Hang on a minute while I pull off the dust sheets and run around with the vacuum. Open the windows will you? Give the blog a bit of a blow through.
I can’t quite bring myself to close this blog permanently although I don’t feel the need to write about Being Human that often nowadays. I’m quite sure that occasionally there will be thoughts and this is a good outlet as I can’t see anyone rolling their eyes at me!
Today I do have thoughts as it’s six years ago today when the first episode of the first series was aired on BBCThree. It was a Sunday, a fairly mild day for winter, a bit damp and the day before the new moon.
Here’s a thing. Can we really look back at that first episode and see it as we did then?
“Maybe… we find each other”
George and Annie making tentative steps towards friendship, picking their way through the mugs of cold tea?
Mitchell coping – sort of – not really – with the help of pizza and cereal?
“…and she was mine”
Owen the grieving finance – it all sounded so innocent and so touching then.
“You’re a shark – be a shark”
Herrick, tidying up after Mitchell, charming Cara (or canteen girl as she was known then) and generally talking a reasonable amount of sense.
“A-positive? A bit Jacob’s Creek-y for me”
Ah Seth, bless his dim little cotton socks. He changed the wine choices of a fandom!
Lost, vengeful, confused Lauren.
“OK, I’m new to this, but aren’t you suppose to weep or scream or wee yourself?”
Of course we can’t see it new now. Everything – the house, the people, the passing strangers, it’s all coloured by what we know is still to come. We know their ends so we can’t help seeing the path and we – or maybe just me – still wishes they applied a little more common sense from time to time. Yes Mitchell, that means you!
Nowadays I think more about what Being Human brought with it. For me as well as being one of my favourite TV series it gave me opportunity – there are two books out there with my name on and I still write. Will I write another TV book? Maybe but it’s hard to find anything I want to watch as often and in as much detail as I did BH. I wore out a set of S1-3 DVDs!
But most importantly the Being Human fandom brought people – groups of friends that go far beyond the influence of a TV show. Transatlantic, cross European meet ups. Theatre trips. Excursions to the cold, wet yet scenic glories of Barry Island. Bristol BH pub crawls. Knicker-wetting laughter. Mutual support and encouragement. Captain Fringe. General insanity. Panda sex. A quote for every occasion. A full on gospel chorus every time someone goes to IKEA…
(Insert obligatory exclamations about where did the time go etc. etc.)
Another new year but this year is different to the five before it in that there will be no new series of Being Human to look forward to.
The fanbase is still there, still strong, still obsessed faithful! Probably still arguing over who was Mitchell’s true love (Josie), had Herrick really lost his memory (no, well, sort of), were they really human (No!) (NO!) and exactly how old was Ivan?! The answer to that one is: it depends… If you believe series two he’s 237 but if you believe Toby – and why wouldn’t we* – he’s over 400 as he said here.
* He has been known to be a touch misleading…
There is still tutting over toxic werewolf blood, summoning/banishing/imprisoning/whatever the devil rituals, off stage deaths (Oh, Pineapples…) and whatever happened to Arthur the archivist? (OK, maybe that one’s just me.) There are still damp gussets galore over Mitchell and Hal… although not mine. That won’t surprise you much but to be honest I’ll keep the state of my gusset to myself thanks.
If none of the above makes sense to you – welcome! Now go back and catch up. I’ll wait.
People are still visiting this little blog – for which I am very grateful and always slightly surprised – but now Being Human is over there won’t be regular updates. However – if, or more likely when, something occurs to me (which I’m pretty sure it will) I’ll still post. If you’re interested do follow and you’ll get a notification as and when there’s anything new. (Sales pitch over – as you were.)
In fact to whet your appetite there is a new post brewing at the moment – I’ve been thinking about the Being Human humans…
Watch this space.
Not literally. You can go and sit down somewhere comfy.
I’ve chosen my favourite episode from each series and now I have to pick my favourite out of those five. And no, I can’t change my mind about them now. Not even if I ask myself very nicely.
Of course there are so many scenes and characters and sub-plots that I’ve had to leave out and what might be good would be to put together my favourite episode that never was, made up of all the very best bits. Except it would make no sense at all and be several hours long. In that light it’s not such a great idea, so let’s junk Plan B and go back to where I started.
Where was I?
In case you’ve forgotten – and frankly, I need a reminder myself – here are the runners and riders – linked to the posts where I kind of/sort of justified the choices.
Should I do reverse order? Yes? Oh all right then! Anything to make life harder… Although I’ve already thought of a snag. These are my favourite episodes from each series so although I’m going to put The Last Broadcast in fifth place it wouldn’t come fifth if I chose my over all, anything goes top five. Are you with me? No, me neither but having done the excuses lets move on with the announcement of the favourite episode out of the five I chose, one from each series, not the overall top five episodes winners and losers. Or something something something…
Although the winner would have still won however I worked it out. Clever that…In case you missed it in the excitement, fifth is 5.06 The Last Broadcast.
Equal third (yes I can have a tie) are 1.06 Bad Moon Rising and 2.05 Through the Looking Glass.
Second and the proud recipient of a rather lovely satin sash and a small tiara – 4.07 Making History. I’d give the sash to Cutler but I’m not at all convinced he’d wear it. The tiara however…
This episode edged out The Looking Glass because of The Looking Glass. Both flashback heavy, cutting back and forth, old loves and new ones – OK that’s possibly stretching it a bit but wait! Making History took that premise and built on it and they built good! Yes Cutler is my second favourite character and I do love a man who can dig a decent grave but the whole episode had a depth and quality of image and setting that made it distinct in the whole series. Sharp colour in the present day, unremitting grey in the future and warm sepia tones in the 1950’s giving a glow of nostalgia to what was a particularly twisted relationship. In fact I think Cutler/Hal beats the tied-to-a-bookcase courtship of Josie and Mitchell into a cocked trilby! The locations were also perfectly chosen, ending in the glacial white night club, the complete opposite to a classic gothic horror cellar. And that cellar, practical and prosaic, not a scrap of gothic just a rather useful cage of fresh mixers perfect for draining a fresh corpse…
I like it. A lot.
And first? Which gets the bouquet of roses, shiny shiny sash and the big crown? Frankly if you’re asking that you haven’t been paying attention!
It really isn’t a hard choice to make. There is one episode that for me sums up everything that is wonderful about Being Human – the writing, the characters, the setting. It’s an hour of television that stands up to almost anything you care to put against it.
3.05 The Longest Day – written by Sarah Phelps, directed by Philip Johns.
Yes, it’s a Herrick centred episode. Are you surprised? Really?
It’s not just about Herrick though, Wendy, the community psychiatric nurse was one of the most fully realised one episode guests ever. She wasn’t supernatural and she wasn’t outright funny nor was she tragic but somehow Sarah Phelps and Nicola Walker made her all that and more. I read that the part was written especially for Nicola and it fitted her like a bespoke gown – paired with some eminently sensible shoes.
It’s hard to pin down exactly what made Wendy wonderful. Obviously the combination of great writing and great performance but I think it was the tiny details and the almost throwaway lines. “Tena Lady moment!”, the sandwich in the laptop, the way she presented her ID badge, “My mother would love you!” and the phone call on the loo. The actual loo. It all added up to something rather special in the most perfectly understated way. In fact that’s probably the key to the episode – dark and twisted events, dark and twisted people, but perfectly, totally believable. Unusually for me I didn’t question a single motive in the whole hour! Not even Nina’s!
This was Herrick’s return – we last saw him muddy and in the all together (bar some strategically clinging compost) in a snowy field someone unspecified as Cara and Daisy bled all over his uneasy resting place. Since then he’s rediscovered his voice, found a suit but not his memory and finally given ever-loving Cara the slip.
It’s an immaculate performance from Jason Watkins (more so after his bath) and even now after many watches I’m still not sure if Herrick was faking it or not. Mostly I think he was but maybe not from the beginning and to be honest I’m not really convinced either way! There were so many nuances to what he did throughout the episode, the terror in the hospital and the confusion in Honolulu Heights, his total blanking of Mitchell. Do we believe his horror when he realises he had no reflection or the way he clinically disposes of Cara. She’s outlived her usefulness now hasn’t she? Or was he really sacred of what she wanted with him? But then there’s the way he draws in George, kind words and congratulations – what he might have expected from Mitchell but didn’t get, his friend being to enmeshed in his own downfall to care enough. Counter that with the way he speaks to Annie and that terribly knowing smile when she leaves him alone in the attic. And the train set. And the Victor. I could go on!
One very striking part of The Longest Day was the strength of writing for the female cast. Obviously Wendy was a new character but Sarah Phelps brought something new to all of them. Cara became a fully realised person – not the slightly simple canteen worker or the killing crazed mad-vamp of series two. She finally showed who she was and her determination to care for her Dark Lord, even to the extent of following him to the enemy camp was touching. When he was so finally nasty to her it broke her heart – and mine too, just a little bit. “Well then. You are nothing.” Could he have said anything any crueller?
Nina’s black and white morality showed a few tinges of grey and her insistence of nurturing the confused, amnesic Uncle Billy despite the horrors it was bound to bring showed a strength she was going to need. She’d never trusted Mitchell but this episode showed her his true colours and the realisation of what he really was literally turned her stomach. Her call to the hotline (and I’m still convinced that was Lia’s voice) was the final piece removed from the Honolulu House Jenga – it’s all about to topple.
Annie also found strength that had nothing to do with bringing the house down around their ears. Her journey through the episode from ditzy Annie, poring over Nina’s scan and cooking celebratory Eton Mess through to the guts to challenge Herrick and to deal with Mitchell’s vileness and rejection. To me it was clear she disapproved of Nina’s treatment of Wendy and her frustration at not being able to do more to comfort her than move the tissues into reach was palpable. And nicely balanced with her disgust at the state of her car!
George was – mostly – the voice of reason, once he’d got over the understandable shock of seeing the man he’d torn to pieces crawling about in front of him. Mitchell was the voice of – well, it tempting to say madness. It’s the point at which his downwards trajectory really start to pick up speed and his instinctive reaction to stake Herrick is curious. Was it a natural abhorrence for something he thought could never happen, Herrick resurrected? Had he been relishing his freedom from Herrick’s web just a little too much? George started to side with his friend but Nina made him see he was acceding to murder and it was almost enough to tun him against Mitchell. Or would he really have cast him out? If he’d know just what was due to happen next he may have done. Having Herrick ensconced in the attic started a chain of decisions that were downright idiotic, even by Mitchell’s standards! He put them all at risk, that bumbling confused man in the pjs – and then he sat back and let them tighten their own nooses. A string of coincidence or pure evil? Well, what do you think?!
If I wish for one thing, if I could time travel back I’d have liked Sarah Phelps to have written more for Being Human. The episode that springs to mind is 4.06 Puppy Love – I’d love to have seen what she could have done with Cutler and I just know she’d have made characters like Golda and Allison more rounded. Oh well. It was not to be.
I’ve probably said all this before – and probably will again but even beyond Being Human this is a very special hour of television. I reviewed it here when it first came out and then went back over it in more detail when I wrote my book A Guide to Being Human but even after all that watching which left it engraved in my brain forever I can still watch it and see something new or something that makes me go “Ahhh…” or even “Oh!” (and occasionally “WTF??!”)
Oh! And final thought – the brilliant Bazza and his undoubted diagnostic expertise in all matters psychological. “Doo-twatting-lally.” Nail on the head there mate!
Series three Another eight episodes. In Wales. To be precise in Barry Island… Pretty much everything has changed – George and Nina are almost, sort of a proper couple, albeit with occasionally – let’s say robust – nocturnal activities, Annie’s been to purgatory and back and Mitchell? Ah yes Mitchell. The Box Tunnel massacre has left him with nowhere to go and it overshadows the whole series. This is Mitchell’s decline and fall. Not to mention that Peter Jackson was murmuring seductively from the sidelines while waving a pointy hat and furry boots at Aidan Turner!
This is probably the darkest of all five series and I have to say I think it suffers slightly from being so totally focussed on Mitchell’s plight and his ongoing attempts to paint himself into a smaller and smaller corner. Despite that it still has good stories for George and Nina and some great guest characters – and Annie was there too, suffering from lack of plot syndrome. Again. Such a shame and such a waste as when she got the chance to shine she probably shone brighter than any of them.
It’s another series when I know which is my favourite straight away – it’s an instinctive answer although there is much that is good about them all.
In episode one Annie was in purgatory, George was in a quandary, Nina was in Ann Summers and Mitchell was in the clutches of perky Mary Poppins-esque Lia. Lacey Turner’s Lia was wonderful – flirty and flinty by turns, keeping Mitchell on his toes and pushing him and Annie together as part of her cunning plan. And what was she? A Gatekeeper? I still think she was more than just a victim out for revenge – she had more power than that. Plus I rather like the idea that the PTB behind the doors are entirely composed of former soap stars! (see also The Leader of TMWSaTMWR)
There were plenty of other great guests and great moments in series three. One of the very best was Sasha, the very Being Human style zombie. It was another dull thud of a lesson of the week but the character was a riot and as well as being vile and funny and smelly and oozing she was touching and sad. There was the fight in The Pack when Tom, McNair and Mitchell disposed of a cage fights worth of vampires and still found time for the odd sardonic quip. The McNairs generally – and McNair senior in particular with his philosophy on life, shopping and sex education. Richard and Emma’s vampire orgy was entertaining – thought a little Abigail’s Party – and I thought the solution to their blood needs with No. 7 (plus 1-6 in the garden) was rather neat! We also got to meet the dysfunctional Sands family – poor old George, even without the wolf did he really stand much hope of being normal?! There was tenacious (annoying!) Nancy and the musings as to whether she’d return as a vampire and the rather shouty and slimy Cooper.
The penultimate episode – Though the Heavens fall– was amazing and probably the best build up to the climax of a series of them all. In fact it stands up well to many series with bigger budgets and grander ambitions. The Wolf Shaped Bullet has heart stopping moments – Herrick with Mitchell in the cage, the moment Mitchell leaves Annie in the cell after she’d pledged eternity to him, Tom burying McNair, Nina almost dying and Lia’s machinations finally unravelled by Annie with a little help from a pink TV. It had Herrick’s end – this time finally – and after one last beautiful sunrise. It also brought us the twice seen never forgotten Wyndam – the blue eyed, sharp suited wrath of god. Pineapples himself! I might have been tempted by the final episode as my favourite but the last-minute reblocking to allow Mitchell to head for Hobbit-land did show and ended up compromising it just too much. I’d love to have seen the planned version which left Mitchell’s story open.
But neither of these are my favourite. Have you guessed yet?
It’s The Longest Day. How could it be any other?
I know what you’re thinking – it’s another Herrick centred episode. Yes it is but this is my choice for much, much more than that. The writing is the best seen in all five series – and yes, I’m including Toby Whithouse’s in that. (So shoot me.) Once George gets the rambling. wide-eyed Uncle Billy out of the hospital the rest of the episode takes place entirely in Honolulu Heights and the enclosed and almost claustrophobic feel are a part of the story. The lighting and direction are beautifully matched to the unfolding events and the dialogue is perfect for all the main characters. There is depth to Nina’s black and white morality and Annie has a chance to shine. Even Cara is a fully rounded sympathetic character. Wendy the community psychiatric nurse is a triumph – written especially for Nicola Walker by Sarah Phelps – we know her the moment she walks into the house. It’s an acting tour de force and matched by Jason Watkins as the confused amnesiac vampire – or is he? I still think not – there’s enough of that ancient evil showing through to make us wonder.
The whole episode is as theatrical as a TV show can be and I love it! And for once without qualification. Not even a minor Tena Lady moment.
And remember – it’s going to be the most beautiful day.
It’s on to 2010 and series two and an extra two episodes to think about with eight instead of six.
Surprisingly this is one I haven’t had to think too hard about. There is so much to enjoy in this one – I chose it as my favourite series after all – but I just can’t get past one episode that just leaps out as my favourite.
Which one? Wait and see!
This series had the most embedded series arc of all of them. All the characters played their part in the tale of Lucy and Kemp and their dastardly plans. Mitchell was targeted, seduced and narrowly avoided being blown up by them, Nina was convinced they could cure her, George was less so but in desperation went to try and Annie realised that she could never move on and asked Kemp for help. Even though he didn’t think to bring a door. Silly man. Mind you he provided help in spades later on, even after she changed her mind.
Over and above the main arc series two brought us sub-plots and stories that could sit alone but they all very cleverly tied into the main thread. We saw our first proper vampire couple – unless you count Cara and Herrick at the end of S1 – the wonderful Ivan and Daisy. Ivan with his car, his twitter account, his swans; Daisy with her tea dress, enthusiastically friendly nature (ahem) and apparent lack of undercrackers. Sadly Cure and Contagion was the only time we saw them together – such a waste, they could have rampaged hand in hand all over every episode and I’d have been very happy!
It seemed that Annie was going to get all the best plots at the beginning – visible, solid, well just a bit squishy – she got a job and a bloke. Ah yes, Saul. What was Saul? Dead but not a ghost, a minion of the PTB behind the door. And Terry Wogan. And then there was Hugh – the life that Annie should have had – gentle kindness and understanding, Fatima Whitbread and hope.
I have a soft spot for Lucy and her clever manipulation of Mitchell and really liked the way that Mitchell was played against type as a bumbling suitor. Deadly furniture indeed! From the genius of Trevor to the tales of poo… It was never going to end well. There was a lovely moment with Lucy and Mitchell talking on a bench dedicated to Lauren. Memories.
We also met Carl and his gay, human lover Dan – well, technically his dead, gay, human lover Dan. Dan’s death also gave us one of the best/worst vampire jokes in Being Human. “Count Spectacular!” “Mince of Darkness!”
Serve God Love Me and Mend was a great Annie episode – and despite the early promise of this series they are few and far between. It showed us what a fabulous character she is by actually giving her something really good to do. She got another go in Educating Creature when Sykes saved her from the MWSaMWR and went on to teach her about doors and auras. Not that we ever saw any of that again… It had such potential – Sykes was a marvellous idea but the less than subtle way it hammered home Annie’s lesson of the week doesn’t put this at the top of my list.
I can’t not mention the Box Tunnel Massacre – bloody retribution on a commuter train. But was it Daisy’s idea or Mitchell’s? I’m not sure he’d have done something quite so bloody and so impossible to come back from without Daisy and her need for revenge. I’m just glad I don’t do his laundry – even Vanish isn’t going to get those sheets clean! And didn’t props and make up have fun with the bodies?!
All God’s Children was darkly claustrophobic with almost all of it taking place inside the Facility, a real life building that was almost a character in it’s own right. The creeping menace of Mitchell stalking the corridors, George finding the message from Tully, Annie’s answer phone tape and her being torn out of the world. The almost sequel in the cottage when Lucy appeared and Kemp followed, when Annie managed to pop out of purgatory and if that wasn’t enough there was yet another final final scene.
So what was my favourite? I could say it was hard to choose – and to be honest there are great parts to every episode in my favourite series but the choice was easy this time.
The Looking Glass
And not just because of Herrick! The way it pulled together the past and the present – it wasn’t always subtle but the inter-cutting of Mitchell trying to recreate what he had with Josie with Lucy was so clever. There was also the care and amusement of dead babies, the library books, discovering that tea is barbaric and that George probably could eat a whole cat. It was also the start of Mitchell really falling apart, he knows he needs the system – needs Wilson – but he can’t and won’t pay the price of doing his dirty work and Wilson’s death is just the beginning of the fall.
And OK. I admit it. It is mostly about Herrick! A Herrick in a rather sharp suit, a luxurious amount of hair and some cracking speeches – just as we’d expect. It was the beginning of his policeman disguise and he’s a fan of Lewis Carroll. Alice, handcuffs and smiling evil – what more could a girl dream of?!
Now the dust has settled and I’ve had time to ponder the end of series five and THAT extra scene it feels like time to go back to the beginning.
(Oh yes. THAT ending. THAT extra scene. Harrumph. I can see I’ll have to come back to that.)
Having made myself choose a favourite series I’ve gone one step further in the search for the next best bit – my favourite episode. This is going to be fun, given that there are 37 including the pilot and I have no idea where to start to narrow them down. Not a clue.
OK. Here’s a plan. A short-ish blog to choose my favourite episode from each series and then a final choice from them of my absolute best ever episode. OK with you? No? Well, to be honest I’m in charge round here so that’s what I’m doing!
Let’s just go with the flow. (Who leads the flow?) (No one. It’s a flow.)
Series one, six episodes and immediately I have a problem. Yes another one. How do I choose between Tully and Gilbert? Between Josie and Bernie? Between werewolf problems and vampire problems and ghost problems? Do I pick the one with the best lines or try to take a scientific view?
I’m doing this from memory – if I do a rewatch or even read my own book I’m going to find so many little treasures that I’d forgotten about so to go on what has lodged in my tiny mind seems to be the way to go! So what does stand out? Herrick certainly had most of the best lines, while George got a good serving of angst and Mitchell wavered back and forth between the vampires and the humans. I see a theme developing there…
I loved Lauren and was so sorry she didn’t get to be the vampire she might have been. She stood up to Herrick – not many did – and with a bit less angst and soooo sooorry-ness from Mitchell the two of them could have ruled the vampires. She also had some cracking lines – who can forget her riposte to Seth’s “Aow” as he turned to smoke?* And on the subject of great lines (so many!) I really – really – want to use Nina’s put down of George’s Tully-inspired attempt to ask her out.** Yes all of it. Word for word.
I loved Ghost Town and Gilbert is one of my favourite one-show guest characters and – of course – his was the first door we saw, the first resolved UFB. And this was the episode in which we found out that Owen killed Annie, that Mitchell and Annie sort of kissed (‘It’s like being attacked by an ironing board’) and when George rather memorably (and rather vigorously) proved to Nina his premature ejaculation issues were – well, somewhat less serious and rather less premature than she may have thought!
But then there’s episode five – Where the Wild Things Are. It had Annie’s door, the wonderful Josie – all the memories in that simple gesture of remembering exactly how she drinks her coffee – and Owen being driven entirely mad and the policeman needing a different form. Ending with Mitchell bleeding in the hall, Herrick demanding to be let in, George pleading with Annie to go (and letting out a tiny bit of wee) and Annie in a state over pretty much all of it! It set quite a standard for penultimate episodes.
But the last episode – Sarky Mark and his wry humour, Josie sacrificing herself for Mitchell, Herrick so very sure he was going to win – and not just Top Trumps – and we see a hint of the power that takes Annie through four more series to save the world. And that final showdown. George does what he’d always dreaded and he does it for love. Bad Moon Rising had everything – pathos, humour, darkness, horror, Brecht, Nanna and not one but two very clever cliffhangers. And Herrick in bits on the cellar floor… but not before some wonderful final speeches that gave me the title of this blog.
Maybe I should roll a dice? Randomly pick a number?
No. I’ve decided.
Although I’d like to choose more than one my favourite episode from series one has to be episode six – Bad Moon Rising. That’s what my heart is telling me so all analysis is off. And I have to choose it for no other reason than Josie’s death made me cry – and nothing else in Being Human ever has.
* “Well, he won’t be staring at my tits when he speaks to me anymore”
Now that Being Human is at an end (sigh) I’m in the mood for reflection. It’s been an amazing five years and – although I’m very sad to see it go – I AM glad it’s ended when the reaction is still so strong and there are still people passionate about it. So many shows drag themselves through one or two series too many and the end comes as a merciful release. At least that didn’t happen to Being Human.
The thought of watching it from behind my zimmer frame as the thirteenth supernatural trinity tries to save the world (again) is just too much like Last of the Summer Vampires to contemplate! (I bet there still wouldn’t have been a decent strong female vampire character though… although the idea of werewolf Nina Batty with her wrinkly furry stockings does appeal!)
I suspect I still have things to ponder so there are likely to be more posts here but while I digest and process and yes, ponder, here goes with a few quickies about favourites – favourite episodes, series, character, guests and whatever else comes to mind! Any requests?
And I’m starting with a tough one – one which I’m really struggling to answer. Which is my favourite series?
Series one – There Goes the Neighbourhood – introduced us not only to Mitchell, Annie and George but also to the supernatural lore that held their world together. We saw doors to the afterlife, a vampire trying to give up blood and others who very definitely weren’t. We learned about ghosts and their unfinished business and how werewolves are killed from the inside out every month when they transform in agony.
It brought us Herrick – my boy Herrick, the little love – and Seth, Lauren and Nina, wonderful regular characters. The other guests were overall probably the best of all five series – Gilbert, Tully, Josie and – of course – Sarky Mark! Who else? Lovely/evil Owen and tango-tanned Janey, Bernie and Fleur – Toby certainly packed them in over those first six episodes!
We rooted for Annie when she drove Owen mad – especially as he’d fooled us all by seeming to be so very lovely, we cringed with George as he likened Becca to a polo and wept with Mitchell over Josie. We admired the mad hats on the pitchfork weilding mob – and I bet none of them brought jam afterwards. We saw just how Herrick manipulated Mitchell and how he used Lauren to the detriment of brown duvet man. And at the end George did the one thing he feared the most and he did it for Mitchell. He killed Herrick.
Surely now it was all over?
Well, what do you think?!
Series two – God Loves, Man Kills – probably came the closest to fulfilling the original premise – being human. It was the only series where the threat came from humanity and in Lucy and Kemp, and also Hennessey and Lloyd it gave us rounded and convincing human characters – an increasing rarity. I might come back to that – favourite human character… Nina was almost a regular and this is the series that brought us the pre-titles flashback – which I really love. Who else? Sykes – such a great ghost! – and all the randomly dressed theatre ghosts including Robyn the usherette, the second best moustache from Alan Cortez and an attempt at a proper grown up relationship for George with the possibly only slightly desperate Sam. Oh and Molly. That child was not normal…
Series two has some wonderful stories and lovely detail – Annie was visible for a while before Saul – what WAS Saul? – and to have sweet Hugh and his Fatima Whitbread fetish whipped away was so sad. We finally saw just how dark Mitchell’s heart could get – with just a little help and encouragement from Daisy. And lets never forget the wonderful Ivan, and his car and his taste in music and his inimitable, elegant languor…
And how could anyone forget the best episode of the series – The Looking Glass. Lucy finally gets her end away, we see how Mitchell met Josie and Herrick returned! In a dapper brocade waistcoat, a suspicious amount of hair and a tidy way with a pair of handcuffs…
I’m not helping myself choose here!
Series three – The Wolf Shaped Bullet – was probably the darkest of all five series, not that that is a bad thing. The first series from Wales, away from the iconic pink house and into Honolulu Heights. Nina is a fully fledged regular and Anne and Mitchell… well, you know how I feel about that. We also got the magnificent McNairs – and when we watched Tom eat his Knickerbocker Glory and promise to take a nap and have a proper tea how could we have imagined where his story would take us?
Nina got pregnant, George got to say ‘what’ a lot, Annie got soppy and Mitchell got… well, grubbier. (Sorry M-fans, sooooo soooorrrrry…) More great guests – Vincent, Adam – filthy, pervy Adam – Sasha the zombie WAG, Richard and Emma and no. 7 (and 1-6 ‘resting’ in the garden) and the rather lovely Wendy the social worker. And Cara was back!
And so was Herrick – resurrected and confused. Or was he? I think not, he was chilling, funny and deadly in turns – and all in stripy pjs and a flowery shirt. You have to admire that! And as befits him, he got all the best tunes. Dirge, History Repeating Itself – just so very Herrick.
And in the end? Herrick gone, a fleeting glimpse of a potential super vampire villain in the steely blue-eyed Wyndam and then Mitchell was dust. But it’s OK, it’s because George loved him…
Series four – The War Child – was a challenge. No Mitchell, Nina and Wyndam disposed of between series and only one episode for George before he kicked the bucket and a few vampire arses, leaving just Annie from the original threesome. We got new vampire Hal with his braces and dominoes, baby Eve and adult future Eve and some timey-whimey stuff that I’m not even going to try to explain. We also had nipple encrusted prophecies – and no, I’m not going to try to explain them either! We found ourselves a great new baddie – the amoral, self-interested, sarky, snarky Cutler with his grand plans and too short sleeves. Focus groups – now why did my boy Herrick never think of that?!
More great guests – Griffin and his Thursday fajitas, Pearl and Leo and their fifty-years on hold romance, the return of Adam with a succubus in tow, Fergus – a street smart version of Seth, Allison the trainee barrister werewolf and Regus. Lovely Regus the Vampire Recorder, sex memory pilferer with his extraordinary T-shirt collection! You have to love a vampire in a Team Edward shirt… I have a rather soft spot for Golda (and her human skin filofax – I want one) and investigative supernatural reporter Pete. (AKA a quick munch…)
The Old Ones arrived, led by the elegantly wasted away Mr Snow but before they could pluck Barry apart Annie blew them apart with a vat or two of old chip fat. Collateral damage included a vaporised baby Eve thereby saving the world and bringing Annie that one final door.
That’s one hell of a bit of unfinished business!
Series five – The Trinity – was the final one and was written as such so expectations were high for a grand and great send off. To cap it all the Big Bad for the series was the devil – actually The Devil. Albeit in a wheelchair, a cardigan and a bit of a state… The new trinity was established with the addition of Alex, feisty, sparky, killed by Cutler (Hal drank her blood – not sure anyone ever mentioned that) and with the potential to be a pretty decent female lead! For a while until the lovelorn, motherly stuff kicked in. Hal took his shirt off a lot. Tom meanwhile wandered lonely as a cloud that floats on high o’er vales and hills in search of some sort of plot…
Along with Captain Hatch/Old Scratch/Old Nick/add your own devil name we had Mr Rook. Head of the Department that keeps us safe and supernaturals’ secret – and a victim of Government budget cuts. Poor Dominic went a bit mad and until the end it was never quite clear whose side he was on. His own maybe…
More guests – good ones in wolf-mountain Bobby, Alex’s dad and Lady Catherine, decent enough ones in Lady Mary and Larry and just plain damned bloody awful ones in Crumb and Alan. Dire. Dreadful. (No I didn’t like them. Sorry, wasn’t that clear?) There were also indescribably amazing guests in a selection of bloggers – darlings, you were wonderful! Mwah! Mwah! The ideas were epic, the execution less so but we did finally see two of the things that Toby said we’d never see – the Men With Sticks and The Men With Ropes and Toby himself doing acting. I think the suit was trying for its own BAFTA but at least he didn’t wave to the camera…
Did they save the world again? The jury’s out on that one. As is the jury on whether they are really human or trapped by The Devil in an alternative universe.
My money’s on the bleak, dark ending – but that won’t surprise anyone!
It’s a tough one, as I love all of them for different reasons.
But if I must pick one of the five I think for overall strength of story, diverse and wonderfully nuanced characters, depth and subtly of writing and well, everything that makes Being Human what it is I’m going to have to go for series two – “God Loves, Man kills”
Although I reserve the right to change my mind according to mood, phase of the moon and whether my shoes hurt – or just because really!
For series five of Being Human we are promised a villain worse than any we have seen before. That got me thinking about evil (for a change) and whether any of the BH baddies to date have been truly evil. They all had their moments but just how would we decide who was the evil-est of all? A magic mirror is of little use for most of this lot!
Having given this, oh, at least five minutes of deep and serious thought I think it’s high time we added a new Olympic event. Stand by for the award of the inaugural awarding of the medals in the Being Human Ultimate Evil Stakes. (Perhaps a slightly unfortunate choice of word there!)
If you’d like to gather round the podium, any time this week would be good.
It’s a lovely podium, rising out of the ashes of Stokers and there’s even bunting – although I’ve never seen bunting with nipple on it before. We’re not able to televise the ceremony; we’re having problems getting the competitors in focus which is a shame. They look very cute in their gym kit and plimsolls.
Anyway, here are the results in the oh-so-traditional reverse order.
In last place is the lovely Professor Lucy Jaggat who has an unusual emblem on the back of her running kit. Looks just like a… Ahem. Anyway. She warmed up well but she never really got off the starting blocks. She couldn’t decide which way to go.
In lucky seventh place strolls Edgar Wyndam. He never had the chance to get going but you’d think he’d have learned a trick or two by now. I rather suspect he was saving his energies for the crucifixion repechage.
In a very creditable sixth place was Mr Snow, despite suggestions he may be better qualified for the veteran’s event. Not sure what happened to the official that made that point, he hasn’t been seen for a while. To be honest, Mr Snow didn’t compete himself but sent Milo to run for him. Luckily the event wasn’t held on the full moon but in the event all that leather slowed him down. Not to mention causing some dreadful chafing… That’s what you get for forgetting your kit, next time he’ll have to run in his pants.
Coming in fifth and might have done better if he hadn’t kept changing direction (or stopping for a fag) is Mitchell, sadly not living up to his reputation. There’s been a grand PR job by his management but the delivery when it comes to the crunch (or munch) doesn’t back it up. Maybe the puppy dog eyes and the quivering lip are slowing him down? Maybe he needs a hairgrip? Mitchell qualified for the final on the benefit of the doubt system but frankly should have been disqualified for the state of his kit.
The cruellest place of all, just outside the medals, and Hal gets fourth. Lots of promise here but as yet unproven and perhaps if he hadn’t stopped to line up the javelins and sort the sandpit into order of size of grain he might have won. Maybe next time we’ll see what he’s really made of. He does get the turn out prize for his impeccably ironed togs but he should leave the comedy moustache behind next time. It did terrible things to his wind resistance… and stopping to give people phone numbers did slow him down.
It was unfortunate to see a certain amount of barging and jockeying for position among the third and fourth placed competitors but Cutler just eased ahead to claim the bronze medal, although I understand he’s having it melted down and made into a statuette. Sometimes what counts is how much you want it and he had the determination and absolute lack of doubt that he was on the right track. He was literally on fire over the last few meters…
In second place, silver medal winner and let’s have a warm hand for Herrick. He so nearly ran away with it and if he hadn’t stopped to try and encourage Mitchell when he got distracted by a new toy he would have romped home. Interesting choice of strip though – who’d have known that he could move so fast in those slippers?
The gold goes to an outsider, the odds were long and I hope you had a decent amount of money on this one! The previously Reverend Kemp left all in his evil wake. With a level of dedication to his cause that no one else could surpass he never wavered, never doubted and never stopped. His training facility was unsurpassed and produced some quite explosive results.
As with so many other things it all comes down to timing and – let’s face it – Kemp always knew the end was nigh…
That is – of course – a reference to the truly dreadful tartan hat sported by Mitchell in series one and two. It’s beyond awful. Luckily for all concerned it seemed to get lost in the hurried move to Barry or was burned and the ashes ceremonially danced on by someone who’d had the misfortune to see it…
Oh. Apparently I have to add something here.
Some people liked it. And the yellow T-shirt. And the saggy tracky bottoms.
You know who you are.
Can I move on now?
I wrote about the Being Human costumes in my book about series 1-3 so I’m not going to go over that again. (If you are desperate to read it you might have to buy a copy!) Series four gives some decent pickings though, frock-wise…
Series four did answer the question about how vampires do their hair. Easy. Make sure your werewolf is a barber… Now that may not be the solution for everyone but all unholy trinity households should have one. Maybe Mitchell would never have got into all that trouble if George had been good with scissors and had trimmed his fringe regularly.
Hal’s initially formal attire fitted perfectly with Pearl and Leo’s household – maybe without a reflection it’s easiest for a vampire to reflect what they see around them. He stayed pretty buttoned up once ensconced in HH but did venture into something a little more casual, although that beige car coat is going to impress no one! No one under 75 anyway… Interesting that the black coat only ever came out when he was verging on bad Hal – dressing for the role. If Hal could have seen himself in the mirror I suspect he’d never have gone back to the cafe – blue shoe and sleeve covers? They may match but elegant they are not!
He broke out a suit for his date with Alex. That was good as she’s also made an effort and dressed like a girl for the occasion. This may have turned out to be a misjudgment… Not sure if Hal had the suit prepared for such an eventuality or if he nipped into TopMan on the way out. My suspicion is that there are carefully labelled and immaculately ironed prepared outfits for all conceivable occasions hanging neatly in plastic covers in his wardrobe.
Poor old Tom gets a rough deal frock wise. He’s been living in a small blue van so must have had limited hanging rails and probably no special shoe cupboard but even so… Michael Socha admits on the S4 DVD interviews that while Hal gets a go at Paul Smith Tom’s in Primark… Nothing wrong with Primark, of course – or so I’m told anyway. (Can’t go in myself – allergic to static.)
He does make an effort to go to dinner with Cutler with a spectacularly Eurovision frilly shirt… It’s a lovely part of Tom’s story that he’s never worn a tie and when Cutler puts it on for him it points out the way he’s about to break Tom apart – scientifically cutting him up into tiny bleeding pieces. Clever – he could have walked round the table but reaching over asserted his dominance so much better. He might as well have been tying a noose.
Annie is still in her grey – leggings, boots, white top but she has a bigger cardi this time round. All the better to swaddle you with. I wonder what lessons were taken from Annie’s costume in deciding what Alex should face eternity (or series five) wearing? I wonder if her outfit will morph like Annie’s did according to her confidence and her moods. Maybe it won’t – after all, we keep getting told Annie is unique. She may be horrified at facing her ghostly future in a frock but it could have been so much worse… Remember the theatre ghosts in series two? Makes you want to rethink your hobbies – and it’s a serious reminder that white socks are always A Very Bad Idea. Especially with latex….
There was the usual sprinkling of police uniforms – the vampires do love a costume don’t they – and I think that Griffin was the most senior we’ve seen so far. Cutler had some suitably solicitor-ish suits, even though most of the sleeves seem a touch on the short side! Was the briefcase he had in the police station when he bailed out Tom the same one that he had when he first met Hal? Not sure, need to go back and check – unless anyone else already knows that. I’m sure someone else is as obsessive as me…
The Old Ones were formally attired in a collection of curious suits and evening dresses. I have no idea why their arrival in perfect formation made me think of a mid-range production of Evita but it did. If only Mr Snow had given us a quick chorus of “Don’t cry for me Argentina” (or even Bolivia) from a handy balcony.
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.
Come inside luv…
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.
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?