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Date: 23 April 2014

Today's Topic: Jamaica Inn (2014 TV series BBC)

Triggers: Frustration at sound level while watching the program

My Grump: Couldn't hear a blooming thing, the cast were mumbling

We love BEEB drama in our house. Ever since I watched them filming 'The Monocled Mutineer' in Somerton, Somerset, around the middle 1980's, when sawdust and mud was sprinkled over the yellow lines in the road to cover them up.

So we eagerly sat down at 9 on Mon 21 April to watch episode 1 of Jamaica Inn. Glass of wine in my hand, cup of tea in the wife's. That was when I realized the sound man had stayed at home to watch it too.

Sean Harris sounded like the microphone was in another room, and the rest of the cast weren't much better. So initially, up went the volume, as if that was going to compensate for the muffled sound and voices. Alas, the result of that was louder muffle and background noise, and little understanding of the dialogue.

That was when I suddenly remembered the remote had a button on it saying 'subtitles'. Normality was restored, except that now half the screen has writing all over it. Even when they're not saying anything because for some reason, I have to know if the 'trees are rustling', the 'horse whinnied', or someone 'farted'.

Oh well, it wasn't just me, here's what the BBC had to say:

Jamaica Inn: BBC receives more than 100 complaints over 'mumbling'
Viewers who tuned into the launch of Jamaica Inn were left frustrated after struggling to make out the dialogue in the BBC's new period drama. Viewers complained that they had to switch on the subtitles or turn up the volume to the maximum setting to understand what the cast was saying.

The Corporation says it will adjust sound levels for episode two after viewers said they couldn't understand what the cast was saying. A BBC spokeswoman said that the corporation, which received 107 complaints, was reviewing the episode following "issues with the sound levels".
The Cast of Jamaica Inn
Jamaica Inn is a British drama television series that was first broadcast on BBC One on 21 April 2014. The three-part series, written by Emma Frost, is an adaptation of Daphne du Maurier's gothic novel Jamaica Inn.

The Plot: Jamaica Inn is set in 1820. It tells the story of Mary Yellan (Jessica Brown Findlay) who lives with Aunt Patience (Joanne Whalley) after her mother died.

Mary finds Aunt Patience under the spell of her husband, Joss Merlyn (Sean Harris) after she arrives at Jamaica Inn. She soon realises that the inn has no guests and it is being used as the hub of Joss' 'free' trade.

Mary becomes attracted to Jem Merlyn (Matthew McNulty), Joss' younger brother who is a petty thief. Mary meets Francis Davey (Ben Daniels), the parish vicar, and his sister Hannah (Shirley Henderson).

Saw part 2 last night and it was much better (thank you BBC), but while we thoroughly enjoy your period drama's, I have to say, the drive for authenticity can often mean that actors and actresses are talking into their soup, and it seems that 'off camera', means 'off microphone' too, which means more and more of your productions are suffering from this type of sound problem. Just my 2p.

Please share your thoughts below about this drama or any other you have enjoyed, thank you.



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