BBC One's The Luminaries is your new Sunday night period drama must-watch

Megan Sutton
Photo credit: BBC

From Good Housekeeping

We love nothing more than a good BBC One Sunday night period drama, and happily, there's a new one coming to screens very soon.

The Beeb is bringing an adaptation of Eleanor Catton's prize-winning novel The Luminaries to TV, and it looks set to be a must-watch.

Catton serves as Writer, Creator and Executive Producer on the adaptation, which is described as "an epic adventure mystery" and stars the likes of Eva Green (Casino Royale) and Himesh Patel (Yesterday).

Sounds up your street? Here's everything you need to know...

The Luminaries: What's it about?

The BBC describes the story as "an epic adventure mystery based on the Man Booker prize-winning novel of the same name. Set on the wild West coast of New Zealand’s South Island at the height of the 1860s gold rush, The Luminaries tells an intricately woven, suspenseful tale of love, murder, magic, and revenge."

Speaking about what attracted him to the drama, Himesh Patel added:

"The breadth of the story in terms of the characters that hail from all over the world. In telling a story of New Zealand, and the history of New Zealand, it tells a story of other parts of the world, because people came to New Zealand from across the globe. There is also a slight element of fantasy. It’s a very interesting mix of things."

Photo credit: BBC

The story begins in 1865. Anna Wetherell (Eve Hewson) has travelled to New Zealand to forge a new life. On the last day of her voyage, a romantic first encounter with the radiant Englishman Emery Staines (Himesh Patel) fills her with great expectations for what lies ahead. But the scheming fortune-teller Lydia Wells (Eva Green) has other ideas for Anna, and lays a trap to ensure that the planned rendezvous between the young lovers never takes place.

"Lydia Wells is an American who runs a fortune parlour in New Zealand during the gold rush, and she’s a survivor. She’s a natural entrepreneur. She’s very strong, very sharp, and she’s figured out that the only way to make money in those days was to make money in town," Eva Green said of her character.

Photo credit: BBC

Deceived, swindled, and betrayed, Anna’s fortunes begin to fall. She is drawn into an elaborate plot of blackmail, involving opium, gold, shipwreck, fraud, and false identity, which ultimately finds her framed for murder and fighting for her life.

But the bond between these star-crossed lovers is more than mere affinity. Anna and Emery are what is known as ‘astral twins’: they were born at the very same instant, and under the very same sky, which means that they share a single destiny.

When Emery vanishes without a trace, leaving Anna without an alibi for a murder she did not commit, the noose of the plot begins to tighten around her. Faced with the impossible, she must ask: do we make our fortunes, or does fortune make us?

Photo credit: BBC

Anna is a character shrouded in mystery, as Eve Hewson explained.

"Anna Wetherell is a mysterious character who you meet as she arrives in New Zealand during the gold rush. You don’t really know anything about her, and you never really find out her history or why she chose to travel to New Zealand or what she’s possibly running from. She meets Emery, gets off the ship and then all hell breaks loose," she said.

Also in the cast is Ewen Leslie, who plays Lydia's husband, Crosbie Wells.

"Crosbie Wells is a really fun character to play. He is a mass of contradictions. He longs to find his place in the world and has always wanted to meet his father," Ewen said.

"He has an enormous heart and there is this child-like innocence to him. He is someone that you can feel very safe with, but in an instant, be very scared of. He is very sensitive but can be ferocious."

Photo credit: BBC

The Luminaries: When's it on TV?

The series begins on Sunday 21 June at 9pm on BBC One. Episode two will air on Monday 22 June at 9pm with following episodes airing on Sundays.

In the meantime, here's the trailer...

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