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Garret Keogh, Online Editor | 16:10 UK time, Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Toby Whithouse Being Human creator

Toby Whithouse, creator of Being Human, returns to answer your questions and shine more light on the BH world. Don't forget to come back tomorrow for the third and final installment...

Dorina wrote: Why did you lose your beard?

Finally a serious question. The beard comes and goes. That pic at the top of this page was taken in those dark dark days before I started experimenting with facial hair. Sometimes it's thick and lustrous enough to loose a badger in, but at the moment it's no more than a heavy dusting of stubble. Don't worry the beard will be back, and then we shall...

Is anyone still reading this?

Ok, Sarah; VampGhostFan; superawesomeme; Jac_E and Lee T, I'm going to try to answer all your questions together in a big splurge of words and charm...

We never really know from one series to another who's going to come back, so the storylining has to be pretty fluid. Another factor is, I'll still be writing episodes 7 & 8 when we're filming episodes 1 & 2. Now this can be scary at times - there are a LOT of people relying on me delivering those scripts - but it means you can respond to things you notice in the filming. The best example of that is Sinead. As I've explained on here before, I was going to write her out of series 1, but she was so fantastic that I decided to keep her, and now she's a permanent fixture.

But it doesn't necessarily have to be as major as that. Watching the rushes every day of the previous day's filming gives me an insight into the specific strengths of the cast. As a result, I can tweak lines, tweak gags to suit their delivery / speech patterns. I should point out this is often done on a subconscious level, and hopefully by now I've got to the point where I can just write the dialogue IN their voices without thinking about it too much. Regarding a Mitchell / Annie relationship - I refer you to my earlier answer - WAIT AND SEE. But yeah, they do have a fantastic chemistry and I'd be nuts not to exploit that in some way. But it's something that's evolved over time and certainly at the beginning there weren't any plans to bring them together. It's quite amazing how much of what we devise / write, is a response to what we see on screen.

Which brings me onto how we storyline.

Towards the end of the year, me and Phil T and Laura will lock ourselves in a room with a blindingly empty white board and just talk and talk and talk. "What about a story where Blah happens?" "Nah, too much like episode blah. Hey, what if Blah kills Blah?" "Hmmm. I dunno. Too dark, maybe." On and on and on and on for weeks, until gradually stories start to take shape. I wish I could take sole credit, I really do. But the stories you watch are very much a joint effort. I'll come up with something. Phil will add something to that. Then Laura. Then I'll add something else. Then Laura. Then Phil. Until we find ourselves miles away from where we began, with a story that none of us could have come up with on our own. It's collaborative writing at its best. I guess I have the power of veto, but aside from that it's very much a group effort and I find it utterly exhilarating.

RetroAmour wrote: Out of all your 'Being Human' characters, who do you think is the most 'human' and why?

What a lovely question. Hmmmm, I think it's Annie. She seems to be the one who has emerged from all the stories with the least damage to her essential spirit. If that makes sense. She will always look for the good in other people, she has a limitless capacity for mercy and decency, and in many ways is the most honourable of all the characters. Though to be fair I think this is in no small part down to Lenora's extraordinary performance.

Fitzov wrote: Have you ever taken your characters to such dark places you've worried the fans would never love them or laugh with them again? Obviously I'm thinking of Mitchell's rampage on the Box Tunnel 20.

Certainly storylining the Box Tunnel Massacre was a risk, because you're right, it's difficult to welcome someone back into our hearts after such a dark deed. But sometimes you have to obey the logic of a story regardless of what it does to our sympathy for the character.

I've always said the ambition of the show is make it as realistic as possible. I know that sounds peculiar when we're discussing vampires, ghosts and werewolves, but that's always been the intention. With Mitchell it just felt inevitable that sooner or later he'd fall off the wagon. It also adds danger to the character and - I hope - a sense of exhilaration to the storytelling, because it means we're off the map. If one of the main characters can do that, then absolutely anything can happen. Mitchell has to be lethal, otherwise there's no point in making him a vampire.

But yeah, it was a huge decision because nothing could ever be the same again. It was a kind of Year Dot in character terms. In terms of rebuilding our sympathy for him, well, that has to start with him taking responsibility, followed by some kind of consequence and perhaps punishment. And that's the story of the Wolf Shaped Bullet.


  • Comment number 1.

    Oh thank you for another great round of Q&A, can't wait for tomorrow's lot!

  • Comment number 2.

    I love it when questions are answered :D. Really interested in finding out about the Wolf Shaped Bullet and how the household will react when the Box Tunnel 20 is revealed. Sort of dreading it all at the same time though lol

  • Comment number 3.

    So interesting getting an insight into how the magic happens!

    Thanks for taking the time to talk to us, Mr W.

  • Comment number 4.

    Ohh I forgot to say how there are always moments in this program where you just go "I would so do that" or "I would react the same" sort of thing. My sister and I are always saying how realistic is it, considering it's a supernatural program...okay I'm waffling here :S

  • Comment number 5.

    Cooool, I still love Mitchell still my fave charater.
    No matter what he does hes a Vampire what did u expect, Edward Cullen the fairy.

  • Comment number 6.

    What a beauty! Who else would take time out to answer the questions of creepy fanatics like ourselves? And lets face it - we are a teensy bit obssessive! Thank you Lord for engaging with us so often. Not just you but the whole Being Human team, Mr P especially. XX

  • Comment number 7.

    4 - I know what you mean. They're all just so very...human *grin* But I do love it, even in non-supernatural shows the characters often act so out of character in certain circumstances, or just act 'super-human'. Brave and self-sacrificing for each other as they are, the BH lot have flaws aplenty and are never too 'all-powerful' to scream and go hide in the face of mild peril *grin*

    Ramble over ;)

  • Comment number 8.

    Ever notest that in Series 3 Episode 2 theres a porter/cleaner who looks like barry pilling walkin past Nina when she has to sign summit while she and George are chasing Adam.

  • Comment number 9.

    I feel strangely honoured that my question was answered, lol. Seriously though, it's nice that he takes the time to do this sort of thing.

    Thank you, Toby! :D

  • Comment number 10.

    Thanks for taking the time to do this. A glimpse into the creative process is just fascinating for desperately non-creative folk like me.

  • Comment number 11.

    The doctor at the begining of Type 4 is the man who is siting in the car who gives George a funny look when hes having his outbursts.

  • Comment number 12.

    Interesting to hear Toby talk about rebuilding our sympathy for Mitchell after the Box Tunnel - problem is with Aidan/Mitchell's charisma and our investment in him as a character - it's worryingly easy to forgive him. So this series he's gone very quickly into the humorous scenes (which are making a welcome return) -and we all accept it. And Annie forgives him in a heartbeat - like us. So where's his journey from there? I guess there's still the men with ropes - they haven't forgiven him yet? As Toby says - exhilarating problems. Wish there were 13 eps!

  • Comment number 13.

    I completely agree with him about the importance if realistic storyines. I'm always telling my friends that the aim I'd any fantasy book, film or tv series is to convince the veiwer that the story is true ( because usually quite unrealistic things happen in the story). And I am so glad to hear Toby agree with me!! That's why I comeoleteky gave up on vampire diaries, its very unrealistic haha xxx

  • Comment number 14.

    Or off the wagon, into the gutter, down the storm drain, and out to sea, as the case may be!

    Still utterly floored by that risk, and fascinating by how it's paying off. That said, I'm loving this season's balance thus far IMMENSELY, and hoping it stays that way. Unlike with some shows, I think they've actually learned how much they need each other, and have a bit of faith that they won't make those same isolating mistakes again...

  • Comment number 15.

    ooohhh! Now im really curious to how the wolf shaped bullet is a punishment to mitchell! if its a punishment he doesnt have to die right???

  • Comment number 16.

    Yhhh fine punish him but please dont kill him.

  • Comment number 17.

    14 - I like to think that was the point of the latter episodes of season 2, to show both us, the audience, and the characters themselves how much they need one another to be 'human'

    15 - And that does encourage some hope. Of course it could just be a punishment in the form of 'you got your friends back, you got a nice romance going and now you're being taken away from it all when things were finally going right for once', but I'm hoping otherwise ^_^

  • Comment number 18.

    In the words of Take That
    *Its like a bullet to the head its an sos"

  • Comment number 19.

    - Mitchell has to be lethal otherwise there's no point in making him a vampire -
    Thank goodness for Toby W! The sense of jeopardy IS exhilarating, and not just for vampires, remember George in the school, I could believe a massacre #2 was on the cards. So hard to pull off, so brilliant when it works this well!
    Still hoping the wolf shaped bullet might prove to be redemptive, but how great that Toby is still finding little ways to tease us, even in his answers!

  • Comment number 20.

    It's a shame there will only be three installments of questions - it's really fascinating to hear the Lord W's answers! :)

    Thanks for this BHProd! :D

  • Comment number 21.

    Would be better if it was a video post.

  • Comment number 22.

    Great answers from Lord Toby there the reasons for the dark and the fact they fit was well made. When such events happen they humble people.

    Looking at it you could point out how the staying clean is the reason He doesn't kill. Any killing is opening the gates to his addition, part of me thinks the reason he hates it so much is because part of him likes it as it reminds him of when he used to just feed and kill.

  • Comment number 23.

    Thankyou for answering more of our weird and wonderful questions Lord Toby! Thankyou Barry for sifting through them all.

    I've already forgiven Mitchell by the way....it's not difficult!

  • Comment number 24.

    Not many bloggers

  • Comment number 25.

    Dorina, you lucky lady!

    As always thanks Toby for the elightening answers.. at times like this I feel sorry for my self that I didn't got to pose a question myself.

  • Comment number 26.

    12-I don't think the only reason we forgive Mitchell is because most of us find Aidan so delicious. We know Mitchell is an addict he has to work extremely hard to stay on the wagon and there are triggers to push him off said wagon.

    It's no excuse but the so called real humans were acting like monsters and he couldn't see the point in trying to be human when they were so awful. The blasted/killed a building filled with vampires who were clean or trying to be clean. He was using the old "eye for an eye" to justify giving in to his demon. Having Daisy along wasn't much help either.

    We who have forgiven him or not condemned him have done so because we know it's killing him. We do want him to tell George and Annie, though we know that will bring him more pain. At least he can let go of the guilt.

    As the Lord Whithouse has stated. Mitchell is a Vampire. So he is bad. We knew this from day one. We knew he is no Edward Cullen (thank the stars!)

    Gosh I prattled on, hope there's a morsel of sense in there somewhere.

  • Comment number 27.

    Oh lovely answers! Thanks for taking the time to answer them!

  • Comment number 28.

    Yay, more answers! Thank you again Lord Toby! =D

    Really interesting to read about the storylining process - BH is so marvellous at creating a certain situation, and then imagining how it would realistically unfold within the context of the show. (Eg. a depressed zombie = take her for a girls' night out = makeover with polyfilla ... genius and so bizarrely true to life!)

    Also interesting to read about Mitchell. It is true that we're prepared to forgive him - not because of AT's looks but because we genuinely love all these characters, we're on "their side" almost, we want them to succeed in being human. But he definitely does need to take responsibility and I hope he does so and accepts his fate with honour. (And comes back for more seasons!! *fingers so very very crossed*)


  • Comment number 29.

    Excellent replies from Lord Toby there! Just something to throw into the mix here…

    If Mitchell is going to die by a werewolf, my gut feeling suggests it will be some kind of sacrifice to save George or Nina. That would be in keeping with the sub theme this season of the threat, 'coming from within' (unless it's to do with the other housemates they keep picking up!!), and also to atone for the massive guilt from the underground murders.

    Also just looking at it from an acting point of view, Aidan is out in NZ at the moment working on a hobbity film, and I suspect he'll be out there for some months. Please correct me if I'm wrong, but I suspect that the filming schedule for the next series of Being Human (if there is a Season 4, and I hope there is - it's one of the few series I feel my license fee is actually worth paying for) is over the summer months, so he wouldn't be able to make it back for it?… could this suggest a major end for his character in the current series?

    I hope not, but either way, I'm loving the storylines the series is embracing, episode 3 was one of the best I have seen so far!! Brilliant!

    Also there's so many other loose ends to resolve - Those kinky vampires in episode 2 and their potential vengeance, Herrick's return at the end of last season, the 'medicals' being carried out on the (or making) zombies, the other two werewolves in the forest (and who teaches 'em all the chicken on a string trick?), and finally I wonder how long the 'long game' is that the spirits are playing… and what is the purpose of that game…

    All good stuff!!

  • Comment number 30.

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

  • Comment number 31.

    57. previous blog Deathrattle- "Push along doggy toy that changes into a wolf to protect the baby/child" Love the Legend of Gelert (I'm a Sucker for Sad doggy tales, poor olde dogs often take the blame for others foul deeds ), hope your hunch is right, good tale anyway! Thanks!
    Previous blog (tobys answers Part1) someone was trying to figure our was was on the head of the bed... It looks to me like a small doll(possibly headless) or cuddly toy; the picture could show the awsome foursome (minus Mitchell of course)
    Also from Ep3; I was kind of sad to see Graham turn to dust (he had comedic potential with his Bristol accent), but laffed when vincent went the same way, funny you can feel sorry for a potential mass murderer that Graham was.
    Still on Vampires: are there sort of class divisions? With Richard and Emma being such snobs, would they assosciate with Vincents olde gang? (or was there snobbery just aimed at Wolves?)
    Will Richard end up in battle with the Mcnairs

    What did it say on Sashas door? …
    Why is it always chicken on rope? (tescos 2 for a fiver- Would Hugh FW approve?) Whats wrong with some good olde beef or porky worky?

  • Comment number 32.

    I was thinking that he might be gone for more than a few months as there are two Hobbit films. (I don't know if they're doing them both at once though like The LotR films.) Then I realised a large chunk of the Hobbit story will likely be stuff that happens 'off-page' as it were in which his character wouldn't feature... so maybe he'll be back.

    I wouldn't be surprised if the wolf shaped bullet wasn't written in because of his Hobbit commitments though. Just bear in mind, we know from Herrick that even if he does die (again) that doesn't mean he won't have a way back...

    I didn't get my questions answered concerning vampire dusting. Never mind. It might have come across a bit nitpicky. Or the answer might come later.

  • Comment number 33.

    32-I think Aidan said that they'll be filming The Hobbit(s) till midway thru 2012 but they get 6 weeks off so maybe they can work something out. In an interview.

    I'm holding on to that hope..lol

  • Comment number 34.

    We know that dead doesnt really mean dead in Being Human world so even if the unthinkable does happen to Mitchell, it may not be the end. Also (and I know I'm in the minority here)would Mitchell need to be in every episode of a new series? If it meant we got a series 4 I'd be up for that.

  • Comment number 35.

    Dear Toby. Thank you for answering my question - what a lovely surprise after a very long day!

    I do think the box tunnel massacre has added a real sense of danger and edginess over the previous series, and I'm anxious for the outcome. Not just for Mitchell, but for Annie who's fate is so intertwined with his, and for George too who, if he is the 'wolf shaped bullet', will presumably face some major issues ahead in order to 'complete his journey' as foreseen by Lea.

    That said, it's as easy as ever to love and laugh with the characters and I'm relieved about that. Sasha waking up with a hangover and Annie's reaction has made me laugh out loud each time I've watched it. Brilliant scriptwriting, brilliant production and brilliant acting. Congratulations all of you. This has been the most enjoyable piece of TV for many years.

  • Comment number 36.

    Some really intriguing answers this time :) It's so interesting that you write the stories in such a manner. Usually when you think of a writer writing these things, you think of a single person locked away in a dark room for hours and hours. The collaboration is an interesting idea, and from the quality of the writing for Being Human, it works very well. The fact that it's so neatly plotted (in series 1 and 3 particularly) is probably down to the fact that the final scripts aren't written before 1&2's shooting. I can imagine it's so much easier to write once the actual characters and chemistry on screen has been displayed to you...

    Also... Mitchell is worryingly easy to forgive. The Box Tunnel 20 was shocking intially, but it wasn't enough to put me off him. After all, he's slipped up majorly only once or twice in 2 and a bit series, it kinda cancels itself out.

  • Comment number 37.

    thought i would throw in my two penny's worth on the Mitchell / Box tunnel thing. i think it is all about balance Mitchell does something bad but then we see him regret it or do something very 'human' (think about josie) plus we had already had 2 series to develop empathy and affection for the character while he was trying to fight the addiction before we saw him fall off the wagon so spectacularly!!!
    Must admit love reading Toby's answers they make me happy!!! im glad the group writing works so well for the BH team I had to do that for a module last semester and found it a nightmare, too many opinions!!!

  • Comment number 38.

    I found these answers really interesting especially the organic nature of the script writing. The ability of the scriptwriter to respond to situations and performances of the actors in later episodes allows for the greater exploitation of what the actors bring to the table in terms of character interpretation. I am particularly looking forward to seeing how Robson Green plays his werewolf character. I suppose that is the delight of this kind of TV series script writing when the whole series scripts are not cut and dried.
    I am also interested in the answers about not introducing other supernatural creatures into the series if it is not justified as part of the consistent Being Human take on how the journey works. It strikes me that there is a kind of big brush stroke theology operating sometimes..the characters all refer to purgatory ( a very Catholic phenomenon ) as a sort of given state that people enter and pass through , although as Lia pointed out each person's journey there is unique just as each door is unique. There are also themes of redemption, absolution and forgiveness and salvation from the things that torment them. George even sacrificed himself for those he loved in Series 2 . As far as we know Herrick was and still is the only person he has ever killed when transformed and even though Herrick was a vampire of fairly nasty proportions on the killing stakes ..no pun intended...George still had to live with the knowledge of tearing someone apart but then in a strange paradox this not only proved his humanity but the basis on which his friendship with Mitchell has grown even deeper. In many ways the relationship between Mitchell and George is for me is the really important one in terms of their individual take on coping with retaining their humanity, George I tend to think would have far more trouble than Annie forgiving Michell for Box Tunnel because the taking of a life is against every thing he hangs onto to be human .Of course Mitchell like a modern day Orpheus does into the dark to bring back Eurydice and unlike the myth he succeeds. The Box Tunnel is really the long dark night of the soul for Mitchell and for his friends , can he be redeemed through love..who knows. I have also noted that when vampires die no door opens for them,so is this an indication that they have no soul and perhpas that is really what Mitchell's journey is all about regaining his soul and is a vampire with a soul a contradiction in terms.It strikes me that should he actually become fully human ( in the full sense of the word) this would end his torment and his yearning for the power that it gives him but it would actually separate him forever from Annie ( normals can't even see ghosts let alone love them) and he would grow old . I suppose in the end it is the old adage about characters in fiction appealing to readers/watchers through the way they deal with problems rather than their ultimate solution ( think it was Hemingway who said that in afar more eloquent way of course). The use of the word Being in the title seems significant as it suggests something ongoing and continuous rather than a goal arrived at. And of course the comedy along the road just make it even more engaging, angst and laughter are always a killer combination. Looking forward to the rest of the series.

  • Comment number 39.

    Wonderful answers, not too much detail, just right. I'm still curious about what happened to Kemp and why we didn't see him trying to escape when Mitchell went to get Annie, has he taken control down there and enjoying the power and making the rules???

  • Comment number 40.

    Thank you so much for responding to our questions, Toby!

    I absolutely agree that Aidan/Lenora have amazing chemistry together. Plus, the character Mitchell/Annie have such a unique bond and connection.

    As a huge Mitchell/Annie fan, I'm truly enjoying series 3 so much right now. Each episode is extra special with their blossoming romance! And I'm so very glad that you've decided to write a romance for them. So thank you for that!

  • Comment number 41.

    Love, love, love the answers from Lord Toby. But my burning question is if, when, and how we'll find out if there's going to be a series 4?

  • Comment number 42.

    Today is Thursday that means two things this week.

    Most importantly the third blog of Answers By Lord Toby for us to read digest and debate.

    A second thing is Thursday is normally preview clip day - whether this is the case today? as I checked there are just two songs mentioned

    One a 2 year old piece from Ministry of sound
    Leonid Rudenko — Everybody

    but the other
    Stephen Wheel — Lulu Mae

    I couldn't find I only found two of his songs on YT
    and his bio
    Cardiff singer - debates on where these different musical choices will be played will follow but my guess. - could be very wrong here

    Everybody - not a house scene from the clips the yellow line on the wall I think the swimming pool - the place the vampires had McNair kill. seen in the trail.
    Or as it is over a year old I still am not sure.

    Stephen wheel though - from what I heard might be in the meeting with George Nina - McNair and Tom
    but not sure about that doesn't seem to fit. so I'm thinking again not a scene we've seen.

  • Comment number 43.

    Well I had 700 questions, I only wrote about 10 in a box to ask Mr Whithouse, I had none answered...

    Tom ignored in Oz

  • Comment number 44.

    43 - Tom ignored in Oz

    Group hug?

  • Comment number 45.

    Don't panic! It ain't over til the 3rd installment of the Q&A today!

  • Comment number 46.

    Morning folks, just been catching up on all the posts since Sunday - had major internet issues, thankfully now resolved.
    All the questions were brilliant, I can never think of anything to ask when these opportunities come along! Looking forward to Part 3 today.
    I've been thinking more about what Lia said to Mitchell. So killing him completes someone else's journey. Does that really sound like George or Nina? Aren't they a bit young to be completing their journey? They both seem to be more reconciled to their condition so it can't mean helping them come to terms with that. She says Mitchell's the final piece in someone else's story so that definitely suggests the end of the someone else.
    Any thoughts, or am I heading down the wrong path completely?

  • Comment number 47.

    34- I am with you here Laurar. A season 4 with only occasionally appearances by AT would be better than no new season.

    I really hope that Mitchell's death won't be completing Annie's journey. I'm thinking that her story might be complete after she finds true love (Mitchell). That sounds rather soppy I'm sorry and I really really really hope it's not true.

  • Comment number 48.

    ok so this is where we ask the questions right?
    lol oh well i sure hope it is

    anyway in the Annie broadcasts and in the 1st episode of s03 Annie mentions she is being sent to hell now my question for this is
    Why is it that Annie was being sent to hell and will this have any relevance in future episodes to come?

  • Comment number 49.

    Being Human is by far one of the best TV series ever seen, nothing compared to the American series that broadcast over here in Venezuela. I was very saddened to see Mitchell die at the end of the third season, I think his character was best that he developed and brought him a greater burden of history, is a shame. I would like to see a return mitchell in the future. He has signed some contracts for some movies, but I really would like to come back.


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