TOBY ANSWERS YOUR SERIES TWO QUESTIONS
Last week we asked you to send your Being Human questions to the show's legendary creator, Toby Whithouse. As promised, he's been sifting through your brilliant queries and has answered a whole bunch of them, touching on everything from serial killers to set design.
Take it away, Toby...
So here we go with the answers. A lot of the questions were either about stuff that's going to be revealed in the future or about things I've already answered on the blog. If I haven't answered your question, have a spool through my previous blogs and you may find your answer there.
Ok, get comfy.
So SuperOchre asked why Lauren and other vampires were repulsed by the smell of George yet Daisy and Mitchell aren't.
Well, I think this is to do with simple prejudice. We've always maintained that vampires detest werewolves, but I think this more an attitude of mind or conditioning than an actual allergy. Mitchell is George's best friend, and I don't think Daisy can be bothered with tiresome and tacky things like casual racism.
Anglo asked how much re-writing is needed to cover the move to Wales.
It's not so much re-writing - we've always known the move would happen at the end of season 2 - it's more a question of storylining the next series with that in mind. So one of the tasks of the first episode is to establish them in their new house and jobs etc.
Dramalovely asked if I start writing with an idea of the overarching story for the whole series. For example did I know right from ep 1 of last series that George would end up killing Herrick and scratching Nina.
Yeah, I knew how the George / Herrick story would end. But the decision to have George scratch Nina was made after seeing how amazing Sinead was and how beautifully she and Russell worked together. I thought "Oh I can't get rid of *her*..."
But aside from that, the bigger arcs of the story are mapped out before I write a word of episode 1. Things evolve and change as the scripts develop, but I know all the big stuff - such as who's alive and who's dead (and, I guess who's undead).
Cieria asked if we're going to change Annie's outfit.
Well, I have no plans to. I think it raises too many questions and in a way it takes her out of the realm of being a ghost into being... something else. My feeling has always been that's she's trapped. Frozen in time, like Miss Havisham in Great Expectations. The clock stopped the moment Annie died, and her clothes always remaining the same is a good way of dramatising that.
Iain asked what me feelings were regards the SyFy Channel version.
I'm really pleased there's going to be a US version of the show. A lot of Being Human fans have already voiced misgivings about a US version, and its fair to say that UK formats have met with... mixed success when transposed to the States. But every single significant step in the life of Being Human has been either fraught or needlessly worried over. When we moved from pilot to series, the notion of recasting Mitchell, Annie and Herrick was met with wails of despair. As it turned out, all three new cast members delivered extraordinary performances and now it's impossible to imagine those parts being played by anyone else. So who knows, in a year from now, we might be rhapsodising about the US version and toasting its staggering success. Obviously I'll be sitting on my yacht, but I'll be with you in spirit.
Also, whatever happens in America, it doesn't have a backwards effect. The UK version won't be affected an iota. Expanding the Being Human world can only be a good thing. If the US version is a success it might inspire its audience to seek out the original version.
So I'm going to approach it with a completely open mind and watch it as if I were watching a brand new show with a brand new format.
Karen Hollis asked if I've been watching True Blood and how I think the vampires in that compare to the vampires in Being Human.
I love True Blood! They have a much more traditional approach to vampires - can't be seen in daylight etc. Our decision to make Mitchell 'immune' to sunlight was because otherwise a third of our lead cast wouldn't be able to do any daytime exteriors. That would have a huge effect on the production and storylining, which the makers of True Blood don't have to worry about. Partly because their budget is probably 4 times ours, but also because theirs is much more of an ensemble show, dealing with the entire community.
Celticgrace gets the prize for the best / most difficult question. "These guys are making me sympathise with a serial killer - who has preyed on young women? Does Toby see that as a problem and how does he manage that balance of sympathy and horror?"
I was tempted to ignore that one.
I think the secret is, Mitchell is full of repentance. He genuinely wants to change and has spent the last few decades trying to stay 'clean' amd redress the balance of his bad deeds verses his good. I never want the audience to condone or forgive his misdeeds, but I think he should be applauded for attempting to change. Also, that struggle is what gives Mitchell an electricity as a character and provides us with the majority of his stories.
It's not helped by Aidan, who is so absurdly seductive and charismatic that we instantly feel sympathy for Mitchell. But it is a fantastic question, and as you'll see as we approach the end of series 2 and move into series 3, it's going to become a lot more complicated. We can't ignore what he's done. But he has to be constantly moving forward as a character, as endless scenes of him lost in guilt and introspection would become very dull very quickly. I think we put off any proper exploration of sympathy regards Mitchell as long as possible, but now we're in the middle of what is, I think, the best Mitchell story ever, in which we'll really push the boundaries of our sympathy and forgiveness. My God. You wait till episode 7.
Keith asked whether we would give George the ability to change at will, not just full moon.
No, is the simple answer to that. It's the characters 'handicaps' that gives us our stories. For example: we decided really early on that the vampires *couldn't* survive on blood from blood bags. Because if they did, then what's the struggle? We lose masses of tension. It's the same with George. The more he can control his condition, the less jeopardy there is and consequently the less drama.
Frostmaiden and Indill asked why we have human bad guys in series two.
Um, that wasn't a deliberate choice. It just seemed the natural way to take it. In a way it was in partly down to Jason Watkins' extraordinary performance as Herrick. He's a tough act to follow, so we decided to go in a different direction. I think also it raises an interesting dilemma for the characters - Mitchell especially - having yearned to be part of humanity, to see them at their most craven and despicable. And there were hints of it in series 1. The way that humanity reacted to the suspicion that Mitchell was abusing Bernie. It raises interesting questions for the (mostly human) audience too. We'd like to think wed respond to the revelation of such creatures with kindness and understanding - but would we?
Hey - do you want a clue for series 3?
So in series 1 the threat was supernatural.
In series 2 the threat was human
In series 3, the threat comes from within. But is that within the group, or within the house? Mwa ha ha ha ha ha ha.
Brilliantmightyquinn asked why episodes are just numbered, when titles are so much easier.
I KNOW! I WISH we'd gone for titles. It never really occurred to us. Gah! It's too late now... We could come up with titles between us, I guess.... Hey, shall we do that? Can I choose the best one? Barry, get onto that for me...
beinghumanfan asked who decided what should be in each of the 3's rooms.
It's all down to our fantastic production designer, Mr Andrew Purcell. The man is a genius. And he makes me laugh. The beautiful rich design of this show is, I think, one of its triumphs. But it's not just a question of creating beautiful spaces for the actors to play in, Andrew really understands the characters - as does Stuart Meachum, the costume designer. I'd like to say it's me standing over them saying "Oh yes, George would have dwarves on his wallpaper..." or "Mitchell would wear that hat" but it isn't. It's them.
Stephen Collings had a concern about the trio being clueless about Nina's scratching. Well, as you'll remember from the very first scene, one of the major tensions between George and Nina is the lack of a 'physical' relationship. I think Nina will have been keeping herself at arm's length from George from the end of series 1, making sure he never sees her dressing or anything like that. Bear in mind it's only about 27 days since the end of the last series, so it's not like she's been keeping herself 'hidden' from George for years and years. As for the others, they've not really spent much time with Nina, so it's hard for them to say what's in or out of character. But rather than it being an oversight on our part, the distance Nina is maintaining from George is one of the things that propels him into his bad behaviour in episode 1.
Notaviking wanted to know if Buffy and Angel were shows that inspired me in creating and writing Being Human.
Ok, confession time. I have never in my life seen an episode of Buffy or Angel. This isn't deliberate, it's just something that kinda... passed me by. The world and his uncle have told me how much I'd like it and how Being Human has echoes in terms of tone and humour. I'd love to see it... I just haven't yet. In fact, my lack of knowledge is apparent in ep 1 when I mistakenly ascribe a werewolf called Nina to Buffy instead of Angel. Thankfully about 67 people were kind enough to point out the mistake I made on national TV.
Ewan asked what my favourite Vampire-ghost-werewolf TV shows are.
Now that is my favourite question! Gawd, where to start...?
Ok, in the spirit of BBC compliance I should point out that these are personal choices and other werewolf-vampire-ghost books are available...
Let the Right On In - glorious Swedish vampire book, made into a fantastic film.
Bareback, by Kit Whitfield. Fantastic werewolf book.
Salem's Lot by Stephen King, and the graphic novel of the first book of 30 Days of Night is well worth a read.
And even though they're not strictly speaking anything to do with werewolves, vampires or ghosts, I think i should mention Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke, and American Gods by Neil Gaiman.
Films... well, American Werewolf is clearly an influence.
Oh, and the TV series Ultraviolet by Joe Aherne.
Right, that's your lot. I'm going to have a lie down.
If you've got a new question you'd like Toby to answer, leave it in the comments section below and we'll bribe him to answer a few more. A Kate Bush cassette should do the trick...