Entertainment & Arts

Quirke screenwriter admits using subtitles

Gabriel Byrne in Quirke
Image caption Gabriel Byrne stars in Quirke as a Dublin pathologist alongside Michael Gambon and Colin Murray

The writer of BBC drama Quirke has admitted to watching the series with subtitles on after his wife complained she could not hear the dialogue.

"I could hear it because I knew what the words were," Andrew Davies, best known for his hit adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, told RadioTimes.com.

But his wife, Diana, couldn't. "She said, 'Do you mind if we have the subtitles on?'"

The BBC received 243 complaints after the show's first episode on 25 May.

It comes a month after more than 2,000 viewers complained to the BBC over "mumbling actors" on Jamaica Inn.

"It's a funny thing, mumbling," Davies told Radio Times. "It's a bit to do with actors, a bit to do with modern, flat-screen televisions and both my wife and I are of an age where our hearing is beginning to go."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Andrew Davies adapted the original House of Cards, alongside Michael Dobbs

He added that there was "often a problem with the people in production" who already know the plot.

"When you know what the lines are, there's a tendency to think you've heard them alright," said Davies. "Whereas if you didn't know the thing, maybe you wouldn't."

Following the initial complaints, a spokeswoman for the BBC said: "A wide range of factors can influence audibility and we will continue to work with the industry on this important subject."

Based on the novels by Booker Prize-winning author John Banville, Quirke stars Gabriel Byrne in the title role as a Dublin pathologist.

The noir series, set in the 1950s, also stars Sir Michael Gambon, Geraldine Somerville and Colin Morgan.

A second series remains in the balance, said Davies.

"I hope it'll be on again. I'm not sure whether I'd be writing it. We'll have to see what happens."

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