The Luminaries.

The Luminaries: everything you need to know about the newest book-to-TV adaptation

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Watch the trailer for The Luminaries, which is hitting our screens later this month.

It’s already been quite the year for book adaptations on the small screen. BBC Three’s accurate retelling of Sally Rooney’s Normal People has been a lockdown TV hit. Malorie Blackman’s Noughts & Crosses was finally brought to life on our screens. And His Dark Materials fans are already counting down to the second series of Phillip Pullman’s classic, following the success of the first. We’ve also been treated to the news that Exciting Times, the debut from Irish author Naoise Dolan, will also be getting the TV treatment. 

But, for now, it’s all about The Luminaries. 

What is The Luminaries about?

The BBC adaptation of The Luminaries is based on Eleanor Catton’s 2013 Man Booker Prize-winning novel. 

According to the official synopsis, “The Luminaries tells an epic story of love, murder and revenge, as men and women travelled across the world to make their fortunes. It is a 19th century tale of adventure and mystery, set on the Wild West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island in the boom years of the 1860s gold rush.

“The story follows defiant young adventurer Anna Wetherell, who has sailed from Britain to New Zealand to begin a new life. There she meets the radiant Emery Staines, an encounter that triggers a strange kind of magic that neither can explain. As they fall in love, driven together and apart by fateful coincidence, these star-crossed lovers begin to wonder: do we make our fortunes, or do our fortunes make us?”

The Luminaries
The Luminaries: Eva Green as Lydia and Eve Hewson as Anna.

Who stars in The Luminaries?

Eve Hewson (Bridge of Spies, Robin Hood) plays adventurer Anna Wetherell, opposite Himesh Patel (Yesterday, EastEnders) as Emery Staines. Casino Royale and Penny Dreadful star Eva Green plays the ruthless brothel madam Lydia Wells, while The Cry actor Ewen Leslie stars as Crosbie Wells and New Zealand actor Marton Csokas plays Francis Carver.

Watch the trailer for The Luminaries

You don’t need to have read the book to understand we’re about to go on an epic journey with this one. The series clearly makes the most of the beautiful New Zealand backdrop, and Green’s narration suggests a storyline with plenty of twists and turns along the way.

When will The Luminaries be aired?

The Starz Play production of The Luminaries will begin on Sunday 21 June at 9pm on BBC One. Episode two will follow on Monday 22 June at 9pm, and the six-part series will continue on Sunday nights thereafter. In addition, the full series will be made available on BBC iPlayer immediately after the first episode airs.

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Images: Starz Play, BBC

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Hollie Richardson

Hollie is a digital writer at, mainly covering the daily news on women’s issues, politics, celebrities and entertainment. She also keeps an ear out for the best podcast episodes to share with readers. Oh, and don’t even get her started on Outlander…