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The Pursuit of Love becomes the latest BBC drama to be hit by sound complaints

The return of mumblegate: The Pursuit of Love becomes the latest BBC drama to be hit by complaints from viewers unable to make out ‘incomprehensible’ dialogue after backlash at Jamaica Inn and Happy Valley

  • The Pursuit of Love debuted on BBC One on Sunday night at 9pm at the weekend
  • But some viewers complained they were unable to hear parts of the dialogue 
  • One claimed he had worn out the remote control over the ‘extremes of sound’
  • It is the latest of a so-called ‘Mumblegate’ problem that have hit other shows
  • Do you struggle to hear The Pursuit of Love? E-mail: [email protected] 

Viewers of the BBC‘s latest Sunday night drama The Pursuit of Love have complained they could not understand some of the characters – five years after the Director General vowed to make sure all shows could be heard.

Some scenes featuring stars Lily James and Emily Beecham came in for criticism over the audio on the mini-series, which is directed by Emily Mortimer. 

One licence fee-payer said they had ‘worn out the remote control’ adjusting the volume to try and counteract the ‘extremes of sound’.

And another found it impossible to understand, bemoaning that they ‘Can’t hear a word’.

One viewer added to MailOnline: ‘So disappointed that the sound quality was so poor.

‘The production is so lavish, what a shame to miss chunks of dialogue.’ Another called it ‘Inaudible, breathless whispering’. 

It comes on the heels of complaints about the sound quality of other BBC shows, including Calderdale-based police drama Happy Valley, Jamaica Inn and War and Peace 

The BBC took so-called ‘Mumblegate’ so seriously in 2016 then BBC DG Tony Hall said ‘audibilty issues’ would be dealt with.

Stars Lily James and Emily Beecham were in scenes some viewers said they could not hear

Issues over the sound are the latest in a series of audio complaints nicknamed mumblegate

Issues over the sound are the latest in a series of audio complaints nicknamed mumblegate

The Pursuit of Love director Emily Mortimer on set filming the BBC drama behind the scenes

The Pursuit of Love director Emily Mortimer on set filming the BBC drama behind the scenes

He had identified the problem even earlier than that, declaring at 2013: ‘I don’t want to sound like a grumpy old man, but I also think muttering is something we could have a look at. Actors muttering can be testing – you find you have missed a line – you have to remember that you have an audience.’

The broadcaster confirmed they had received a handful of complaints but did not plan to alter the shows. 

Pursuit of Love attracted 5 million viewers and tells the story of romance in an upper class family.

Martin J Saxton said on Twitter: ‘I find the extremes of sound on ‘The Pursuit of Love’ excruciating: I’ve practically worn out the remote control.

‘Sound engineers, actors and director all to blame. It’s interesting in its own way, maybe not quite as funny as I’d like. And the hair design is abysmal.’

David Atkinson said: ‘Pursuit of Love. Can’t hear a word and no subtitles on BBC IPlayer after first episode 1. 

Martin Saxton said the 'extremes of sound' made Pursuit of Love excruciating to watch

Martin Saxton said the ‘extremes of sound’ made Pursuit of Love excruciating to watch

David Atkinson bemoaned not being able to 'hear a word' of the flagship BBC drama

David Atkinson bemoaned not being able to ‘hear a word’ of the flagship BBC drama

Tony Hall former Director General of the BBC had urged 'audibility issues' to be looked at

Tony Hall former Director General of the BBC had urged ‘audibility issues’ to be looked at

Among other complainers were Charles and Angela Cottrell-Dormer, who are the owners of Rousham House in Oxfordshire, which was used as a location for the drama.

Mr Cottrell-Dormer told The Telegraph: ‘Couldn’t understand a word they said. We must be too old.’

On social media, viewers expressed their frustration. ‘What’s the point of a drama where 70 per cent of the dialogue is incomprehensible,’ asked another.

Sound is not the only problem to have hit BBC dramas.

Last year it asked viewers to monitor the light around their TVs after complaints that hit shows like The Luminaries and Wolf Hall were too gloomy.

As part of a study, the broadcaster will question participants about the layout of their windows, sofa and screen in a bid to create the best lighting conditions.

Sarah Lancashire in Happy Valley, which had also been criticised over the level of sound

Sarah Lancashire in Happy Valley, which had also been criticised over the level of sound

Wolf Hall was accused of being too dark by some TV viewers but defended as 'atmospheric'

Wolf Hall was accused of being too dark by some TV viewers but defended as ‘atmospheric’

BBC show The Luminaries was ironically criticised over claims it was poorly lit in some scenes

BBC show The Luminaries was ironically criticised over claims it was poorly lit in some scenes

It follows armchair critics being left frustrated by dimly lit scenes in the BBC drama The Luminaries, with the director of Wolf Hall also defending the lighting in the show as ‘lovely and atmospheric’ after viewers claimed it was ‘too dark’.

Twitter users had reacted to the lighting in The Luminaries, with one tweeting: ‘Ironic it’s called #TheLuminaries when you can see b****r all because it’s always dark.’

Another added: ‘I was going to watch #TheLuminaries tonight but then my husband offered to lock me in the dark in the downstairs loo and mumble unintelligibly through the keyhole… so I chose that instead.’

MailOnline has contacted the BBC for comment, 

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