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The Luminaries
The Luminaries “A young woman seeking a new life
  panning for gold in New Zealand in 1865
  meets her soulmate on board ship on
  the way there; but, following interference
  from an older married female mystic
  who wants to use her as an apprentice,
  she finds herself lost to her love and
  abandoned and penniless as her life
  takes a downward spiral in the lavish
  period drama The Luminaries...”

ON BOARD SHIP ON HER WAY TO NEW ZEALAND to begin a new life and seek her fortune in the goldfields in 1865, young Anna Wetherell (the versatile Eve Hewson: The Knick; Robin Hood) meets her soul-mate, Hindu Emery Staines (an instantly-likeable Himesh Patel: Yesterday; Eastenders), and they have an immediate connection. At once their fates are intertwined.

Discovering that they were born on the same day and share a determination to seek their fortune, they spend time together and agree to meet in New Zealand, but Anna is illiterate and Emery, who believes only in good luck, writes down the name of his hotel so that Anna can show it to someone to ask the way.

A remarkable,
splendidly intriguing
period drama
with mystical overtones
and a magical
magnetism that
pervades throughout as
two fates collide...”
On disembarking, Anna has her handbag stolen and bumps into the mysterious Mrs Lydia Wells (a wonderfully scheming Eva Green: Penny Dreadful; Casino Royale), she wrongly believes by chance, who has retrieved her handbag minus her purse. Anna cannot pay for her board and lodgings and waits in vain at the wrong hotel for Emery before she realises she has no alternative other than to call on Lydia for help.

The controlling Lydia works as an astrologer and fortune-teller and runs a gambling house, The House of Many Wishes. Her husband Crosbie Wells (perfectly played by Ewen Leslie: The Nightingale; The Cry) is away working his claim for gold and Lydia invites Anna to stay as her apprentice. On hearing about Emery, Lydia says that people who are born on the same day, at the same time, are Astral Twins who share a destiny.

The drama begins nine months ahead, in 1866, with Anna, drugged and confused, running through woodland to a cabin where there is a dead body and she collapses. She is arrested on suspicion of murder, accused also of vagrancy, intoxication, and attempted suicide. The cruel George Shepard (Callan Mulvey: Avengers: Endgame; Zero Dark Thirty) is investigating the murder and dismisses Anna as a whore.

The action then switches back to nine months before, when Anna and Emery arrive in New Zealand and the scenes go backwards and forwards between 1865 and 1866 as the drama unfolds.

Emery has naïvely formed a partnership, registering the name Aurora, with Francis Carver (a believable Márton Csókás: Into The Badlands; Æon Flux). Unknown to Emery, Francis is a former convict but he is also Lydia's secret lover and is plotting with her to relieve her husband, who has returned with a fair amount of gold, of his strike.

While apart, Emery and Anna's lives continue to cross over in ways both unknown to them and also ways of which they are all too keenly aware. They share some of each others thoughts, feelings and experiences along with strange and unexplained happenings that are witnessed by others.

Anna is kind to opium war veteran Sook Yongsheng (the credible Yoson An: Mulan; Mortal Engines), who is seeking revenge for the killing of his family and who also meets Emery. On his way to the goldfields Emery befriends Maori greenstone-hunter Te Rau Tauwhare (the wonderful Richard Te Are: The Dead Lands; Danger Close), whose life also touches Anna's briefly.

Having left Lydia's home, Anna is existing by working as a prostitute and has become addicted to Opium, but tragedy awaits her and for a while it looks as though she has lost her mind.

Both Anna and Emery are trying to find each other, hindered by fate, magic and murder and the inevitable lust for gold that has its own consequences in this remarkable, splendidly intriguing period drama with mystical overtones and a magical magnetism that pervades throughout as two fates collide.

As Anna rejects Emery the two make the best of bad choices but will happiness continue to elude the lovers or will they find their way back to love? The wedge that Lydia has driven between them may have pushed them both too far but this begs the question, do we control our destiny or do fate and fortune control us?

The Luminaries talented cast also includes: Benedict Hardie as Alistair Lauderback; Erik Thomson as Dick Mannering; Paolo Rotondo as Aubert Gascoigne; Charlie Corrigan as Graves; Joel Tobeck as Benjamin Lowenthal; Matthew Arbuckle as Jock Smith; Jared Turner as Matterhorn Hotelier; and John Leigh as Majestic Hotelier.

Music is by David Long; Director of Photography is Denson Baker, ACS, NZCS; Written by Eleanor Catton, based on her Man Booker prize-winning novel; Produced by Lisa Chatfield; and Directed by Claire McCarthy.

* Following a run on BBC One, the notable six-part period drama The Luminaries arrives in the UK on DVD and Digital from Acorn Media International on 20 July 2020. Certificate: 12 | Running Time: 360 Minutes on Two Discs | Catalogue Number: AV3590 | RRP: £24.99. Extras Six Behind The Scenes Featurettes: Fingerprint | The Place You Return | Leverage | The Other Half | Paradox | The Old Moon in the Young Moon's Arms.

"The Luminaries… [a] remarkable, splendidly intriguing period drama with mystical overtones and a magical magnetism that pervades throughout as two fates collide" **** Maggie Woods, MotorBar

"Visual opulence, thwarted romance and layers of cliffhanging mystery… a sultry, escapist summer hit" **** The Guardian

"Crackling with intrigue and enigma… very absorbing" **** Metro

"Richly woven, lavishly detailed… a stellar cast… out of this world" Tatler

"Lavish… intriguing… Sunday night period drama hit" **** Heat