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Dead and loving it, by Graeme Virtue

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Alan Braidwood Alan Braidwood | 16:21 UK time, Tuesday, 12 April 2011

MacAulay And Co regular, Graeme Virtue has sent us this article.

Dead and Loving It
This week on the MacAulay And Co TV guide, we'll be talking about The Walking Dead, the wildly popular American series about zombies. All those shambling extras might look a little ragged but the show itself has a very healthy pedigree. Channel 5 acquired it from AMC, the boutique US cable channel responsible for Mad Men. It's been overseen by Frank Darabont, the Hollywood heavyweight behind The Shawshank Redemption.

It also stars Andrew Lincoln - as a far more hard-boiled version of Egg from This Life - in the pivotal role of Rick Grimes, a county sheriff determined to track down his missing wife and son in the aftermath of a gruesome apocalypse.

The zombies in The Walking Dead are repellent and terrifying. They will tear your arm off and eat your brains if you so much as look at them the wrong way. They have bad skin and notably poor impulse control.

Graeme Virtue taking part in last year's Glasgow Zombie Walk

Graeme Virtue taking part in last year's Glasgow Zombie Walk

But people love zombies. I know this because last Halloween I took part in the second annual Glasgow Zombie Walk. It was a surprisingly celebratory event: a thousand decomposing bodies dragged themselves through Kelvingrove Park, the majority of them groaning like your grandad watching Jimmy White fluff a 147 break. Everyone looked like death ... and they were loving it.

During this walk, the massed hordes of undead constantly demanded "braaaaaaains!" - but always in a cheerful tone. I was one of the least convincing participants, sporting only a Cher-style wig, a Black Sabbath T-shirt and some white facepaint. By contrast, the majority of zombies I bumped into that day could easily have shuffled their way onto a Hollywood film set. They had dedicated a lot of time to creating horrific wounds and trailing viscera. I admired their guts. Often because they were spilling out of their bellies ...

With so much public affection for zombies, it looks like the flaking undead might eventually usurp vampires in the cultural consciousness. Recently, bloodsucking TV shows have been in the ascendant, thanks to the popularity of True Blood on Channel 4, Being Human on BBC Three and The Vampire Diaries on ITV2. Remarkably, none of these vampire-themed shows actually suck, but if there are viewers who believe fangs aren't what they used to be, zombies could presumably fill the supernatural gap.

The first season of The Walking Dead may only run for six episodes, but a second series has already been commissioned. It seems certain that, in this case, the undead have legs. So was the first episode of The Walking Dead any good? Are zombies going to be the next big thing in genre TV? And can Egg from This Life do a decent Southern accent? We'll be debating all this and more on MacAulay And Co this Wednesday morning ...

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