SAN DIEGO — Mitchell is a vampire with a bit of a feeding problem, George is a werewolf still learning to control his inner beast, and Annie is a spirited ghost waiting for death’s door. All three supernatural beings of BBC3 series "Being Human" live in an apartment in Bristol, England; unbeknown to the world which fears them. Although the premise description appears rather weak on paper, the script developed and written by its creator Toby Whithouse is brilliant onscreen.
Yes, it’s about three very common creatures within the horror genre but Whithouse’s creative aptitude for witty dialogue and complex stories makes it stand apart from the competition. Because underneath the surface, the heart of the series truly relates to very human, universal, themes: the need for companionship, love, and friendship as well as the fear of the unknown.
The first season aired in 2008 and set the foundation for its mythology. Viewers were led into the everyday world which mirrored itself to be more mundane than magical. George (Russell Tovey) and Mitchell (Aidan Turner) both work at a hospital as orderlies by day. While their latest flatmate Annie, a ghost, (Lenora Crichlow) keeps herself busy performing routine chores — one of which includes making plenty of tea. Of course, the flipside surfaces as George’s inability to accept his "beast" becomes further complicated when he falls in love with a doctor, Nina Pickering played by Sinead Keenan. In addition to Annie hunts for answers concerning her death, Mitchell’s conflict with the vampire council reaches critical mass especially with William Herrick. By the end of its first season "Being Human" established a set of boundaries, and reflected the important relationship Annie, George, and Mitchell have as a group.
This second season follows the aftermath of Herrick’s demise, and explores a more menacing, human, threat. The risks are greater, and the danger more harrowing with lots of surprises and challenges to keep viewers hooked for the next several weeks. Luckily, Blast was able to meet with series creator Toby Whithouse and the cast of "Being Human" (Aidan Turner, Russell Tovey, Lenora Crichlow, and Sinead Keenan) during their visit at the annual San Diego Comic Con this July to discuss the show’s development and answer questions.
QUESTION: What did you guys first think of the script, considering it was about a vampire, a werewolf, and a ghost who all live together?
RUSSELL TOVEY: I first thought it sounded like a kids showâ€¦it didn’t seem as it was going to work but then you read it and find out it’s much much more. The levels on the show are much more human than they are supernatural. It’s a big part of the selling point which is why so many people connect to it.
SINEAD KEENAN: The cross everyone has to bear is quite incidental. It’s about their relationships.
LENORA CRICHLOW: These characters were all originally written as very human characters. Toby had developed them to a (higher) degree as human beings. Then the supernatural air kind of just lent itself. All the supernatural elements in "Being Human" are deep rooted, and can be easily drawn back to human traits, human conditions. All of that is very evident in the scriptâ€¦
I thought either this (the script) is really clever because I drew all the parallels — they were there on the page – and you think "ah that’s such a different way of approaching all the relationships with the dynamic of the flatshareâ€¦" (or) maybe I had read too much into it. So when I went into my audition and asked (about the direction) and they said yes I thought it was really interesting.
AIDAN TURNER: It was such a novice idea but it came out so original. It’s the most basic supernatural idea possible. Toby has created this show which stands on its own which is really cool.
QUESTION: Speaking of that supernatural element, some of the show’s fans speculate that the connection between Annie and Mitchell has a lot to do with their associations with death. For viewers who have seen the entire second season, it’s suggests it even more. What do you think about that theory?
LC: Annie and Mitchell? Yeah, I suppose it isâ€”
AT: Dunno, Annie’s hot that’s what it is (laughs) well from Mitchell’s point of view anyway.
LC: Well that helps (laughs) Annie’s beautifully, fantastically, wonderfully fit! Mitchell isâ€¦he’s alright under the right light. But I think their connection is deeper than thatâ€¦I think they’re both very stuck, and they don’t age. They each got such individual and different fights.
AT: It’s a stability thing because she’s not going anywhere.
LC: And Annie sees the good in you (Mitchell.)
AT: And a lot of people don’t see the good in Mitchell. I think Mitchell needs just that (stability,) he’s been running for so long from this problem, this disease that he has, and suddenly he moves in with this wolf which is something he would have never done before. And I think Annie in a lot of ways is the anchor in the house because she doesn’t go anywhere. She’s such a nurturing person, and that’s exactly what Mitchell needs. He needs someone to look after him because he doesn’t have anybody else. So I think he’s naturally sort of drawn to the character of Annie, almost immediately.
LC: But I think that’s true of all of their relationshipsâ€¦because there really isn’t — if they check into it — anything to live for because they got these things (their supernatural qualities) forever. Annie could, quite understandably, not get out of bed in the morning. No matter how much she grows and develops she’s still stuck. Same with Mitchell, he’s always going to have the lust (for blood,) George is always going to have his once a month deal going on. So for them, I think they feel like it’s for each other. They have to end up, showing up, for each other.
RT: It’s kind of codependentâ€”
LC: Yeah, a codependent nightmare.
RT: Like an endless dream.
LC: They get up for each other, they give each other reason to stay close together; close to humanity.
QUESTION: Speaking of codependent, the angst between Nina and George, the werewolves, is strong. At the start of the second season it’s dealt with head on. What has that been like working together?
SK: We were very lucky, from an acting point of view. Toby is a great writer, and literally it was just a gift of a scene; the scenes we had in the first episode (of the second season.) If the writing is good, you don’t even have to work on it. You work a little, but the job is reduced hugely. Thank God for Toby, he’s a great writer. Then working with that fella (looks over to Russell Tovey) is fantastic.
RT: I was thinking about thisâ€¦and you got to know your lines, basically. By that I mean, you can know your lines, and then you can know your lines. If you’ve got big scenes like that, and you know your lines? You can explore. Because if you don’t? You’ll be in the moment and go "what’s my line?" I think that’s a lot harder of a job you give yourself as an actor; especially on this (show) because the dynamic can go anywhere.
LC: I love watching Nina and George scenes, and the thing that stood out for me in episode one (second season) is that they’re listening to each other. I think with actors, especially on tv, there’s such a turnover and you do know your lines; you know your character but then sometimes you forget to listen to each other and let that motivate and move you.
QUESTION: Some fans want to know about Annie and Mitchell’s relationship. With the end of the second season leaving many questions, how complicated will their relationship be in season three?
AT: In the second (season) Mitchell has a lot of things to deal withâ€¦love and relationships wouldn’t be at the top of his list. He’s got to sort some stuff out first. He’s got to make sure his mates don’t get killedâ€¦I don’t know, maybe by the third season, you never know…
LC: I think in the end (of season two) it really hits home for all of them, just how much they need each otherâ€¦and just how much one without the other has no point. The idea of Annie passing over, George being killed, and losing Mitchell to the dark world of vampiresâ€¦it’s gone, the house (household) is gone.
AT: I think the boys, especially, realize how much they need her.
LC: But it’s complicated but complicated doesn’t mean impossible.
AT: It could work.
LC: It could work.
AT: We could make it work.