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
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    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
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    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
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    Comment number 3.

    Ray Bradbury's Martian Chronicles anyone?

  • rate this
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    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
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    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.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 6.

    I was hugely disappointed with Outcasts. The only limit for stories should be the writer's imagination, which was largely absent. It played like an episode of Eastenders. Hermoine Norris was Ros from Spooks: cool, detached, uninspiring. I didn't believe she had been on Carpathia for years. Her make up and hair were from a West End salon. The landscape was as flat as the acting. I wanted to be pulled into another world but there are no rules in that world.

    Characters wandered into rooms, delivered cliched dialogue and wandered out again. The exposition was contrived, especially the president's speech and the mawkish applause - which we were told about when we could already hear it.

    This is very lazy writing.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 7.

    How sad that this is not a one off programme. I managed about 10 minutes of this episode before looking else where for something more interesting and believable.
    Appart from 'Spooks' this is about the weakest drama I have attempted to watch.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 8.

    I know this is a bit unorthodox but I've decided to post the entire script online.

    Ship's Captain: Are there any human beings down there?
    Planet: Erm... what other English speakers were you expecting?

    Middle Class Kid: Oh poetry, oh poetry, why must the other boys keep kicking me?

    Angry Scottish Bird: You were stealing medical supplies
    Irish Druggie: Well if you didn't want a drug dealer on Carpathia why did you bring me along?

    Cougar woman: With this device I can see your memories
    Irish Druggie: How does it work?
    Cougar woman: Well, with you it shows your memories in first person, but with me it shows them in the third person
    Irish Druggie: O...kay....

    Angry Scottish Bird: This woman has been hit on the head. Hard. Take her to Holby City immediately.

    Gun Totting Mad Man: Got to get away!
    Big Guy: It's not time
    Gun Totting Mad Man: Got to get away!
    Big Guy: It's not time
    Gun Totting Mad Man: Got to get away!
    Big Guy: Why?
    Gun Totting Mad Man: Dunno

    Cougar woman: Fancy a shag?
    Irish Druggie: I haven't had my beer yet

    Angry Scottish Bird: I'm shouting in your face!
    Big Guy: Why?
    Angry Scottish Bird: To show how tough I am
    Big Guy: That's not fair when all have is my hugely superior physique and rifle to protect me

    Ship's Captain: We've travelled through space for 5 years and we're coming down
    President: Fix your shields first or you'll explode
    Ship's Captain: No time for that, we're want to get down before the tea gets cold
    President: Well... don't say I didn't warn you!

    Gun Totting Mad Man: I'm away and I'm taking my softie son with me
    Angry Scottish Bird: A MAN? Taking care of a CHILD? Wait till the Family Court hears about this!

    Gun Totting Mad Man: You've been a naughty boy
    President: I have been a naughty boy but trust me, I'm a politician and the state knows best

    President: Go after that crazy gun totting guy!
    Scruffy lower class person: Who, should I take? The big guy with the muscles and the gun?
    President: No, take the loud Scottish girl. She'll be handy.

    Boring person 1: Hey, did you see that thing that just happened?
    Boring person 2: Yes I did
    Boring person 1: Well, let me just tell you about it anyway. Nothing makes events you've already witnessed more interesting than hearing about them in long segments of exposition. Wouldn't you agree?
    Boring person 2: Sorry, could you repeat that?

    President: We decided to call this planet Carpathia. I can't remember the whole story but I think if they'd had more life boats...
    Ship's Captain: We don't have enough life boats!
    President: If only the planet namers had spoken to the ship designers...

    Gun Totting Mad Man: Do you really think human beings can make a better life for our children?
    Angry Scottish Bird: Human beings?
    Gun Totting Mad Man: Yeah, you know... US
    Angry Scottish Bird: So why didn't you just say "WE"? Why can't we make a better life for our children?

    *silence*

    Gun Totting Mad Man: I know I'm the main character here but how about you just kill me now?

    *Bang* *Explosion* *Poetry*

    The End

  • rate this
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    Comment number 9.

    This show is really appalling...and I mean REALLY appalling. If the Beeb want to entertain us cheaply for an hour or two at the beginning of the week, please give us a replay of Blakes 7 - in its day, 1978-1981 it managed about 52 episodes! Or make a series which is quite brilliant - you know you can do it - Sherlock Holmes is a masterpiece. Please do not waste your resources and our intelligence on a humdrum, ill thought-out, ill-matching collection of 'actors' and 'dialogue' -(they looked like they were reading from storyboards - mais non!)
    Heigh-ho...

  • rate this
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    Comment number 10.

    So, it takes 5 years to get to Carpathia... is that ship time, or planet time? Does the writer even know that there's a difference? (It's relativistic time dilation.) So how far away is the parent star? It must be at least four and a half light years. Also, why all the obviously Earth vegetation? Why no alien flyers in this lovely dense oxygen-rich atmosphere? No animals? Not realistic, is it? What a disappointment. Yet another SF series with appallingly bad science. It matters, you know!

  • rate this
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    Comment number 11.

    A very good start! A religious mystic who will no doubt attempt to turn Carpathia into a religious state, a baby whom he would abhor as a product of man's playing at god and the outcasts themselves who could be the salvation or death of the new civilisation (ok; its a bit like DUNE!!!)

  • rate this
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    Comment number 12.

    Oh dear

    well there is one good thing it can't get worse!!!

    however there is something quite enjoyable about watching something you can pick so may holes in. So I am in a strange way looking forward to the next episode and it leaves me to believe that even with my very limitted writing skills it may be worth applying for a job as a script writer, the bbc must be desperate.



  • rate this
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    Comment number 13.

    Do I understand that the BBC have spent 4 years and many EARTH pounds producing this pile of rubbish ? I sat through the first episode yesterday and and prayed that it just had to get better as the story progressed... but NO.. episode 2 was worse. The utterly unplausable characters would NOT have been the first dispatched to a new world (having bizzarly the very same vegetation, sun and oxygen as our earth) which was only 5 years travel away from earth, this would be the same distance as Mars and back. Hey, lets send drug dealers and gun toting psychopaths on the first ship to prepare the ground before the second wave of idiots who can think of only themselves.
    The script writers should have done a little research before shoveling out this drivel. NASA have whole departments working on new world senarios, just one afternoon with them would have improved the realism of the setting ten fold. The BBC executives should be ashamed of this output, it had me reaching for the off switch before episode 2 was half way through. It fails on so many levels that I can't bring myself to type any more. Disgusted.

  • Comment number 14.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 15.

    Blakes 7 on mogadons....this is poor..poor ..and poor, please bbc you can do better then this.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 16.

    At the end of the 2nd episode tonight and at watching next week's preview, I thought 'Oh god, not again' - man travelling half way across the universe and still the same power struggles, murder, revenge. Very formulaic and what we've seen time and time again - different place, same themes. I'm afraid I won't be watching it again next week.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 17.

    I am surprised that people here take tv so seriously! Lighten up, chill out and stop picking holes. It is entertainment not a serious science programme.

    Just take it for what it is and enjoy - remember, it could be taken off air and something really awful be put in its place - like X factor or Big Brother or some other such total rubbish!

    I liked it because it made me think about the pioneering spirit of people and how adaptable we are to changes. The actors were not wooden, the environment is ok, no animals - well maybe there are some but not in that area - just wait and see how the drama unfolds ... you may get answers, and then again you may not!

    Thats all the fun of a story, whether it is on TV, radio or other medium.

    So enjoy it for what it is, not for what it isn't.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 18.

    Too awful to bear, this is just a poorly made soap. I watched episode 1 last night and my heart sank, but I thought 'give it a chance, great series often start off poorly', but I gave up after about 45 minutes this evening, and deleted it from my recording list. And this is such a shame - the location is beautiful and credible, there are some good actors on the show, and the premise has tons of mileage in it. But there's no plot or purpose, the script is utterly fatuous, and my 6 year-old daughters cardboard dress up dollies have more depth than any of the characters. It's even worse than Survivors and that was bad enough.

    A note to the producer/writer: for the first time in years our office has been buzzing with a 'did you see...' conversation this week. With so many channels it's very rare for that to happen these days. The programme in question is 'The Killing'. No one has even mentioned Outcasts. But they don't talk about Eastenders either.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 19.

    Oh so sad. For those of us who like SF, and who know how good it CAN be, it's such a shame to see waste resources on this scale. Oh dear.
    Problem is it's not quite bad enough to be good. I watched episode 2 just because I couldn't believe how bad episode 1 was.
    Where was this filmed? Looks like Wales. Things must have been pretty bad on Earth then if people had to risk their lives to get there!

  • rate this
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    Comment number 20.

    Morally repugnant. So far in the first two episodes 9 of the 10 main characters have either committed murder, attempted murder or conspired in murder. This is not an exaggeration. Of the one main character who has not, he engages in casual sex and takes drugs.

    "..the world view is never cynical or wilfully pessimistic....ultimately, it is a show about hope and human dignity."

    If Ben Richards (presumably the writer) truly thinks that, then he must be an undiagnosed psychopath.

    Absolutely disgusting.




 

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