The BBC talk a very good game about Being Human – after series three ended with an average of 1.4 million views per episode (pretty damn good for a cult BBC Three show) Harry Lansdown, Acting Controller of BBC Three, said:
“Being Human’s brilliant mixture of fantasy and everyday life continues to provide must-see, ground breaking drama for BBC Three, and I’m delighted to announce a fourth series for 2012.”
Touchpaper Television who make Being Human were equally effusive and Rob Pursey, Executive Producer, said: “Being Human feels like it’s taken on a life of its own now, and we are delighted. I’ve never known a drama develop such a strong relationship with its audience. We’re very excited to be making a fourth series.”
Now that all sounds great doesn’t it?
We all know the BBC is having a rough ride lately and in all honestly I can understand that they are having to cut back. While I do understand I don’t agree and there’s a very good piece by Polly Toynbee here about how things could be different and she says it way better than I could dream of doing.
In Being Human world we’re lucky to still have our webpages, which are currently being revamped into the standard BBC format and the blog continues on even with little new information to discuss. There wasn’t even an Xmas Broadcast from TW this year… Has he lost his crown? Been trampled by a reindeer? Disappeared into his own beard? We need to know! I am sorry to see that all the series one clips – as well as some more recent ones – have stopped working/disappeared and I have asked a couple of times if that is permanent. Sadly there has been no reply, although I shouldn’t be surprised as it seems that official BBC Twitter accounts only retweet and respond to gushing praise. (Yes, I’m also looking at you @BBCStrictly.)
In the current climate the lack of updates is understandable and, if I’m honest, I’m surprised the blog and the webpages are still there at all! The show has been incredibly well served across the first three series with behind the scenes information and snippets and maybe we got – whisper – a tiny bit spoiled…
With such a cult success on their hands it strikes me as odd that the BBC haven’t exploited Being Human to the fullest extent. Just looking at series three there have been no BBC Three repeats after the main run until now – and showing it at 3am is not much better than ignoring it, even in these days of Sky+ and iPlayer. It’s even odder when you consider that BBC Three repeat EVERYTHING ad infinitum. I can’t imagine why BH3 didn’t get a late night showing on BBC2 – it’s certainly good enough and it would have grown the audience even further for the new series, which I thought was part of the point. After all the trailers for series three were all over BBC1 and BBC2 this time last year.
What the BBC did do is allow series one to be shown on Really TV, UKTV’s channel for female lifestyle programming – which makes it a perfect fit for the BBC Three commitment to original UK drama for 16-34 year olds! Of course, the BBC part own UKTV so it makes some sort of sense to decant BBC Three there but why oh why oh why were TPTB at Really TV allowed to hack it about seemingly at random with a butter knife. Yes, it had to be cut to make room for the adverts but putting a little thought into maintaining the story and character arcs and the sense of the show would have helped. Really TV’s slogan is “You couldn’t make it up“. You certainly couldn’t.
The BBC are pretty shrewd at merchandising – Doctor Who Christmas tree ornaments anyone? Only £30 (ouch…) Maybe they don’t have the rights to sell on the back of BH but it’s an opportunity missed. There are the three tie-in novels – slim, aimed at the young adult market and containing errors that set fans’ teeth on edge. There were placeholders for new books on Amazon (no titles or authors) but they seem to have disappeared. If they do produce more books I hope they’re a bit better than the last lot. No, that’s not true. I hope they’re a lot better. I could name a number of Being Human fanfiction writers who would do a fabulous job, after all that’s exactly what the novels are, fan fiction.
(I do have a vested interest here – my book a guide to being human [series 1-3] is out there and if the BBC had done it first I wouldn’t have been able to!)
I don’t see why there couldn’t be some jolly souvenirs – the prices paid for the Being Human Children in Need lots on eBay seem to indicate the demand is out there. Although how much of that was people wanting to do unspeakable things to Mitchell’s cast offs is something I have no need to think about! What about Annie teapots and mugs? Mitchell hair products? Floral/stripy Herrick styled pjs? The George special cage – spare bedroom sized? Even a bumper sized pot of moral rectitude with Nina’s picture on it…
Of course all the additional bits and bobs around a TV programme are treats not entitlements and certainly with the web presence, videos and blog, Being Human fans have done very well indeed. (I still want the Herrick pjs and the teapot though!) We really shouldn’t complain, the fact that it has all slowed down between series is a fact of life and funding, not a personal crusade to piss off the faithful. Well, at least I hope it isn’t!
Once the advertising starts I expect (demand even…) the BBC to do us proud. S3 was trailed extensively from 2 January until it began on 23 January 2012 and there was a significant presence in the printed press including a Radio Times cover, as well as online and on the BBC pages. I’m putting this in in the hope that as soon as I press post the campaign for S4 will begin! It does work like that doesn’t it…?
It’s just a little sad that the BBC doesn’t seem to have taken Being Human and really run with it. It’s a case of out of sight (or off-screen) and out of mind. Although, would we have liked it if they had really gone for it – exploited it until its fangs squeaked? A big giant success would be wonderful in many ways but in truth I quite like our cosy little fandom.