The inspiration behind Outcasts

Monday 7 February 2011, 15:17

Ben Richards Ben Richards Writer

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"Look at the pig!" I shouted to my wife as she came in, while I was watching rushes of Outcasts early on in the shoot. "It's a real piglet."

As if to prove the point, the pig farted, squealed and peed on the floor of the set.

"Cut!" shouted Bharat Nalluri, the director, a little wearily.

Danny Mays - playing Cass Cromwell - giggled. And I smiled.

Pigs In Space: The porcine inspiration and driving creative imperative behind all those long and lonely nights working on the scripts.

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They weren't of course. The inspiration behind Outcasts was the desire to tell a pioneer story, and the only place you can do that really now is in space.

I wanted to explore second chances, most fundamentally whether humanity is genetically hardwired to make the same mistakes again and again.

The stories that kickstart the series are intense, and hopefully moving, but the world view is never cynical or wilfully pessimistic.

Part of my inspiration was to write against the kind of world view developed by William Golding in Lord Of The Flies, and the planet of Carpathia is not a dystopia - it is named after a rescue ship.

It would be silly to think that a pioneer community wouldn't have all kinds of conflicts and problems - the drama lies precisely in those political and emotional challenges.

But ultimately, it is a show about hope and human dignity.

Ashley Walters as Jack Holt and Hermione Norris as Stella Isen

It is about one of the most attractive aspects of our species - our ability to think morally, to empathise with the suffering of others, to sacrifice self-interest for our loved ones or even people we don't know.

One of the most enjoyable aspects of any new show is meeting actors I have not worked with before.

I knew Hermione Norris from Spooks, where I had loved writing her character of Ros Myers.

But I hadn't worked with any of the others and they brought an energy and enthusiasm, which I really think shines through in the show.

I particularly love the dynamic between Cass and Fleur, played so beautifully by Amy Manson and Danny Mays.

But all the actors brought something special to their parts.

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I always have lots of favourite scenes, such as Jack (played by Ashley Walters) and Cass bound together and bantering in episode two, and the conflicts between Tate (Liam Cunningham) and Berger (played by Ugly Betty's Eric Mabius).

Then there's Tipper remembering his dead sisters, Stella's face as the transporter in episode one nears the end of its journey, and Cass and Fleur's agonising last scene together in the final episode.

But it is the piglet, of course, that wins by a snout.

Snatched from the barbecue coals by Protection And Security (PAS) officer Cass Cromwell - an image of survival against the odds that lies at the heart of our show.

Ben Richards is the writer of Outcasts.

Outcasts starts on BBC One and BBC One HD at 9pm on Monday, 7 February.

For further programme times, please see the upcoming episodes page.

You can follow updates from @BBC Outcasts on Twitter, and also share your thoughts on the show with the production team on the BBC Outcasts Facebook page.

Comments made by writers on the BBC TV blog are their own opinions and not necessarily those of the BBC.

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  • rate this

    Comment number 1.

    Really enjoyed the first episode tonight. Funny though that the SA80 was used as the rifle. A weapon designed in the late 50's and due to go out of service in the 2020's. Not my idea of futuristic! Other than that a nice change from cop dramas and period pieces. Just wish the BBC had commisioned series 3 of Survivors.

  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    That was an absolutely awful programme. Leaving aside what it was supposed to be about, the delivery was terrible: wooden acting, a stilted script, poor timing (and very, very rushed) and a rather cynical use of violence to try and inject some interest into the story whenever it started to flag. None of the characters was convincing and the shallowness of the "action" (argument ensues: someone gets shot) made the whole thing appear ludicrous.
    I'm sorry I watched this. I won't make that mistake again

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    Ray Bradbury's Martian Chronicles anyone?

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    what a huge disappointment Outcast was, amateurish acting, terrible dialogue and stilted acting. Cant believe this series will continue and Lark Rise to Camelford will no longer be screened. What was funny, was the wonderful equipment and home furnishings and how it was never explained how all this was brought to what likes a planet with no 'factories'. Really improbable rubbish, and really does not come up to the usual standard of the BBC. It was a waste of Hermione Norris's acting abilities.

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    I didn't expect much and I wasn't disappointed. This is the sort of tripe that used to be on at around 6.30pm called 'Star Trek'. That was bad enough and this is a poor copy. The plot was improbable and the acting was wooden at best - it felt like a first rehearsal.

    Poor old Hermione Norris must be hard up to get involved in this, she looked permanently puzzled. No wonder. Still, if she hadn't been it it I wouldn't have even bothered to watch it. I shan't be watching any more.


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