Blunt."

"Beautiful costumes and setting. Bewildering plot and not found affinity for any characters yet. I sold it to my family as Poldark-esque. We were not gripped and it was humorless and I missold it."

There was some support for the drama, however, with viewers penning: "Well I enjoyed the #Luminaries and I'll watch again. Atmospheric and mysterious. I hadn't much clue what was going on but the lighting and costumes and acting were gorgeous to watch."

"The Luminaries: Warm reviews, but was it (literally) too dark? Not for me. I thought it was visually stunning. Now't wrong with it on my LG TV."

Director Claire McCarthy, previously said about the lighting: "The colour palette is more gothic and grounded in the shadows. We wanted a sense of mystery and intrigue and a kind of burnished golden world inside the interiors.

Talking point: The miniseries launched on Sunday night in the UK and was watched by an audience of 5.3 million, but they were quick to voice their thoughts on Twitter afterwards. Photo / Supplied
Talking point: The miniseries launched on Sunday night in the UK and was watched by an audience of 5.3 million, but they were quick to voice their thoughts on Twitter afterwards. Photo / Supplied

"We were trying to inhabit the kind of world and the resources that they would have at that time so we were embraced that as a visual aesthetic.

"We wanted there to be a visceral quality to the show, rather than it to feel typically period or dusty, and so there needed to be an energy and a dynamism to the way the camera captured the world."

Among the dimly-lit scenes in the opening episode was a raunchy part starring Hewson, who was seen romping with another woman's husband.

The actress - who plays an Irish prostitute in the series - was filmed having sex on a beach in the racy scenes.

The drama is an adaptation of Eleanor Catton's 2013 Booker-winning novel of the same name, and stars the likes of Eve Hewson, Eva Green (pictured) and Himesh Patel. Photo / Supplied
The drama is an adaptation of Eleanor Catton's 2013 Booker-winning novel of the same name, and stars the likes of Eve Hewson, Eva Green (pictured) and Himesh Patel. Photo / Supplied

The screen star made her acting debut in 2005 alongside her sister Jordan in the short film Lost and Found.

She has also appeared in The 27 Club in 2008, Steven Spielberg's Bridge of Spies and more recently starred in 2018 action-adventure film Robin Hood as Marion - the protagonist's love interest and girlfriend of Will Tillman.

Speaking to Radio Times about landing the roles, Eve admitted that having a famous father in Bono helped open doors for her.

She confessed: "That's never been a problem for me, and I think that's because of my family.

"That's not the way the system should work, of course, but if the door is open, walk through the door.

"It can then become a bit of a hindrance, because they can't separate you from your father or see you as an individual.

"Often, they have very low expectations, and they really don't think you're going to be good. And then you are quite good, and they are quite surprised."

• The Luminaries series is a TVNZ/BBC co-production and is available on TVNZ OnDemand in New Zealand