Have you been thinking about the past series of Being Human? Remembering the Bristol locations, checking back on the hints and plot points that brought us to where we are now? Looking for that perfect quote that’s just on the tip of your tongue?
What you need is a book!
A guide to being human [series 1-3] covers all that and more – reviews of every episode, including the pilot as well as information about the characters, the actors and the online content. It’s written by someone who loves the show, someone who is just like you – a huge fan of Being Human.
Would I recommend it? Well yes, I wrote it!
It’s available direct from the publishers Classic TV Press here and is also on Kindle from Amazon. If you order from Classic TV Press and would like your copy signed please ask when you order and I’d be very happy to. (It’s OK – you don’t have to…)
Here’s a taster from the chapter location, location, location… This section is all about the Pink House…
Bristol was chosen as the location of Being Human for a number of reasons. Firstly the show is made by BBC Wales, which necessarily limited the choice to cities in a particular geographical area. Secondly, Bristol has the wealth of architecture and settings that fitted the feel of the show perfectly, with the slave trade angle being picked up by Declan O’Dwyer, the director of the pilot. It seemed a sensible assumption that vampires could have used the slave trade to get into the country and to establish a significant base in Bristol, which continued until Herrick and Mitchell’s day. Mitchell tells Seth about the first vampire to live openly in Bristol – Richard Turner in 1630: “The first to have a double life. He ran for Parliament, was a slave trader, killed maybe, I don’t know, a thousand people.”
Totterdown, a suburb of Bristol, is where you can find the Being Human house and many of the exterior locations used in series one and two. It’s a distinctive area of tightly packed steep roads with classic Victorian terraces, rather less classically painted in an array of colours, giving a slightly seaside air. Vale Street is reputed to be the steepest residential street in England.
Totterdown grew rapidly in the late nineteenth century and was mainly built to house the workers from the nearby Temple Meads railway station and other central Bristol industries. It was mainly a working-class area serving local industry, but is now a popular choice for younger people working in the city centre. It is perfectly in context as the place where George and Mitchell would take up residence.
1 Windsor Terrace
The house where our supernatural trio take up residence is easy to recognise. It’s a corner house at the apex of two Victorian terraces, it’s pink and the name of the road is clearly visible high on the wall. The house began life with another identity – it started out as retail premises, like many other corner houses in the area. Visible and easy to find – they are their own perfect advertising. Also very appropriate for our trio, none of whom are living out the identities they were born with. It is thought that the house was a pub due to the engraved window to the side of the front door advertising wines and spirits (George and Annie?!), but it would probably have been a general store – grocery, maybe a butcher’s and, of course, an off-licence. In the opaque glass over the front door is etched ‘Corner House’ – nothing like pointing out the obvious!
The houses of Totterdown, like our trio’s house, show signs of decay, of water damage and staining. Some have already been beautifully refurbished and some are yet to be loved. If you want to hide but still participate, keep separate but blend in, then what better place than a pink house on a corner – neither flashy nor derelict, and just quirky enough.
In her article Ghostly Architecture on BDOnline.co.uk in March 2009, Denna Jones considered the colour of the house: “The precise shade of pink is unknown, but ‘P-618’ aka ‘Baker-Miller Pink’ is a suitable candidate. Used in correctional facilities and drunk tanks, it works physiologically to reduce aggression. Think of it as Totterdown’s passive community assistance to rein in the anti-social proclivities of the dead, the undead and hirsute half-humans.” Although, judging from Mitchell’s behaviour at the end of series two, he seems to have managed to override all the soothing effects of that very special pink. It didn’t do much to calm the wolf at the start of series one either… Maybe they should have painted the inside completely pink too.
The interiors of the house are filmed in specially built sets, designed to resemble the actual interior of the house. It’s not an exact copy – HD cameras need space and the crews need room to move around. It’s also far more controllable and adaptable an environment to work in. The interiors are put together with incredible attention to detail and it feels as if it really was furnished and lived in by George, Mitchell and Annie and their very different personalities.
In the pilot, the estate agent tells Mitchell that the house had been a sculptor’s studio before being bought by Annie and Owen to refurbish. Inevitably it didn’t ever get finished as Owen murdered Annie and then rented out the scene of the crime…
The house has clearly evolved – design is not how this interior came together! There is 1970s wallpaper in the kitchen and I bet it is that plastic-y stuff that was just so cool and trendy back then. There are changes of colour and pattern and the classic black and white tiles of the hall floor bisect the wooden floorboards of the downstairs rooms. Plus, of course, the cracked tile – an ever-present reminder of where Annie fell and died.
After the first episode, when George transformed in the house, there are deep werewolf scratches visible on the walls and the rooms are left empty. The werewolf shredded the furniture and destroyed everything else and they are left with the need for a trip to IKEA – Mitchell’s all-time favourite. After that the downstairs rooms gradually develop and fill up with the eclectic clutter than makes it all feel very real (and I doubt any of it is from that well-known Swedish emporium!). There are books, magazines, videos, tapes and an increasing collage of flyers on the wall by the door. The kitchen is full of crockery, cereal and even a pair of fighting grannies! There are lamps everywhere and plenty of comfy seating, although every time there is a crisis they all revert to sitting on the floor. There are also stacks of board games, and in the Being Human book The Road we are told that these are mostly Mitchell’s and that Waddington’s The Vampire Game is a particular favourite!
Andrew Purcell, the Set Designer, pointed out that Mitchell’s room is coffin shaped – a lovely touch and I’m sure it helps him sleep much more soundly. There are decent-sized windows, but whenever Mitchell is there the blinds are always down; a sunny aspect is not a vampire’s favourite. It has to be said though that the main factor defining Mitchell’s space is mess! It looks rather like the habitation of a teenage boy or domestically challenged student. Is this really Mitchell or just the role he is playing at the moment? Looking closer there are clues that this is probably not just any 20-something’s lair. It is full of odd vintage items – vinyl singles and albums and an old record player (yes, that’s what we had before HiFi, CDs and MP3); there are old film posters and quite an array of musical instruments. Amongst the encroaching tide of clothes, odd shoes (very odd shoes) and old singles are a guitar, a saxophone and a squeezebox… and can he play any of them we wonder?! Presumably 116 years give you plenty of time to take lessons and fit in some practice…
Annie doesn’t have a bed – ghosts don’t sleep – or much in the way of storage – ghosts cannot change their clothes. There is so little in her room it seems to emphasise just how thoroughly Owen excised her from his life – no sign of her is left in their home. She has an oversized comfy armchair and on the mantelpiece is a picture of Loveheart sweets – an image that somehow seems to sum up Annie’s sunny, affectionate personality. Annie’s room is an old-fashioned pink, a dusty greyish pink, a lovely contrast to her grey layers and a colour that is soft and gentle – much like Annie.
In series two, George swaps rooms with Annie so he can fit in his cage. He moves in his bed and soundproofs the walls. We never see what Annie does to George’s old room though. I hope she kept the gnomes.
I suspect that when they first moved in, George and Mitchell tossed a coin and Mitchell won, whether by fair means or foul. That left George with the smallest room. It was a child’s room at some point in the past and has wonderful vintage wallpaper featuring cute happy gnomes. The whimsical pictures couldn’t be a better contrast with the savagery of the werewolf. Putting George in the smallest space seems appropriate – while he is the tallest of the trio he compresses his essential self to avoid attention and it is only the wolf that gets the freedom that George has lost. The restrictions of the space seem somehow very apt.
He is considerably tidier than Mitchell (not difficult) and I can imagine he probably has a colour-coordinated sock drawer. There are some other neat contrasts – George’s sleek DAB radio versus Mitchell’s rather chunkier transistor radio.
Want to read more?
Was B Edwards, funeral parlour of choice for vampires, ever the real thing? Do you wonder where the pubs are that are featured in the show? What about the hospital? The Facility? What about the Barry locations?
They – and more – are all in the book!