« Previous | Main | Next »

BH BLOG SPECIAL: Q&A WITH TOBY WHITHOUSE

Post categories:

Garret Keogh, Online Editor | 12:59 UK time, Tuesday, 30 June 2009

toby4.jpg

New to BH? Watch out, this post contains spoilers from series one...

 

Being Human creator Toby Whithouse has been working away on series two like a machine, going without food, water or sleep for months.  (Seriously, he looked like he'd gone ten rounds with Rocky...)  So, being the kind souls that we are here at the BH Blog, we thought we'd let him out into the daylight for a quick Q&A about series two.  Only a quick one, mind you. After all, there's writing to be done...

 

What's your writing environment like? 

I work from home, in a converted attic. I have everything I need up here. Computer, fan (not an air conditioner, I mean a little guy I keep in the bathroom who *really* likes my work), sofa (all writers will tell you the importance of the nap) and shelves heaving with books, comics, plays etc.

 

What's your average day like at the moment? 

At the moment, my time is split between meetings and writing. We're sort of at the half way point, script wise. I've finished episodes 1 and 2. The writers of episodes 3, 4 and 5 have 'gone to script' and their first drafts are starting to come in. The writer of episode 6 is about to start her script, while I've now started the script for 7; and when that's done I'll start the storyline for episode 8.

 

Is it a calm before the storm?

Yes, I guess it's the calm before the storm. We're about 6 weeks away from the start of filming. This week we start proper Pre-Production. Locations are being scouted, the various Heads of Department are sitting down, and Matt Bouch and Colin Teague (the director of episodes 1, 2 and 3) will have their first casting session.

 

Have you had 'writers block' and, if so, how do you deal with that?

I've always found the best cure for writer's block is a deadline. The blocks don't tend to come with the writing, but in the plotting. Take episode 7. We couldn't find a story for Mitchell. I was starting to panic, as we simply didn't have time to humm and hahh. But after a few meetings, a few speculative pitches, we constructed a story we were really happy with, and I could start the script. Of course there will be tiny blocks that I'll spend a few hours scratching my head over, like "How do I get him to accidentally reveal that piece of information...?" But the big scary blocks have usually happened by the time I sit down.

 

Are you nervous about revealing your ideas to the world?

It's part of the process. I constantly have to pitch ideas for stories or sequences or characters to Matt and Rob and Phil, and their reactions are essential. They're three of the smartest guys I've ever met, and they know the show inside out. Consequently if something isn't going to work, they'll tell me. Then again, it's terrific to come up with an idea that surprises or excites them. Again, episode 7 is a good example. I had an idea for a sequence and pitched it to the guys, and their response was "Oh my God, that's creepy..." Which was nice.

 

What's your process of writing like?  

The storylining process will start with me jotting down a few ideas in my notebook. These might be entire (albeit sketchy) storylines, or just a sentence. Then we meet up, divide the whiteboard into a grid. 8 episodes x 4 characters (our three main guys and 'the villains'). I'll take them through the ideas I've got and we'll write them all up on the board. It's at this point in the process I first actively consider faking my own death, because rather than the 'embarrassment of riches' I thought I had come up with, all I've managed to do is fill up three of the boxes on the whiteboard. This is also the first time that Matt tells me "It's all going to be fine." The desire to change my name and run away to sea, and Matt telling me not to worry, will have happened maybe 4 or 5 hundred times by the end of filming.

Anyway, back in the storylining room, once I've calmed down, it then becomes a question of filling the remaining boxes for each character in each episode.

Once we have a very rough arc for every episode, I'll start to flesh it out, concentrating on episode 1 first; and when we're all happy I'll start the script.

 

Do you plan the whole series before you start writing dialogue? 

To an extent I'll have the whole series mapped out in my head, though it becomes vaguer as the series goes on. On series 1, all I knew about episode 6 was Herrick had to walk into a room, the door would shut and George would step out from the shadows. In this case, for episode 7, all I knew was two of the characters had to agree to go to a specific place. And in episode 8 all I know is someone dies. Hahahahahahaha.

 

Is it a similar experience to writing series one? 

I'm hopefully writing the scripts quicker. I'm at the stage now where I can deliver a first draft in 3 weeks. I have no idea if that's fast or slow, but it's certainly faster than I used to be.

 

Has the success of series one influenced the writing of series two in ways you wouldn't expect?

It's a mixed blessing. There's a weight of responsibility. But I guess we had a taste of that on series 1 after the campaign to get the series commissioned. I don't know, maybe we're attacking it with more confidence. It's nice to know that the viewers like what we do, so even though we are throwing new things at the characters and telling different, challenging stories, we're not mending what ain't broke.

 

Are the characters behaving the way you expected or do you find them changing as you write?

The characters have evolved, so to an extent it's like writing a new show. They've been hardened by their experiences in series 1, but at the same time their friendship has become firmer. In episode 1 of series 2, one of the characters is very different to how they were in series 1. And that was interesting to write. But before anyone panics, the character soon sees the error of his or her ways...

 

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Thanks again Team and of course Toby. It is good to know that Toby also has the same crisis of confidence that the rest of us lesser mortals suffer from but I think the whole process is really interesting. Sounds as if series two is well on it's way now. Cannot wait.


    Toby...does your little guy in the bathroom have a name?? And have you spoken to a grown-up about him?

  • Comment number 2.

    Ooh that's interesting. Thanks. :) A great insight into the writing process.

    What I love about these things is that every writer is different so every interview with writers are different. :)

    lol. The little guy in the bathroom sounds cool. I wish I had a little guy in my bathroom. Or at least someone sitting behind me ready to poke me with a spork if I stop writing....

  • Comment number 3.

    C you're obsessed with sporks its a little worrying...

  • Comment number 4.

    Oh and yes the little man in the bathroom sounds erm...interesting - see this is why I love being British - over here the idea of having a little man in the bathroom who talks to you is quirky and endearing whereas if we were in America Toby would be laid on a shrinks couch talking about his childhood, his relationship with his father and his supressed fear of toilets...

  • Comment number 5.

    ''...fan (not an air conditioner, I mean a little guy I keep in the bathroom who *really* likes my work)...'' *currently still in stitches about that one

    ''...will have their first casting.'' ooh, pick me! pick me! *Hermione Granger style hands-up* (joke of course. Haven't acted since school and that was 10 yrs ago now. I got an A but that's not the point. Having said that, some of the cast and crew seem to have links to Doctors which, bless it, is one of the most wooden, unrealistic shows EVER. I'm doing an eagle. I'll shut up now.)

    P.S. Sorry eagle ;)

    P.P.S. Yayness and thank you to the Blog Team and Mr W :D

  • Comment number 6.

    I really would make a pants actress. But it'd be cool to have a whole gaggle of BH fans in the background somewhere ;)

  • Comment number 7.

    "oh my god thats creepy" im looking forward to episode 7 lol who am I kidding I'm loomking forward to it all AHHHH Im so excited!! :-D

    Also like that they've started shortening it to BH too lol doesnt make me feel so bad about ruining their lovely title :-)

    Someone acts very differnetly then sees error of their ways hmm Mitchell? I think itll be interesting to see how he reacts to Herricks death I think it'd be really unrealistic if hes completely fine with it - after all he wouldnt be here if it werent for Herrick and he did look after him etc...

    Episode 7 two characters agree to go somewhere - Toby could you be just a little more vague please lol
    Episode 8 someone dies...Toby thats just mean! Im not even gonna speculate I'll be here all day :-S

    Ok thats 3rd and last post promise...sorry Sperk I dont go on I dont I dont I dont byeeeeeeeeeee lol

  • Comment number 8.

    Ok hate to break a promise but I agree with Sperkii - a gaggle of mad BH fan in background is JUST what the show needs I'm sure lol

  • Comment number 9.

    I just let out a little bit of wee in tru George style at seeing that latest blog, and to read that *filming starts in six weeks*

    (Books train to Bristol to be part of Sperkii and Eagle_Eyes4's gaggle of mad BH fans in the background)

    I read somewhere that Annie gets a new costume in Series 2, so maybe it's Annie who changes. And I'm really worried about episodes 7 (creepy) and 8 (someone dies), but YAY at 2 extra episodes!

  • Comment number 10.

    Lol I'm quite glad they dont start shooting until mid August - we're going at the beginning and was a bit worried we might ruin the filming lol seriously dont actually think I'd dare go near a set without being invited thought for fear of looking like a complete fangirl stalker...so then blog team when do we get our invites? :-D

  • Comment number 11.

    I'm not obsessed with sporks E. They're a known writing motivate. It's a proven fact.

  • Comment number 12.

    Aren't they just the eating utensils that you get with ready made salads from tescos...

  • Comment number 13.

    No. They're a very important writing tool. Trust me. *nods knowingly*

    Plus they're helpful to defend against the stresses of life, but their main use is motivation and poking characters who won't behind.


    (whoops going slightly off topic. :/ Sorry.)

  • Comment number 14.

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

  • Comment number 15.

    *rolls eyes* The only reason you think I'm mental is because your not a nanoer eagle. If you were you'd understand.

    And I thought you already knew I was mental?

  • Comment number 16.

    eagle, c, whoever else is going...please, when you do the Gilbert dance on the hill, can you put an acknowledgement that it was my suggestion on the vid please, please, thank you? :)

  • Comment number 17.

    Mods got a thing against sporks?

  • Comment number 18.

    Obivously not theyve left your other post :-S did you read it before it went away C?

    Sperk not sure we'll be doing a video :-P theres only about 5/6 of us going now still need to dance though :-)

  • Comment number 19.

    I read your one yeah. You didn't read mine one though?

    And I was joking about the spork thing. I'm thinking they took objection to the M word?

  • Comment number 20.

    No i didnt read yours :-( yes possibly i suppose it could be seen as offensive :-S

    Sorry!

    I do love it when they give us Toby stuff - he's a very clever man :-)

  • Comment number 21.

    are you drunk tonight by any chance C? lol

  • Comment number 22.

    I just said that it's not just me who sees sporks as writing tools.


    Nope not drunk? Why? Do I seem drunk?

  • Comment number 23.

    you just keep making wierd mistakes that you dont normally so thought you might be a little out of it :-)

  • Comment number 24.

    Very important writing tool? So thats where I'm going wrong then - all these years I've been using a notebook and a pen and the laptop when really I should've been sporking my characters...you really do learn something new everyday don't you.

    *Note to self C is quite obviously off her rocker - take backup to London do NOT be alone with her at any time during the day and avoid ready made salads*

    (said i can repost it if i remove that word :-S i actually got an email from them dont normally)

  • Comment number 25.

    Awww, shame you're not doing a vid. That would have been the ultimate BH fanvid - a load of BH bloggers dancing on the hill like Gilbert and encouraging randoms to do it like in the T Mobile advert :)

  • Comment number 26.

    Well we'll see sperkii :-) certianly would be fun to make - we'll just have to see how many people we can rally together ill do my market calls in the park lol

  • Comment number 27.

    Lol. I kinda do wanna go now. But tbh I think my study doesn't permit. And I certainly know my bank balance doesn't :(

  • Comment number 28.

    Thought you finished soon? I officially finished my course today I'm so happy :-) it actually required a little gilbert dance :-)

    Reckon you should come though itll be a laugh - well maybe...if not im sure theres hundreds of pubs in bristol it can easily be fixed lol

    My bank balance doesnt know whats hit it lately years of careful saving and recently ive just kind of gone lifes too short and treated myself to about a hundred quids worth of tickets to things :-) having a great couple of months though - well worth it :-D

  • Comment number 29.

    I finish mid October. Can't wait. This module's the worst. I think it was actually devised by MI5 for interrogation purposes (they make the person study it until they crack and tell them everything they know).

  • Comment number 30.

    lol i said the same after an afternoon of singing "5 cheeky monkeys" at nursery i had it stuck in my head for 3 MONTHS! im pretty sure that could be used as a form of torture I think it actually turned me crazy

  • Comment number 31.

    Sorry 'turned you' crazy? As in you weren't before? ;)

  • Comment number 32.

    Well it was kind of a "the straw that broke the camels back" situation I think lol

  • Comment number 33.

    Weird mistakes? What weird mistakes? >.>

  • Comment number 34.

    dunno cant remember now not important just wondered thats all :-)

    we got new posters in today - one of them is for a film called land of the lost with will ferrell is that the one that aidans missus went for but was beaten to it by anna friel? i read it in an intervew i think - the name rang a bell and its been bugging me why :-( is that the one?

  • Comment number 35.

    hi you guys!
    Um i leant my computer to my flat mate & he must have been watching porn or something he didn't want me to know about? cause all my addresses & favourites have been wiped. HOW DO I GET BACK TO OUR BELOVED FORUM PAGE!!!!!! eagle bex sperkiii superochre HELP!

  • Comment number 36.

    They're probably gonna mod this but maybe you can get the link quickly before they delete it?

    https://www.youforum.co.uk/beinghuman/index.php

  • Comment number 37.

    I just saw that BBC America will have a panel at Comic Con in San Diego in a few weeks (Torchwood, Doctor Who, and BEING HUMAN), but all the tickets are sold out. Toby, Russell, Aidan, and Leonora will all be there.

    They're all coming to my state and I wasn't notified? Boo!

    When looking at the map for the shuttle buses to the event, one of the hotels is named The Bristol.

    That has to be where they're staying, doesn't it?

    Let's see...beaches, Sea World, the row of casinos (Harrah's Rincon turns their pool area into a club once night falls). Enjoy your time down here and come back often!

  • Comment number 38.

    oh wow theyre all going to the states?? you lot better not steal them theyre ours! lol really hope the show does well over there though seriously...have you seen it online yet or are you wating til it airs on your tv? (22nd july bbc america if i remember rightly)

    suzi grab the linky quickly! and never lend computers lol

  • Comment number 39.

    Thanks lil C!

  • Comment number 40.

    Pfft C just do my job for me why dont you :-P

    Lol only joking yay good to have you back suze :-)

  • Comment number 41.

    :p

  • Comment number 42.

    She asked for the link and I gave it to her. :P She may not have been online when you came on. You should be thanking me for getting her back on the forum. :P

    lol

  • Comment number 43.

    Lol i was only joking - they havent deleted your post though brill :-)

  • Comment number 44.

    Hello peeps...I've just set up an Annabel Facebook group if anyone's interested. And, in case I haven't plugged them enough already, there's a Mr W one, a Gregg Chillin one, a Herrick one and OF COURSE a Gilber/Alex Price one. Admins welcome as I don't have time to update them, only to create them.

  • Comment number 45.

    So, it's like this: I was feeling all s.. rubbish and worried. I get texts from you guys, FB mails asking after me and then I come on here and I know I'm home. Ppl asking for bit parts, sp creating fb fan pages, ee's long posts, c defending herself, vf, suzi and others. :D x

    Oh yeah and Toby thanks. I can relate a little to the pressure, I've decided to deny all knowledge instead but obviously you can't do that, although that would be funny. Who writes those questions by the way? Toby probably.

  • Comment number 46.

    Lol I was wondering that - I do think he just writes the questions that he wants to answer :-)

    Glad you're feeling better glad to have you back co...super :-D

    (and i dont do long posts anymore just lots of littler ones lol I dont think anyones noticed yet though so shhh ;-))

  • Comment number 47.

    *nods*

    Lets face it if we asked the questions it'd go something like this:

    My number is [Personal details removed by Moderator] can you give it to AT please, pretty please with sugar on top.

    I completed my GCSE drama course achieving a level C with honours. So will you let me have a bit part?

    I have an idea for series 2 which includes mermaids, wizards and succubus. What do you think?

    I like you, will you add me to FB?

    Why don't you hire an RP lookalike for a new vamp role?



    Yeah, I understand why he writes his own questions.



  • Comment number 48.

    thanks for this team its great to here from Toby

    well just glad they let you out every now and then but at lease you got company from your little fan man so that's good

    all these little bits of information that will just drive us nuts but thank you any way

    i cant believe it starts filming in 6 weeks I'm so excited and i cant wait till the meet up and don't worry sperkii ill get them dancing just you wait and see

  • Comment number 49.

    lol uh oh what did you say super? :-)

    we will dance katy...well i will - might just be me, you and the little un (just thought best not put her name on here i didnt forget lol :-)) dancing gilbert stylie in the park while the others sit watching rolling their eyes :-D

  • Comment number 50.

    EUGHHHHH.
    Now i'm even more excited XD
    aha who dies? it's making me curious... I have my thoughts with what might be in store but Toby really is making me wish the show was on tommorow :P

  • Comment number 51.

    Lmao, super #47. So true :)

  • Comment number 52.

    Am gutted I can't even see my own idea through (vid of crazy BH fans dancing Gilbert style on hill). Stupid study. Stupid bank account.

  • Comment number 53.

    pmsl. I would like to say for the record that I hit the number keys at random after 07. It was NOT my number, no number has that many digits. And I definitely don't want my number going to AT or anyone who reads the blog at any point. If you have RP's number obviously that's different.. ;)

  • Comment number 54.

    *looks through numbers in phone* rachel, ray, reece, robert...hmm wrong robert...nope no rp sorry super :-S

    Dunno what I'd ask Toby actually I dont really get star struck but I think if I ever met him I'd about manage to shove a bit of paper in his hand and maybe manage the words autograph...please and that would be about it :-S The man really is a genius - knowing me I'd do something stupid like try and hug him and end up getting done for harassment lol

  • Comment number 55.

    I'd accept a Leto or Pattinson lookalike, I'm really not fussy.

    lol ee. I can just imagine you doing that and me walking away pretending I don't know you but failing as I'm wearing a 'BH die-hard forever' tee. :D

  • Comment number 56.

    super - would you *whistle casually and wander off* ? ;D

  • Comment number 57.

    lol, you know me too well sp.

    "sofa (all writers will tell you the importance of the nap) and shelves heaving with books, comics, plays etc."
    He sounds like my brother. If he mentioned a cardboard cut out of E.T and Star Wars as well I'd be getting very suspicious.

  • Comment number 58.

    *grins*

  • Comment number 59.

    Hello from Australia where Being Human is on our national broadcast network ABC. It is becoming increasingly popular here, and for good reason. We really enjoy the show and can't wait for the next series. To Toby I say, mate, whatever you write will be accepted and ignore any criticism - either from some fans or yourself. You can't please everyone all the time, and you'll go crazy if you try. Series One was a great start and where it goes is your choice. Relax and let the words flow. Each character is well defined and has enormous potential in their own right, and also together as cohesive friends. Thanks to all involved in a great production.
    P.S. I also hope BBC can increase the budget for Being Human.

 

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.