Jamaica Inn concludes with nearly 2,200 complaints

Jessica Brown Findlay stars as Mary Yellan Jessica Brown Findlay stars as Mary Yellan

Jamaica Inn has come to an end with nearly 2,200 complaints. It also lost 2 million viewers between Easter Monday and the concluding episode on Wednesday.

The BBC One adaptation of Daphne du Maurier's gothic novel, which aired over three consecutive nights, started with an average audience of 6.1m viewers. This had dropped to 4.1m by Wednesday, according to overnight figures.

A total of 2,182 people have now complained to the BBC about the drama, mostly about not being able to understand the dialogue, but there were also some complaints that scenes were too dark and gloomy.

The complaints began after the first episode aired, with 117 people initially voicing dissatisfaction. This rose to nearly 800 after the second episode on Tuesday. But there were many more complaints after the three-part period drama concluded on Wednesday.

It has prompted controller of drama commissioning Ben Stephenson to admit that there was 'a problem', which he believed might have had something to do with the actors.

He said: 'Actors not being clear is obviously one part of it, but my understanding about the complaints about Jamaica Inn was more complex than that.

'I think it's probably not right to just single out that, but clearly we want actors to speak clearly. Of course we want them to give brilliant performances and you've got to respect that but if no one can understand what they're saying then there is a problem.'

'Dialogue levels'

The problem appears to have never been resolved after the first episode, despite assurances that the 'dialogue levels' would be turned up before subsequent instalments were aired.

'We are adjusting the dialogue levels in episode two and three to address audience concerns so they can enjoy the rest of the drama, and would like to apologise to those viewers who were affected,' said a BBC statement on Monday.

Emma Frost, who adapted the novel for television, took to Twitter to express frustration. The writer - who adapted The White Queen - told viewers to 'spare a thought' for one of the sound operators, Matt Gill, who was confused about what had gone wrong.

He tweeted: 'Do I dare watch episode 2?' He guessed that it was a 'transmission problem' because it sounded fine in previews and on iPlayer.

Speaking to Radio 5 live on Tuesday, director Philippa Lowthorpe - who has also directed Call the Midwife - said she was more 'sad' than angry that sound issues may have marred people's enjoyment of the drama.

It's not the first time there have been complaints about mumbling in dramas. Similar complaints were made about Birdsong and Parade's End. It led director general Tony Hall to raise the issue in the Radio Times last July.

'I don't want to sound like a grumpy old man, but I also think muttering is something we could have a look at,' he told the magazine.


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