Toby Whithouse said very early on that he chose the supernatural attributes of his Being Human world according to “what made the best story.” And quite right too! For the vampires that means no reflections in mirrors, no appearing on photos or film but visible in shiny surfaces; daylight is fine but a bit too bright and not being able to cross the threshold of a human home unless invited in. (Unless it’s a flat in a block when you’re already in the building.) (Or it’s a caravan.) (Or you are Wyndam.)
Oh and there’s the religious objects stuff, they cause pain and repel vamps unless (of course there’s an exception) it’s with someone they have an emotional connection to. That’s why Mitchell can hold George’s Star of David but it hurts Seth and Herrick. Presumably that meant Mitchell felt a substantial emotional stirring for Lucy (insert your own pun here) as she bedded him or he bedded her amongst a pretty wide array of religious paraphernalia with few apparent side effects on his health or *ahem* performance. Surely most vampires would open an eye when poked in the chest with a bit of church pew? Anyway, I digress…
I think there is another facet of TW’s vampires that has never been explicitly explored in the series or – as far as I can find – by the man himself. It seems to me that some essential part of the person they once were stays with the vampire, there are always echoes of their origins and the era and circumstances at the time they were made. That sounds a bit woolly so here are some examples from the first three series that illustrate my point (I will, of course, be leaving aside any that contradict me!)
Mitchell, created during the Great War, seems perfectly at home in the pink house and working in the hospital, wearing his skinny jeans and leather jackets, although judging by the ‘tribes’ sequence in S1E4 some fashions have suited him better than others! Vampire Mitchell was born in battle and when he’s left with nothing to fight he seems colourless and passive – George’s cruel description of “deadly furniture” is actually quite apposite. He betrays his age in small ways – he carries a real handkerchief, believes in community and tea with the neighbours and in his almost fatherly attitude to the very much younger Annie and George. He gave his life to Herrick to save his men and his zeal to protect and save continues – not just his housemates but when he tries his Ivan/Advocaat-inspired AA – or technically BA – to protect and clean up the Bristol vampires.
Whatever he did he couldn’t leave himself behind. It was impossible for Mitchell to find a peaceful human existence before he was created a vampire. He was suffering through the war to end all wars, a nightmare of death and mud, and normal life, human life, would have been an impossible dream. It remained an impossible dream for the vampire as well. The desire to fight, to have a true and just cause coloured Mitchell’s decisions right up until the point when he stopped fighting.
Daisy was also made in war, the Second World War, when Ivan found her alone and scared in an air raid shelter. In contrast to Mitchell her life wasn’t a battle but was characterised by restrictions and deprivations, loneliness, a new baby she didn’t quite believe was hers and the fading of all her hopes and dreams. She wanted to get away from her drab existence and have fun and wanted to follow Ivan despite her terror of the bombs outside. He promised her an escape: travel, sex and that he would make her indestructible and vampire Daisy spent her time fearlessly enjoying herself, Ivan at her side.
Ivan, Daisy’s husband, a much older vampire who was created in the 1770s, the era when all well-heeled gentlemen took the grand tour. And surely that is exactly what Ivan continued to do but instead of art and music his grand tour was of blood and death, torture and misery.
Adam probably got the worse deal of the lot – perennially adolescent, greasy haired and spotty, not to mention permanently frustrated… He could have adapted, his cultural references were totally mired in the 80s (although that isn’t always the sign of a vampire…) but maybe he didn’t want to grow up. He didn’t know any other vampires so he had no one to learn from so maybe that makes his the perfect example. As well as his vampire nature his parents sheltered him and he had no real need to adapt and develop and could stay exactly as he was made. Now he’s had to cope alone for a while perhaps he’s changed. We’ll see, but somehow I doubt he’s going to be much different. Bit of fang anyone?
Herrick’s origins were shrouded in mystery until a little candlelight was shed by Sarah Phelps’ unfilmed prequel which was posted on the BH WebPages here. We found out that he was always evil, hungry for power, knowing he deserved so much more than he had and willing to do whatever it took to get it. No change there then! He ran the Bristol vampires rather like a paternal Victorian business and he was always, indisputably, in charge. His relationship with Seth was particularly Dickensian. It’s an interesting comparison that in 1890 Herrick was an outwardly respectable legal clerk with what seemed to be a pretty good understanding of the seamy underworld of vice and in Bristol he combined the respectable police service with underlying desires to kill and kill and kill. Blood instead of sex but so very similar.
After Herrick’s untimely dismemberment and resurrection he lost his memory (or did he?) and it seemed he reverted back to the time he was changed. We saw him in his straitjacket calling for a carriage and even when he was more calmly ensconced in the attic his speech patterns were different, more formal, more Victorian. Once he returned to himself, to the insanely cheerful evil we all know and love (well, that I do anyway!), he also returned to his more modern accent although still not using one word when several sentences would do instead…
It’s hard to consider the theory for those vampires whose origins we don’t know – Seth is pretty old, he was with Herrick in WW1, but – apart from him being an idiot – we don’t know any more about him. Vincent, Graham, Richard and Emma – all unknown quantities, so they must prove my point. That’s my argument and I’m sticking to it! I’m looking forward to testing this out with S4’s new vamps – 500 year old Hal and the so-far-so-mysterious Cutler.
Wherever or whenever their origins, vampires can still learn and develop and – should they choose to do so – fit in with the world as it changes round them. Maybe it’s those who are the most successful at combining this necessary adaptation with their true self that survive. Mitchell did well, with Herrick’s help until Lucy and Kemp pushed him out of his carefully hoarded human camouflage. Once he’d let his true nature out in plain view with his vampire version of meals on wheels then his world started to crumble and whatever he did he coud never regain his cover without being shipped off to Bolivia. Herrick’s premature demise (second time around) was also a consequence of Mitchell’s failure to stay unnoticed, without Mitchell’s case of terminal regret he probably would be running the world from Wooton-under-Edge by now! Herrick had always blended in seamlessly from his immaculate 1930s tails, through the brocades and sharp suits of the 1960s to thoroughly modern constable and through it all he was always Herrick, evil and ambitious. That was one of the reasons he was so very scary – he belonged.
You really would have asked that particular policeman the time!
Tick tock, tick tock…