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…
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!
After a long wait we had the teasing, the build up, the start and then eight lovely weeks of all new Being Human. And now it’s done. All over for another year and another 46 weeks of waiting stretches ahead of us.
Maybe it’s time to reflect on what actually happened?
Nina’s gone – unseen which was a shame and I’m quite sure she exploded in a terminal build up of sarky narkyness. Well, beaten to death by vampires in truth but it’s not so different. Off screen deaths just don’t have much emotional impact do they?
George lasted most of episode one before killing himself to save his daughter in a half-baked transformation prompted by a great deal of straining and a picture of the moon. He was a dead man walking from the beginning but he does his bit – killing the transient OO running the show, naming his baby (I liked Splodge actually…) and making Annie promise to look after her. (Yes. Well. Might be coming back to that!)
Wyndam, Big Bad of the WSB, is also dead but in an unspecified way at George’s hand/claw/stake/whatever. Off screen was the way to do this as I cannot for a moment believe in the vanquishing of the Wrath of God, the Man from Del Monte by our favourite wimpy werewolf. If I must believe he’s gone then as far as I’m concerned he fell on his own stake in despair after George expounded on his theory of upholstery cleaning. At length.
Episode one was a rollercoaster of setting up, knocking down and knocking around in places we’ve never been before… Some loved it, some hated it and some sat with their mouths open going “Whaaaa…..?????” and possibly drooling slightly. I loved it. It brought us the aptly named Stokers, the sharply dressed, sharper tongued Cutler, Regus the Vampire Recorder (“Oh, for a moment there I thought you had a really stupid name”) and a glimpse at another WW/vamp/ghost household. In Southend.
And let’s not forget Dewi – little loquacious Dewi. Love him or hate him or – like his mum – irritated beyond belief by him he was a perfect comic character who seems to have discovered the secret of perpetual motion… Pass the door sausage someone?
We also went to explore strange new worlds, to seek… hang on, wrong show, to visit new horizons. The future. Well, lots of futures. In the hands of Future Woman – later revealed to be grown up Eve – we saw how the vampires took the world as a plaything. It seemed that every glimpse was slightly different as Splodge of the Resistance’s plan to change history gradually altered what was to come.
We met a succubus, a perfect partner for a vampire as the spell defeats the blood lust. And the schoolmarm instincts defeat the foul mouth… a bit. Said vampire was 46-year-old teenager Adam returning with a touch of depth and a plethora of mucky comments. His parting gesture has to be one of the filthiest the BBC allows! It’s worth noting we have two new types of supernatural to catalogue here as we know there must be demons as succubus Yvonne was fathered by a beautiful and cruel demon. We saw our first evil ghost, terylene clad Kirby. He was sent by Splodge but frankly why choose a tank top wearing serial killer? Even though he was astonishingly plausible. Actually that was probably why! He probably did it just for the fun of being so nasty. He gave us a glimpse of blue-eyed, kick ass Annie – a hint of things to come.
And about Annie… Annie is Annie. She was suffering from the loss of George, Nina and Mitchell, busy with the baby she had promised to bring up and faced with an empty house. It made perfect sense to invite Hal and Tom to move in but although they became close in some ways they never bonded fully. Partly preoccupation with Splodge, partly fear of being left alone again – the one thing that Annie is truly scared of is loneliness. Once she was tempted through the door with Splodge of the Resistance (SotR) and saw the bleakness of the future (“Oh, do people have jetpacks?” “No. Mostly everyone’s dead”) everything changed and her horror of what she had to do was harrowing to watch. Even when SotR pleaded from the TV to let Cutler kill the baby she couldn’t do it and when she finally went out with a bang – exploded baby and all – it was the right end. I mean, she only saved the world! That’s one hell of a box of unfinished business…
We got to know Tom, set free from his Dad’s shadow and his rusty blue van. He gave the van to Dewi and moved into HH (“Such a big ‘arse, wiv all them empty rooms”) He proved a worthy lead character, blending ruthless killer with lost boy, trust and mistrust with a naive charm that endeared him to all and sundry. His desire for a happy family life was thrown into painful contrast with his willingness to send Allison away, it was beautifully done and she has to be thanked for his hilarious adventures with cue cards. (“Point!”)
Hal had some wonderful comic sciences with Tom (“I’m his boyfriend” though firmly gritted teeth) and at times he looked like a startled toddler! Mostly though Hal’s watchful stillness let the story wind around him and the others reflect off him. We had hints of his past from the prequel and from Fergus (Poor Fergus – I was just getting like him when he hit the hoover…) It wasn’t until episode seven that we saw just why he had been so feared. It was a classic BH penultimate episode and the story of how he made Cutler, and then how he took what he had made and played with him like a cat. Such utter coldness, such total cruelty. That Hal had no redeeming quality whatsoever. Not a thing.
It put Cutler in perfect focus – sarky sharp talking Cutler – a very modern vampire using social media and press hysteria to “provide a new context”. Of course no one was keen – the vampires aren’t exactly a progressive bunch! He was an interesting prospect in that while he drank blood, no angsty going clean here, he seemed to avoid killing. I suspect he didn’t like to stain his cuffs and a mouthful from the decanter seemed to suffice. He was desperate to prove himself, he was ambitious and confident and I’d have liked to have seen more. A 21st century vampire, never parted from his iPhone, a solicitor and a progressive thinker; it’s an intriguing idea and puts the undead even more firmly into real life than the shadowy, invisible jobs usually favoured.
Oh well. What do I know? Yet another favourite bites the dust. What a way to go though!
The gore quotient was raised this series – of which I heartily approve! There’s always been plenty of blood but this year we had corpses not just ripped apart but bled tidily into containers and maggoty wounds (chewy!). We found out what happens when a vampire isn’t asked in – flame grilled rare hamburger – and what happens if an Old One wants your guts for garters… squelchy! And while we’re speaking of the unspeakable… oh dear SotR – yellow florals?? Why?
We also had classy blood drinking from this year’s crop of vampires, with crystal decanters and some rather attractive stemware. Plus the useful information that it is mostly beetroot juice. Apparently beetroot juice lowers blood pressure and increases stamina… I think I’ll just leave that thought right there!
Lots to look forward to – was that really the end of the Old Ones? Who is the mysterious Mr Rook? Who will rise? And will they ever get that carpet clean? Hal’s detox is bound to leave another mark or two…
And we know that the series starts sometime in week six (BBC’s version of week six is from Saturday 4 to Friday 10 February. I have 50p on the 5th…
We also have mini-teasers for Annie, Tom and Hal.
So… that trailer.
It starts with George’s tears, a baby and no Nina. That sounds like a sticky end to me. It looks as though George trusts no one any more – he even needs to prove to himself that Tom isn’t a vampire. Just what has happened? Presumably vampires have happened as the baby’s cot is surrounded by crosses. There’s another policeman and he looks pretty senior. A vampire? They do seem to be quite taken with the police force, I suspect it’s the uniform that appeals. Or the handcuffs… He wants the child dead – this is the first time a werewolf has been born and not made. She must die.
An as yet unknown man has Annie by the throat, she looks panicked, Hal looks tweedy and determined, George looks, well, rabid to be honest, Tom’s staking as if born to it (which he was) and there’s transforming. Of more than one werewolf. Most bizarrely of all, Mr Weasley seems to have hidden up in the basement wearing a tea towel Nativity costume and holding the baby – the war child. What’s THAT all about? Oh and Annie has a stake too. Maybe Cooper was just the start.
There’s a nice touch of humour at the end and a good indicator that Hal is going to be an amusing chap to have around. Straight to the point and not a brow furrowed apology in sight!
“I’m a vampire. He’s a werewolf. Any questions?“
Annie and Tom’s teaser clips don’t add a great deal – they are both left holding the baby – cue ‘Awww. Cute’ moments all round. Or maybe not quite all round. The battle to come is hinted at, not terribly subtly it has to be said, and Tom’s baby sling has handy loops to hold a supply of stakes and Annie’s powers are making the lights flicker. Please let these powers be real this time – it’s time we saw smart, stong Annie!
Hal’s teaser is very different – he sets them up and he knocks them down. Considering just how old he is, he could mean anything and I suspect that – like Wyndam – he has a few tricks up his sleeve and dominos are just the start. But can he really be what he seems? Just who is he setting up? And who is he planning to knock down? And I hope he didn’t sneeze when they were filming that clip!
Before we get too tied up in analysis and prediction it’s interesting to look back at last year’s trailer and see if it really told us anything about series three.
Mitchell on the night bus, tempted by a tasty snack probably told us the least about his journey to come (maybe because it was diverted at a late stage by the call to dwarves’R’us). In S3 he’d pretty much sorted the bloodlust, he didn’t bite anyone although he got a touch stake-happy – Graham, Herrick (sob) and an assortment of vampires in the cage fight audience. Although it has to be said that Sadie from Ritzy’s (or Ritzy from Sadie’s) had a narrow escape.
Annie was in the library surrounded by swirling volumes. I hoped it indicated a new strength, that she would come back from purgatory the powerful spirit I wanted to see. But no. Back to making tea in a kitchen equipped with an urn – a major step backwards. Although seeing her bombarded with information forecasted the crime wall, the cuttings and research, the old police files, the knowledge of what Mitchell had really done, hidden in plain sight. The marriage of heaven and hell? Well, they tried but it never really stuck. Maybe series four will be Annie’s.
Nina and George and this one did hit the mark, the contrast of comfy domesticity, supermarket shopping together with the urge of the wolf which – as we now know – resulted in some new maths. WW(M) + WW(F) = mini-WW. Or do we need to apply a vampire-styled formula to make something else entirely…
So series four may or may not be anything like anything we can get from the trailer. Just like the little teasers Toby dangles in front of our ravenous imaginations, well, it could go any way it wants to!
So, we have spoilers for series four – otherwise known as publicity material!!
If you have got this far but don’t want to know anything until transmission well, good luck with that, but STOP READING NOW!
Before the promised trailer appears later this week I was thinking about what we actually know about S4? Not assume, suppose, presume, embroider or invent but what do we know. I have a little list (which I’m not claiming is exhaustive or complete, I’m ony human) (for the moment anyway…) but I thought it might be useful to gather it all together.
In June Toby promised “lots of new faces, an old face, a genuinely shocking death, a new villain, a sort-of new kind of supernatural… and a journey to somewhere even we have never gone before.”
Come January and we’re still promised the shocking death, the new supernatural and the journey to somewhere new. As to the old face – who knows? Added to that is a roster of guests – Alex Jennings, Mark Gatiss, James Lance, Mark Williams, Amanda Abbingdon, Craig Roberts (reprising his role as teen vamp Adam), Selina Griffiths and Ellie Kendrick. Toby also confirmed the departure of Russell Tovey as George during S4 – as had already been announced by Russell. Leona will lead and he assures us she is jaw-droppingly brilliant. Micheal Socha becomes a lead and will break our hearts as Tom while Damien Molony, an exciting new talent, joins as Hal, 500 year old vampire. In a separate blog he also bade farewell to Sinead Keenan who has also left meaning that Nina will not appear in S4.
Our first sight of the new vamp on the block, in an unknown location in 1955, chattering away to werewolf Leo, chained but certainly not helpless and waiting to be taken to the cage for his sixth full moon dogfight at which he plans to throw himself on the hapless human’s knife before he transforms so he won’t kill again. Presumably Hal hasn’t done so well on the ‘friend to confide in/shoulder to cry on’ front at this point in his long life…
It does seems that Hal is the loquacious type – among the interesting details he tells Leo are that he was born in a brothel, ran away to sea, fought in the Battle of Orsha (in 1514, thanks Wikipedia) and was recruited as a vampire by an army surgeon. “I have been so many people since then” he says. We know Hal has a reputation, Leo – despite being a captive – is the only person in the building not scared of him but he wants to be different, a new person, the old Hal is coming to his natural end and he has hope for the new Hal, the next cycle in his endless life. And possibly a house by the sea and a cold beer. Maybe a decent haircut…
The SFX feature
Photos, interviews with Micheal Socha and Damien Molony and TW’s episode guide… So, what did SFX tell us? There’s a baby. Presumably a baby werewolf although in TW’s world who knows! The cot is in the attic with a mobile of crosses and angels… I’m sure I can hear the ghost of Herrick tutting.
We know Nina does not appear and that although George is in series four he’s not a central character, this is the end of his Being Human journey. The photos show him looking – well, angry, depressed, distraught? Murderous? This is certainly not the hopeful, squeaky, rather geeky George from the past… He’s clutching variously a stake, a mirror and a cross. Something tells me this isn’t going to end well.
Toby Whithouse explained that Hal is one of the Old Ones, over 500 years old and that all the older vampires have cycles in their lives that can take them to extremes. “So there’ll be periods of malevolence, then periods of relative calm and decency, followed by another period of being an utter shit!” I suspect the word ‘relative’ to be fairly meaningful in this context…
What else? Hal and Tom work together in a cafe and after a fractious start the vampire and the werewolf become friends. Someone is trying to out supernaturals through social media (oh, very modern!) and – sadly – Wyndam will not be returning, presumably the pineapples need watering… “We’ve got a revolving door in terms of vampire nemeses” explains Toby. The series arc builds on Wyndam’s declaration that the age of the vampires begins now and just how they plan to pull that off.
SFX revealed the episode titles and some cryptic hints on each from Toby – so cryptic he hasn’t actually told us much at all – although he did make me laugh. Quite a lot. The titles are Eve of the War; Being Human 1955; The Graveyard Shift; A Spectre Calls; Hold the Front Page; Puppy Love; Making History and the final episode of the series The War Child. One curious nugget about the final episode is “the King of the Vampires as played by a modern genre legend” Hmmmm, interesting…
The best and funniest line in the whole feature has to come from Damien Molony who said “The majority of the people who follow me on Twitter have Aidan Turner as their profile photo, so I was like ‘Fuck me!’”
The BBC Press Pack
The press pack for S3 was so chock full of spoilers they might as well of sent us all the scripts! This one is better, and it gives away no more than we can see on the BBC Blog and the various interviews such as the SFX one, in fact the introduction for Toby Whithouse was exactly what was posted on the Blog. Lesson learnt (or money saved…)
The actor interviews are the best part and there’s a nice hint in Lenora’s, right at the end. “Annie realises her destiny this series, and this is a powerful role in itself, rather than it being new tricks she can perform – which there are a few that she discovers this series.”
Micheal Socha talks about the joy and challenge of playing his first lead role. Tom was so protected by McNair that he is emotionally still 13 or 14 years old and now he has to grow up. As Micheal says “He copies McNair in a lot of ways, there are a lot of similarities, a lot of things Tom has taken with him, but I think Tom now is his own man. He may be looking for a bit of guidance along the way, but deep down he knows he is now on his own.”
Damien Molony gives a great insight into joining the show, how he worked on his character – especially as it is his first TV job – as well as following (or not) in Mitchells’ footsteps. He also says a little more about Hal and this snippet intrigues me. “He hasn’t drunk blood for a long time, but before that he was a legendary figure amongst the vampires. Even more dangerous character than Mitchell, perhaps even more than Herrick.”
Or not really a prequel as it shows us the future and reminds us of the past we already know… Glimpses of his life with McNair, how he was protected and loved, his innocence carefully minded by his Dad despite his readiness (and ability) to kill vampires. The sorrow of losing McNair contrasts with some lovely humour and the subtle play of expressions on Micheal Socha’s face bode very well for his lead role in S4. Naive and deadly, polite and unfortunately honest – bless him and his empty folder, the little were-bambi (a term I can take no credit for – thanks Susan!) It doesn’t tell us much we don’t already know about Tom except – and pay attention as this might be slightly important – he’s got rather proficient at making bombs from used cooking oil… Deep fried vampire anyone? With chips? Salt and vinegar on that…?
I’m sure there’s loads of stuff I’ve forgotten I know and there’s still the trailer to come as well as a confirmed transmission date… anytime soon will do please!
Analysis, prodding and poking of all this lovely detail to come in due course once I’ve digested and mused. After all, we all need something to ponder…
Firstly – and before the obligatory suspension of disbelief – how do you get a job when you’re undead? Or just dead? No national insurance number, no tax code and heaven forbid they want to take your photo on induction day for your ID card!
Werewolves seem to have it easy – in some ways. They are still mostly human so the paperwork is in place. They can be photographed. Luckily in the world of Being Human the full moon always happens at night so as long as you work the right shifts no need to book a monthly holiday or go off poorly.
HR: “I see a pattern of sickness absence emerging here. You are off work for a day every four weeks.”
WW: “Yes. I’m a werewolf.”
HR (backing away): “I’ll put it down as a virus shall I?”
Nina gets work easily – or so it seems, but then a good nurse is always going to find a job. I did wonder what someone so spiky was in the caring professions but I suspect there are clues to that compulsion to heal in Nina’s past – and maybe there’s another post there!
What did George do before Tully? It’s not quite clear – in the press pack for the pilot episode Russell Tovey descried George as an academic and in the pilot Julia, George’s ex-fiancée assumed he was now a doctor. Whatever he did he was seriously bright. He must have doctored (even amputated) his work history to get a porter’s job. When he decided to re-emerge into the world of work he taught English as a foreign language. Would he have stuck it out without the werewolf Tourette’s and the resulting savage beating he gave his – admittedly dreadful – boss? I don’t know. Poor innocent George – it seemed quite sensible to him to teach his class about swearing. Maybe if he’d thought it through a little!
Werewolves need some means of support, they need housing, clothing and feeding. McNair had no job and presumably didn’t sign on – now that’s a ‘back to work’ interview I’d like to have seen! He still managed to shop in Waitrose, although not everything went through the tills…
In contrast, do ghosts ever really need to work? They don’t eat or sleep, what expenses do they have!? Certainly not new shoes.
Unusually in the BH ghost world, Annie became visible, if a little squishy, after she turned down her door and took the opportunity to get out and about. Well, she took a job at the pub three doors down.
“Way to go…”
Annie’s interview with Hugh was a master class in the triumph of cock-eyed, enthusiastic optimism over wary, confused but besotted! Of course he gave her the job although you have to wonder if anyone had applied?! Or considered the deployment of a climbing wall. Presumably it was cash in ghostly hand – the tax office may have been rather taken aback otherwise. Mitchell (gently) mocked her lack of ambition but with Owen’s controlling nature I doubt Annie ever got to explore her potential. Too risky, she might have ended up seeing Owen for what he was, might have wanted out.
The vampires make a better fist of employment. In the tie-in novels there is a nice reference to Herrick running a system of look-alikes for photos. With just enough vampires placed through the authorities they can ease the way for others as well as covering up the odd escapade. (Here’s looking at you, Mitchell!)
Mitchell is working at the most anonymous job he can find as a hospital cleaner. It also conveniently keeps him away for the sunlight! I’ve no idea what he’s done in the past – well, we know some of it but not about his exploits in the world of gainful employment. Herrick will have always looked after him, it probably never crossed his mind there might be another way. He tells Bernie his only options were the army and the church. An ironic choice given where he ended up. In another world might we have seen Sarky Mitch discussing theological crises with Sarky Mark?
Annie is very keen for Mitchell to progress and get on. He’s quite content to get another cleaning job, it suits him, it works – why push his luck? Annie proves to be an interesting interview coach and an absolute whizz at writing references. (Note to self – always check references carefully, make sure the ‘are you alive?’ box is ticked.) Maybe one day, Annie muses, Michell might reach the dizzy heights of the hospital canteen! It worked wonders for Cara’s prospects… in some ways, anyway.
Herrick, of course, is a copper and doesn’t he just revel in that uniform! A useful device for the purposes of keeping his troops out of trouble, keeping a check on them and going just about anywhere he wants to. I’m guessing he doesn’t interview a lot of suspects, watching the tapes back might raise some interesting questions. I think we saw his first realisation about just how helpful this guise could be in the 1969 flashback. At least by the time he picniced on the finest of the Barry constabulary he’d stopped dropping blood on the shirt collars.
What else has Herrick done? Well, in life he was a legal clerk. I wonder what his background was, he hadn’t progressed very far for his age and clearly resented the drudge work. He seemed rather well acquainted with evil intentions, not to mention the more specialised type of London brothel! Had he been caught before? Locked up? Locked away? It’s an interesting thought, where could that evil genius have taken him, before the resentful servitude in which Hetty found him?
Something to ponder…
In case you’ve forgotten here’s Annie’s attempts to ‘help’ Mitchell through his interview with Ms Ma… Ms Mawu… Missus.