The Luminaries to Light Up TVNZ 1 in May

Expect Eleanor Catton’s adaptation of her award-winning novel The Luminaries to premiere next month on TVNZ 1.

The TVNZ/BBC commission was pencilled in for April but, presumably because of scheduling issues in the UK, is now due to air in May.

No doubt it will air 8.30 Sundays on TVNZ 1, where the network’s been filling in time with murder mysteries McDonald and Dodds and next weekend’s Flesh and Blood.

BBC2 has yet to announce when it will launch the six-part historical drama but expect it to be mid-May.

Screen Daily has just published an early review, and it’s largely glowing.

The trade mag says Catton has boldly attacked her own work for this “lavishly-realised”  murder mystery with astrological elements from Working Title TV and Southern Light:

Catton has cut away at a plot which was already assembled like a jigsaw puzzle and worked on piecing it back together with series director/EP Claire McCarthy (2018’s Ophelia).

As a visual package, it sits well with The Piano and The Lord Of the Rings as the top three reasons to visit New Zealand the minute this global pandemic is over.

The Luminaries is sheer optical escapism, clad in period settings which, like the gold which drifts from the pink dress worn by its heroine (Eve Hewson) in the arresting opening episode, dazzle and seduce.

Once the dust has settled, however, Catton’s story can be harder to fall in love with than its alluring setting …

The narrative steps – a twisted timeline, the identification of the victim, the separation of the central lovers, the feint of supernatural elements  – are less compelling than McCarthy’s delivery of the Wild West of New Zealand of 150-odd years ago.

Catton told Variety she insisted on the series being shot in NZ because of its unique flora, fauna and quality of light.

“I think that if we’d shot the show anywhere else in the world the differences would have been palpable – it just wouldn’t have felt quite right.

“The much bigger reason, though, is that the West Coast is not just rich in gold; it is also the source of pounamu, or greenstone, which is central to Maori life both as a treasure and as a tool.

“Pounamu plays such an important part in the story of The Luminaries that it would have been disrespectful to shoot the show offshore.”

A broadcast premiere has yet to be disclosed but May 17 seems most likely.

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One Response to “The Luminaries to Light Up TVNZ 1 in May”

  1. I just watched episode one of the comedy show Superstore on Amazon Prime Video and had a good laugh. I think I will really love it, the characters are fun as well. Has anyone else watched it? It’s good to have 4 seasons 🙂

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