TOBY'S BLOG: GET READY FOR SERIES 2
After months locked in his attic writing scripts for series two, the legendary creator of Being Human, Toby Whithouse, is back to answer our questions about series two.
Toby, you've spent ages writing the scripts... Is it hard to hand them over and trust the production team to bring them to life?
Frankly it's a relief. Because then it becomes their problem. Seriously, it's like handing over a crying baby after a day spent trying to feed and entertain it. Suddenly someone else has arrived and you can say "There. Take it. The little sod."
But there also comes a point when you've been so immersed in the scripts, you lose all objectivity. You start to think, "Does any of this make sense? Is it actually any good?" It's great when the directors come on board, as suddenly you have fresh pair of eyes looking at it.
When Colin Teague read the first three scripts, his reaction was really important because it articulated something that I think we all felt but hadn't put into words. What he really responded to, he said, was how the show had grown. He was struck by the breadth and ambition of the first three new scripts. "You've taken it onto a different level now". And having spent the previous Gawd-knows-how-many months living and breathing those scripts it was a great vote of confidence. It's something Colin has reflected in the shooting of those first scripts, giving them an epic, filmic quality. He's used Bristol as a canvas, and with Nic Morris our genius Director of Photography, created some incredible, breathtaking images and scenes.
How has writing series two compared to writing series one?
It was exhilarating. But I did feel an enormous weight of responsibility. It wasn't just a question of hopefully repeating the success of the first series, but building on it. However much people liked series one, if we just replicated the formula and didn't move the characters on or explore new territory, then everyone would feel shortchanged. It sounds selfish but the only way to do it is to think "Ok, if I was watching this, what would I like to see happen?"
The relationship with the fans is a complex one. A writer disregards them at his or her peril, and certainly the BH fans have been too important to the development of the show for me to ever forget them. But I can't think about them too much while writing. The voices are too contradictory. For example, half of them would like to see a romance between Annie and Mitchell, and half of them wouldn't. I love looking at the blog and watching the little community that's grown up.
As a side note, I have to say I think the BH fans are incredibly polite and well behaved and mutually supportive. When you look at fan forums for other shows that shall remain nameless (*coughs* Doctor Who *coughs*), the fans on there can get really bitchy! Whereas the BH lot are all very kind to each other.
But what I was saying was, when I'm storylining or scripting, I have to block out all external pressures and influences. Just as a tightrope walker will focus on the point ahead and not look down, I have to write the show I want to watch.
What should the audience expect from the new series?
The characters in Being Human lead dangerous lives, and so generally the tone of the second series is a little darker, a little more tense. But as soon as I say that I know some fans are going to throw their hands up in the air and say "Oh God, you're changing the show we love!" Don't worry. This is still the same show. It hasn't changed, it's evolved. Certain things Mitchell, George and Annie did in series 1 are going to come back to (pardon the pun) haunt them.
Have you been able to get on set much? If so, what has that been like?
I wish I could be on set more often. It's not always possible as, until they start shooting the last block of scripts, I'm locked in my attic writing. But when I get the chance, it's great to swan around and be important. I always let it be known to the cast that I'm "still writing", so they should make damn sure they're nice to me. Because I can kill them. Seriously. I'm like an angry God.
Sadly all the scripts are written now and consequently the quality of 'sucking up' has nose-dived.
Will you be writing any more prequels this year? If so, what can we expect?
Yes, there will be one this year, to introduce two new vampires we're adding to our ensemble. I really can't give away too much, but they were a blast to create and we found two extraordinary actors to play them.
We considered doing prequels to introduce Mr Kemp (who you saw at the very end of series1) and the mysterious Professor Jaggat - but there wasn't really a way to introduce them in the prequels without giving away all the juicy stuff we were gradually unpacking in the series proper. But I loved writing the prequels. Hopefully that same expansion of vision and ambition is reflected in this year's one.
Who is your new favourite character this year? Why do you like them and where do they appear?
Hmmm. That's a tough one. The new villains and vampires were great fun, but to be honest I found the most joy from writing our lead cast; even more this year than last. Not only has my understanding of the characters (hopefully) grown and deepened, but so has theirs. A scene between them needs next to no rehearsal because they are so in-tune with each other you just point the camera at them. There's hardly a single moment when I watch the rushes and think "Nah, they got the sense of that line wrong..." They know these characters inside out and so writing for them has become even more fun. I can throw pretty much any line at them, any convoluted thought process, any gag, and they'll nail it. I should say that Sinead is also a joy to write for. She's another one of those actors who seems physically incapable of ever being less than stunning.
Watching how these amazing actors have grown and defined these characters has made writing them as exciting and refreshing as writing four new parts.