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The inspiration behind Outcasts

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Ben Richards | 15:17 UK time, Monday, 7 February 2011

"Look at the pig!" I shouted to my wife as she came in, while I was watching rushes of Outcasts early on in the shoot. "It's a real piglet."

As if to prove the point, the pig farted, squealed and peed on the floor of the set.

"Cut!" shouted Bharat Nalluri, the director, a little wearily.

Danny Mays - playing Cass Cromwell - giggled. And I smiled.

Pigs In Space: The porcine inspiration and driving creative imperative behind all those long and lonely nights working on the scripts.

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They weren't of course. The inspiration behind Outcasts was the desire to tell a pioneer story, and the only place you can do that really now is in space.

I wanted to explore second chances, most fundamentally whether humanity is genetically hardwired to make the same mistakes again and again.

The stories that kickstart the series are intense, and hopefully moving, but the world view is never cynical or wilfully pessimistic.

Part of my inspiration was to write against the kind of world view developed by William Golding in Lord Of The Flies, and the planet of Carpathia is not a dystopia - it is named after a rescue ship.

It would be silly to think that a pioneer community wouldn't have all kinds of conflicts and problems - the drama lies precisely in those political and emotional challenges.

But ultimately, it is a show about hope and human dignity.

Ashley Walters as Jack Holt and Hermione Norris as Stella Isen

It is about one of the most attractive aspects of our species - our ability to think morally, to empathise with the suffering of others, to sacrifice self-interest for our loved ones or even people we don't know.

One of the most enjoyable aspects of any new show is meeting actors I have not worked with before.

I knew Hermione Norris from Spooks, where I had loved writing her character of Ros Myers.

But I hadn't worked with any of the others and they brought an energy and enthusiasm, which I really think shines through in the show.

I particularly love the dynamic between Cass and Fleur, played so beautifully by Amy Manson and Danny Mays.

But all the actors brought something special to their parts.

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I always have lots of favourite scenes, such as Jack (played by Ashley Walters) and Cass bound together and bantering in episode two, and the conflicts between Tate (Liam Cunningham) and Berger (played by Ugly Betty's Eric Mabius).

Then there's Tipper remembering his dead sisters, Stella's face as the transporter in episode one nears the end of its journey, and Cass and Fleur's agonising last scene together in the final episode.

But it is the piglet, of course, that wins by a snout.

Snatched from the barbecue coals by Protection And Security (PAS) officer Cass Cromwell - an image of survival against the odds that lies at the heart of our show.

Ben Richards is the writer of Outcasts.

Outcasts starts on BBC One and BBC One HD at 9pm on Monday, 7 February.

For further programme times, please see the upcoming episodes page.

You can follow updates from @BBC Outcasts on Twitter, and also share your thoughts on the show with the production team on the BBC Outcasts Facebook page.

Comments made by writers on the BBC TV blog are their own opinions and not necessarily those of the BBC.


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  • Comment number 1.

    Really enjoyed the first episode tonight. Funny though that the SA80 was used as the rifle. A weapon designed in the late 50's and due to go out of service in the 2020's. Not my idea of futuristic! Other than that a nice change from cop dramas and period pieces. Just wish the BBC had commisioned series 3 of Survivors.

  • Comment number 2.

    That was an absolutely awful programme. Leaving aside what it was supposed to be about, the delivery was terrible: wooden acting, a stilted script, poor timing (and very, very rushed) and a rather cynical use of violence to try and inject some interest into the story whenever it started to flag. None of the characters was convincing and the shallowness of the "action" (argument ensues: someone gets shot) made the whole thing appear ludicrous.
    I'm sorry I watched this. I won't make that mistake again

  • Comment number 3.

    Ray Bradbury's Martian Chronicles anyone?

  • Comment number 4.

    what a huge disappointment Outcast was, amateurish acting, terrible dialogue and stilted acting. Cant believe this series will continue and Lark Rise to Camelford will no longer be screened. What was funny, was the wonderful equipment and home furnishings and how it was never explained how all this was brought to what likes a planet with no 'factories'. Really improbable rubbish, and really does not come up to the usual standard of the BBC. It was a waste of Hermione Norris's acting abilities.

  • Comment number 5.

    I didn't expect much and I wasn't disappointed. This is the sort of tripe that used to be on at around 6.30pm called 'Star Trek'. That was bad enough and this is a poor copy. The plot was improbable and the acting was wooden at best - it felt like a first rehearsal.

    Poor old Hermione Norris must be hard up to get involved in this, she looked permanently puzzled. No wonder. Still, if she hadn't been it it I wouldn't have even bothered to watch it. I shan't be watching any more.

  • Comment number 6.

    I was hugely disappointed with Outcasts. The only limit for stories should be the writer's imagination, which was largely absent. It played like an episode of Eastenders. Hermoine Norris was Ros from Spooks: cool, detached, uninspiring. I didn't believe she had been on Carpathia for years. Her make up and hair were from a West End salon. The landscape was as flat as the acting. I wanted to be pulled into another world but there are no rules in that world.

    Characters wandered into rooms, delivered cliched dialogue and wandered out again. The exposition was contrived, especially the president's speech and the mawkish applause - which we were told about when we could already hear it.

    This is very lazy writing.

  • Comment number 7.

    How sad that this is not a one off programme. I managed about 10 minutes of this episode before looking else where for something more interesting and believable.
    Appart from 'Spooks' this is about the weakest drama I have attempted to watch.

  • Comment number 8.

    I know this is a bit unorthodox but I've decided to post the entire script online.

    Ship's Captain: Are there any human beings down there?
    Planet: Erm... what other English speakers were you expecting?

    Middle Class Kid: Oh poetry, oh poetry, why must the other boys keep kicking me?

    Angry Scottish Bird: You were stealing medical supplies
    Irish Druggie: Well if you didn't want a drug dealer on Carpathia why did you bring me along?

    Cougar woman: With this device I can see your memories
    Irish Druggie: How does it work?
    Cougar woman: Well, with you it shows your memories in first person, but with me it shows them in the third person
    Irish Druggie: O...kay....

    Angry Scottish Bird: This woman has been hit on the head. Hard. Take her to Holby City immediately.

    Gun Totting Mad Man: Got to get away!
    Big Guy: It's not time
    Gun Totting Mad Man: Got to get away!
    Big Guy: It's not time
    Gun Totting Mad Man: Got to get away!
    Big Guy: Why?
    Gun Totting Mad Man: Dunno

    Cougar woman: Fancy a shag?
    Irish Druggie: I haven't had my beer yet

    Angry Scottish Bird: I'm shouting in your face!
    Big Guy: Why?
    Angry Scottish Bird: To show how tough I am
    Big Guy: That's not fair when all have is my hugely superior physique and rifle to protect me

    Ship's Captain: We've travelled through space for 5 years and we're coming down
    President: Fix your shields first or you'll explode
    Ship's Captain: No time for that, we're want to get down before the tea gets cold
    President: Well... don't say I didn't warn you!

    Gun Totting Mad Man: I'm away and I'm taking my softie son with me
    Angry Scottish Bird: A MAN? Taking care of a CHILD? Wait till the Family Court hears about this!

    Gun Totting Mad Man: You've been a naughty boy
    President: I have been a naughty boy but trust me, I'm a politician and the state knows best

    President: Go after that crazy gun totting guy!
    Scruffy lower class person: Who, should I take? The big guy with the muscles and the gun?
    President: No, take the loud Scottish girl. She'll be handy.

    Boring person 1: Hey, did you see that thing that just happened?
    Boring person 2: Yes I did
    Boring person 1: Well, let me just tell you about it anyway. Nothing makes events you've already witnessed more interesting than hearing about them in long segments of exposition. Wouldn't you agree?
    Boring person 2: Sorry, could you repeat that?

    President: We decided to call this planet Carpathia. I can't remember the whole story but I think if they'd had more life boats...
    Ship's Captain: We don't have enough life boats!
    President: If only the planet namers had spoken to the ship designers...

    Gun Totting Mad Man: Do you really think human beings can make a better life for our children?
    Angry Scottish Bird: Human beings?
    Gun Totting Mad Man: Yeah, you know... US
    Angry Scottish Bird: So why didn't you just say "WE"? Why can't we make a better life for our children?


    Gun Totting Mad Man: I know I'm the main character here but how about you just kill me now?

    *Bang* *Explosion* *Poetry*

    The End

  • Comment number 9.

    This show is really appalling...and I mean REALLY appalling. If the Beeb want to entertain us cheaply for an hour or two at the beginning of the week, please give us a replay of Blakes 7 - in its day, 1978-1981 it managed about 52 episodes! Or make a series which is quite brilliant - you know you can do it - Sherlock Holmes is a masterpiece. Please do not waste your resources and our intelligence on a humdrum, ill thought-out, ill-matching collection of 'actors' and 'dialogue' -(they looked like they were reading from storyboards - mais non!)

  • Comment number 10.

    So, it takes 5 years to get to Carpathia... is that ship time, or planet time? Does the writer even know that there's a difference? (It's relativistic time dilation.) So how far away is the parent star? It must be at least four and a half light years. Also, why all the obviously Earth vegetation? Why no alien flyers in this lovely dense oxygen-rich atmosphere? No animals? Not realistic, is it? What a disappointment. Yet another SF series with appallingly bad science. It matters, you know!

  • Comment number 11.

    A very good start! A religious mystic who will no doubt attempt to turn Carpathia into a religious state, a baby whom he would abhor as a product of man's playing at god and the outcasts themselves who could be the salvation or death of the new civilisation (ok; its a bit like DUNE!!!)

  • Comment number 12.

    Oh dear

    well there is one good thing it can't get worse!!!

    however there is something quite enjoyable about watching something you can pick so may holes in. So I am in a strange way looking forward to the next episode and it leaves me to believe that even with my very limitted writing skills it may be worth applying for a job as a script writer, the bbc must be desperate.

  • Comment number 13.

    Do I understand that the BBC have spent 4 years and many EARTH pounds producing this pile of rubbish ? I sat through the first episode yesterday and and prayed that it just had to get better as the story progressed... but NO.. episode 2 was worse. The utterly unplausable characters would NOT have been the first dispatched to a new world (having bizzarly the very same vegetation, sun and oxygen as our earth) which was only 5 years travel away from earth, this would be the same distance as Mars and back. Hey, lets send drug dealers and gun toting psychopaths on the first ship to prepare the ground before the second wave of idiots who can think of only themselves.
    The script writers should have done a little research before shoveling out this drivel. NASA have whole departments working on new world senarios, just one afternoon with them would have improved the realism of the setting ten fold. The BBC executives should be ashamed of this output, it had me reaching for the off switch before episode 2 was half way through. It fails on so many levels that I can't bring myself to type any more. Disgusted.

  • Comment number 14.

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

  • Comment number 15.

    Blakes 7 on mogadons....this is poor..poor ..and poor, please bbc you can do better then this.

  • Comment number 16.

    At the end of the 2nd episode tonight and at watching next week's preview, I thought 'Oh god, not again' - man travelling half way across the universe and still the same power struggles, murder, revenge. Very formulaic and what we've seen time and time again - different place, same themes. I'm afraid I won't be watching it again next week.

  • Comment number 17.

    I am surprised that people here take tv so seriously! Lighten up, chill out and stop picking holes. It is entertainment not a serious science programme.

    Just take it for what it is and enjoy - remember, it could be taken off air and something really awful be put in its place - like X factor or Big Brother or some other such total rubbish!

    I liked it because it made me think about the pioneering spirit of people and how adaptable we are to changes. The actors were not wooden, the environment is ok, no animals - well maybe there are some but not in that area - just wait and see how the drama unfolds ... you may get answers, and then again you may not!

    Thats all the fun of a story, whether it is on TV, radio or other medium.

    So enjoy it for what it is, not for what it isn't.

  • Comment number 18.

    Too awful to bear, this is just a poorly made soap. I watched episode 1 last night and my heart sank, but I thought 'give it a chance, great series often start off poorly', but I gave up after about 45 minutes this evening, and deleted it from my recording list. And this is such a shame - the location is beautiful and credible, there are some good actors on the show, and the premise has tons of mileage in it. But there's no plot or purpose, the script is utterly fatuous, and my 6 year-old daughters cardboard dress up dollies have more depth than any of the characters. It's even worse than Survivors and that was bad enough.

    A note to the producer/writer: for the first time in years our office has been buzzing with a 'did you see...' conversation this week. With so many channels it's very rare for that to happen these days. The programme in question is 'The Killing'. No one has even mentioned Outcasts. But they don't talk about Eastenders either.

  • Comment number 19.

    Oh so sad. For those of us who like SF, and who know how good it CAN be, it's such a shame to see waste resources on this scale. Oh dear.
    Problem is it's not quite bad enough to be good. I watched episode 2 just because I couldn't believe how bad episode 1 was.
    Where was this filmed? Looks like Wales. Things must have been pretty bad on Earth then if people had to risk their lives to get there!

  • Comment number 20.

    Morally repugnant. So far in the first two episodes 9 of the 10 main characters have either committed murder, attempted murder or conspired in murder. This is not an exaggeration. Of the one main character who has not, he engages in casual sex and takes drugs.

    "..the world view is never cynical or wilfully pessimistic....ultimately, it is a show about hope and human dignity."

    If Ben Richards (presumably the writer) truly thinks that, then he must be an undiagnosed psychopath.

    Absolutely disgusting.

  • Comment number 21.

    I just read an interview with the writer/creator who says 'it’s very rare that somebody says they’re absolutely gripped by Episode 1 of a show'. Has he ever seen the first five minutes the Breaking Bad pilot episode? If he needs five episodes to draw in the audience that then why is he a writer? I knew the plot of Outcasts beforehand and was still wondering what the hell was going on after the first ten minutes, like it had started from a later episode. He should get some lessons on the fundamentals of writing like how to create a compelling, original and believable story.

  • Comment number 22.

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

  • Comment number 23.

    Utter Rubbish

  • Comment number 24.

    Good soundtrack....and thats about it.
    So much hype and build up only to be let down by a poor script, poor acting and monotone dialogue.

    The writer should know that the Cylons and the Others from Lost have already been done, as have mysterious monsters / aliens we dont quite get to see yet, and that the shields failing on a space ship do not leave an audience wanting more.

    You can tell when a show is doomed to fail as they include "Dead" scenes such as a kidnapped girl attempting an escape, the shaky cam follows her, the music starts hyping up...only for her to be caught 5 minutes up the road by the bad guys and taken back to where she just came from....WASTE of story telling and air time.

    Nice intention, awful delivery!

  • Comment number 25.

    Ah, Ben, there's your problem:

    "I wanted to explore second chances, most fundamentally whether humanity is genetically hardwired to make the same mistakes again and again."

    What you should actually do, as a writer - and especially one for TV - is to think up an interesting, varied and credible plot based on characters who are dynamic, independent and reveal themselves through their actions. Any 'themes' should then arise from the way the plot and the characters interact. By trying to illustrate your theme instead, you've created a series of dull, undramatic scenes populated by dull, worthy and insipid characters (who don't have a funny-bone between them). You don't reveal character by having people tell each other things or shouting, especially not by having characters talking to dead people (e.g. Fleur).

    You must conceive of your storyline for the episode, then divide it into scenes where the characters have the opportunity to do things that reveal what's important to them. If you have an hour to fill but your plot isn't full enough of interesting events, you don't fill out the hour by sitting a couple of the characters down and having them maunder on at each other. You invent more plot twists instead. Nor do you create false 'drama' by having characters do ridiculous things - like Jack rising up at the moment of the 'hostage transfer'. The drama and conflict should be created by characters having different goals and finding ways to achieve them, not by manufacturing moments of apparent crisis that are in fact unrealistic.

    Sorry to have been so basic about this, but it sometimes seems as if BBC writers need some tuition in the fundamentals of TV drama. Or you could all watch Mad Men and Breaking Bad until your eyes bleed.

  • Comment number 26.

    PS...is it me or does Carpathia sound a little to much like Caprica?

  • Comment number 27.

    Hello, me again, the one who complained about the poor science content... but am I the only one? Doesn't anyone else find it odd that a planet with an oxygen-rich atmosphere containing no poisonous (to us) gasses (clearly, as people can breathe it) contains no flying life-forms? Either tiny, medium, or big? (I'm not going to use the words "insects" or "birds", as that's just life on Earth). And why green "plants"? With leaves? Is that likely? (Possibly.) And what's the local g ? Clearly, nearly 10 m/s/s ! And a local "virus"? Really? Are viruses found all over the galaxy, then? (Possibly.) But why no animals? And what about those bipeds? Why not tripeds? You see what I'm getting at... this isn't Earth (and certainly not Wales, as one commentator suggested!)... so why does Carpathia look like South Africa? Where are the big flappy flying things? Where are the weird 7-legged tubby cylindrical animals with 7 eyes, evolved to receive the unique light wavelengths that reach the ground here? Where's the unique geology? OK, nice touch with the "white out" - but how is this different from a sandstorm, and why? Science Fiction is not just about characters and plot - it's also about weird new places, animals, geology, etc. All convincingly plausible, to a reasonably educated person. Carpathia just hasn't been thought through, in my opinion. Doesn't anyone else agree?

  • Comment number 28.

    Looking back over the comments, it seems that SuperSlim has some views that accord with mine. So maybe I'm not the only one... Science really matters - you can't ignore it, just for the sake of a good "human" story...

  • Comment number 29.

    Much better than any other recent BBC attempt at Sci-fi. Although I hope the religiony stuff doesn't go all Battlestar Galactica.

    To be honest I would be more interested in the inspiration behind the bizarre scheduling decision. Monday and Tuesday evenings, and then nothing until the next Monday? Well it's certainly innovative I suppose. And annoying.

  • Comment number 30.

    apparently Juliet Aubrey is in one of the episodes . She is my favourite actress ever...hopefully Outcasts will get better when she joins the team.

  • Comment number 31.

    Such a disappointment. Not really Sci-Fi. Could almost have been based on Earth; in fact with a nasty piece of work called Mitchell in the first episode it could have been Albert Square. So they kill Mitchell off in episode one, but then replace him with someone else equally unpleasant but with brains (and religion!). I gave the second episode a rather painful thirty minutes but just had to turn it off. And how did they get there without breaking all the laws of physics?

  • Comment number 32.

    I agree with you Spludge, and every one else, I probably agree with the missing comment by Superslim. I cant agree with ticjaki, look at the posts, you and Mick (survivors had all the same problems Mick) are the odd ones out, what you smoking.
    I don't need funny looking aliens, but I do expect plausible conversation and events.
    Being a sci-fi fan, I was hugely disappointed, so many scenes that would not of been done that way if it was real. When Cass and the chic went after the nutter who kidnapped his son, on approaching him from behind, they did not have their gun's out ready, that is just one scene out of too many to write here. As for the stupid stilted dialogue, the only person in the show with charisma is the young drug taker (no hope there then). Lily walks past mother, "your not my mother, you left me", up in the hills she said "I'm not going to see her am I" or words to that effect, and for goodness sake, she was three when mother left, and only eight when when she got on a ship to follow, so is that the best she could say on meeting mother. No, I think the writers are treating us all like ticjaki and Mick, gullible, willing to sit there brain dead and fed rubbish.

  • Comment number 33.


    To an extent I agree with you, but I get the impression there's quite a bit of plot yet to play out, so there might be some justification. I thought they at least made some attempt to make the vegetation look slightly strange at times, and we haven't seen any alien life at all so far.

    Where I do agree is that there just doesn't seem to be enough justification for the nature of the settlement. The sets look like they were built by set-designers to look good rather than with due thought given to what would actually be there.

    On the other hand, the programme's not all bad - at least it looks pretty in HD :)

  • Comment number 34.

    My heart sinks every time I hear the words "BBC" and "science fiction" in the same sentence. It seems to me like the Beeb is embarrassed by the popularity of science fiction and somehow thinks that it is beneath them. It is like they think that Star Wars and Star Trek are all science fiction is and that the only people who like it are teenage boys who cannot get a date. It was not always like that: 1984 starring Peter Cushing and the Quatermass series were landmark works which were daring and exciting. Even Dr Who, for all its battiness, used to have stories that could be enjoyed by someone over the age of 15. I am not so picky about some of the science behind it. What disappointed me was the half-heartedness of the writing. For example, here is a fort with big steel doors to protect people from - nothing, really, not even any animal life (apparently). Yet these big steel gates are no use whatsoever against white-outs. Then there seems to be no means of food production, so how do they eat? Yet they have sufficient resources to run a bar. The writer has taken a wild west fort where supplies could arrive within weeks and plonked it down in an alien environment which is five years travel from any supply source. Then there is Fleur who, when she is not shooting someone for allegedly beating up his wife (although she has no evidence), is tutting about the moral decisions of those around her. Still, the good news is, I do not have to watch it. There are plenty of other channels out there, thank God. Still, it does go towards explaining why the BBC is not a prominent feature of my viewing decisions

  • Comment number 35.

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

  • Comment number 36.

    Basically this is stock script-writer characters with stock script-writer motivations, views and reasoning and situations but set in space.

    This is so unbelievably bad. It's a kind of survivors in space. Stella Isen talking about her daughter Lily - Julie Graham going on and on about Peter. Both supposed to be strong women yet seem to be more on the verge of a mental break down.
    Then there are the characters...
    Mitchell -appears to be someone who is at ease out exploring the new world the settlers are now living in rather living huddled in Forthaven with the rest so the script writer makes him the bad guy.

    Questionable morality and wisdom:
    President Tate - kill all the clones, they might have been carrying a virus that killed my family.

    Then there is:
    Fleur Morgan - shoot dead my best friend's husband because he hit her
    Cass - Let's give all our guns to these unknown, unarmed scary strangers who are probably violent and let them take us hostage so that they can kill us with our own guns.

    I've deleted the rest of this comment as iloveanimalprograms, keithyd, splashdown30 etc have phrased this so much better that I could ever do.

  • Comment number 37.

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

  • Comment number 38.

    Given that currently there is very little to keep an audience coming back for more each week, the writers (if they havent done already) might want to think about taking the story backwards to when the first settlers arrived. OK so its a bit "Lost" in its style of story telling but I'd most likely watch an episode or two if we were given a little bit of why the settlers had to leave earth, what it was like on earth in their final days, what is was like when they first arrived on the new planet, the relationships the characters had prior to arriving and what drove them to become who they are now.

    It may not be an original way of presenting a story but simply dumping the audience into episode one with very little to go on, is possibly why this show is not likely too see a second series.

    SyFy has moved on from guns and aliens and baddies chasing the good guys. If you want that kind of experience, you go and buy an XBOX or sit through the "Predator" films. People I think are more interested now in what could possibly happen and want realistic stories that we can relate too, even if by just a little bit.

    I am actually quite dissapointed and have to start hunting all over again for another show that has the potential to replace greats such as BSG, Lost, Ashes To Ashes and oddly enough, SGU. (sigh)

  • Comment number 39.

    I enjoyed this drama with its slow building plots and high emotional points, looking forward to the next episodes.

  • Comment number 40.

    I have watched the first two episodes of the TV show outcasts, the story line is weak and disjointed, the rousing speech given to the transporter by Tate to help settle the passengers contained nothing to invoke calm and reassurance about the final entry phase into Carpathia. The impact of the escape module appeared to be made by piling sand around a set as opposed to refecting an impact crater. In fact one of the views from a distance showed no sand piled around the capsule at all. There appeared to be one survivor of the this capsule when the Lili was taken but when the rescue crew arrived there were bodies lined up under the parachute canopy which it was revealed had been "Finished off". The issue of giving up your weapons when faced with inferior odds and less than well armed opposition is fantasy, the use of the SA80 as a combat weapon of choice is spurious, as were the clones. I was dissapointed that something which had the potential to have been good was spoilt by poor research and delivery. The girl who was so quick to shoot Mitchell was equally as quick to discard her weapon, which incidentally she should have been shown how to hold and use correctly. I could go on and these are only my opinions and observation but the BBC has a reputation to consider and this series does nothing to enhance it.

  • Comment number 41.

    Please BBC next time you commission a Science Fiction show at least hire a Science Fiction Writer. Ben Richards isn't and it shows. I could be wrong, but I can't find any SF written by Ben Richards.

    From a Science Fiction point of view there are far too many holes for the show to be taken seriously. Take away the poor SF and all that is left is a second rate spooks in space.

    Would that RMS Carpathia would come along and rescue this shipwreck.

  • Comment number 42.

    I really wanted to like this as I'm a SF fan and it takes a lot for me not to like something (I watched all of Survivors and Bonekickers!), but this was just terrible. I watched episode 2 as I thought it couldn't get any worse, but it did. I won't be watching again.

    Ben Richards obviously wanted to produce another Battlestar Galactica, which I was a huge fan of. They even went as far as getting Jamie Bamber to star in it, who was also in BSG, but then make the big mistake of killing off the only interesting character in it during the first episode. The bar where Norris' character picked up the Irish bloke was very similar to the bar in BSG, and the introduction of religious guru Julius seems very similar to the BSG character Gaius Baltar, they even have similar names (we've had Gaius, now Julius, we just need a Caesar to complete the set!).

    The acting was terrible - Hermione Norris was very one-dimensional and just repeating her Spooks character. I also found Amy Manson very irritating in this, she was good in Desperate Romantics so I blame the writers. Daniel Mays was just a Cockney geezer - Eastenders in space. The only one I thought was ok was the young boy who played Jamie Bamber's son! I can't believe this series even got past the planning stages.

  • Comment number 43.

    I love Sci_Fi but this was absolutey awful made it to 30 mins and couldn't stand anymore....what has happended to the BBC.
    First the drawn out Sci-Fi series attempt recently in a submarine with Minnie Driver and whose name I can't remember and now this rubbish, is this about cutting costs.
    If it is, better to not produce anything and just show re-runs of Star Trek the original series.

  • Comment number 44.

    I love SciFi, and lament the lack of it currently on TV, so I watched this with high hopes. Sad to say, far from being SciFi, except the location, it's pretty clear that this is going to a pretty feeble 40 minute adventure stretched out to four episodes by people 'relating to each other man' - in other words yet another soap opera in disguise.

    What ever happened to story telling?

  • Comment number 45.

    Got off to a slow start with episode 1 but the characters are building well and like all good SF since Gullivers Travels and The Handmaid's Tale it is really about us and now, like the authors say. Have just played episode 2 for the second time on the i-player. Worth doing. It is tightly structured and the tension is building. I enjoy the stripped down language and the Oxfam shop couture and the sinister born again Berger is a delight.

  • Comment number 46.

    Good: interesting themes, deep characters, great production values.
    Bad: slow and boring! too centred around the top of the hierarchy. too little seen of the rest of Forthaven.
    I'll watch the whole series if I can because of the themes and because it reminds me of Firefly. I also like that it's a bit like Red Dwarf but with more than one human and because after ep2 it has reminded me a little of Space: Above and Beyond with the AC theme.

    The slow, boringness may be down to being driven by the overall story arc rather than being episodicly driven. I think Firefly and Babylon 5 got that balance much better.

  • Comment number 47.

    Robert Knight, I salute you!

  • Comment number 48.

    On cult box website Ben Richards is interviewed regards Outcasts and states that he doesn't mind critical comments as long as they dont just say "I hate it." So my comments are for Ben and as this is his blog I hope he takes the time to read it. I like good sci fi but agree with other reviewers that outcasts feels like strung together 'soap' storylines with a space theme. The biggest flaw is it is written so poorly and carelessly that it has no realism to it. Imagine if the BBC made a serious 15th century period drama and the first episode included a farewell of someone leaving for the United States? And in the evenings a family sat down togehter to tune in their radio? It would be a laughing stock and heads would roll. Yet this is the way Outcasts has been treated. I can hear the reply, "but it's Sci Fi its not meant to be real". True, but the writing and production is meant to make the viewer feel it could be real. Both in Outcasts are so poor, it removes any realism. The examples are mirad. Outcasts is set in the year 2040. At a time when England cant even make a Nimrod, and wont have planes on aircraft carriers till 2018 you expect anyone to believe giant interstaller space craft are ready for emergency situations in 2025! The captain of one of these space craft has to have it explained to him in childlike manner that he should repair his protective sheilds before entry and after 5 years negotiating the universe to Carpathia can't control his crew to wait a few hours to fix them. Does the writer not know the subject at all? Didn't anybody have the commonsense to say this is'nt credible? I could go on and on but won't continue repeating what others have said on this and many websites. Outcasts has paralell themes to 'Day of the Triffids' as both involve a small colony of survivors. In high school(in Oz mind you) Day of the triffids book and watching BBC's original production was part of the school curriculum. It was gritty with many themes that could be explored centering on how society would function. Eg. the capture and abuse of the sighted by the blind. Leaders of the sighted ordering only blind females rescued as they could produce sighted offspring and the decree that husbands should have more than one wife. Compare such to the later remake which, like Outcasts, throws away any sense of reality and turned the whole story into a comic book battle against a meglomaniac. Outcasts is in the same league as the triffids remake. Ben's childish misunderstanding/comtempt for the entire subject is highlighted in his own blog when he proudly declares that his favorite scene (the one that tipifys Outcasts) is the one with the flatuating pig. I would agree with Ben, but for a different reason. One 95% of reviewers seem to share ...both stink.

  • Comment number 49.

    At the risk of contravening the house rules ie.posing any comments that 'are considered likely to disrupt, provoke, attack or offend others', I would like to comment on this show. Actually, it occurs to me that the attitude that creates a site that purports to be for free comment and then precludes any risk of offence is rather similar to that of a production company that hires a non-sci-fi writer to create a flag-ship sci-fi show and then peoples an alien planet however many light-years away with the kind of people who actually work in the production company.
    This show is regionalist, boring, classbound, parochial. If this was the product of a profit-driven production company, heads would roll. When will the BBC wake up to the fact that their commissioning process is largely in the hands of meta-management types who either don't care about or don't recognise good writing. It's always, 'how will this look?' 'what boxes will this tick?' 'How does this support the BBC's latest version of its image? Can we sell it to America? etc. By the time all these forces and filters have done their mangling, it's no surprise that there's so much offensively bad content on the BBC. Watching a planet being managed by BBC staff is bad enough, but its the BBC's idea of 'real' people that really provokes. I mean the rough blokes and the friendly oik for example...Anyway I ought to stop now. This program is ***** **** *** ***T!

  • Comment number 50.

    My previous comment broke NO rules. I can only guess that the beeb don't like more than one complaint per person.
    I would be quite good if Ben Richards was made to read these comments and take on board the view of the licence fee payers. I felt his initital comment 'The porcine inspiration and driving creative imperative behind all those long and lonely nights working on the scripts' shows the key reason why this production fails on so many levels. Those lonely nights must have been sat out with Teletubbies and Chuckle Brothers playing on his TV whilst he put pen to paper. He failed to grasp even the simple basics of evolution, space travel, gravity, and energy. Stephen Hawkings Universe, repeated last year, would have made him realise how wrong he got it.
    I understand that this series is the story of the characters and how they deal with the situation they find themselves in, but come on... these are NOT real people. I'd like to know where his inspiration came from for these characters and why he feels these psychopaths whould have been selected to colonise a new world. Aside from the massive holes in the fundamentals of creating a society on a new world, I find Ben's choice of character traits to be very poor choice and executed in an appauling manner by the actors. Out of the many posts on this page, it's abundantly clear that Outcasts fails as a good Sci-Fi and perhaps even as a drama. Better luck next time BBC but I won't be watching any more of this rubbish.

  • Comment number 51.


    Grow up! So we're meant to enjoy this because it's not as bad as something worse that's not actually on? Maybe people didn't enjoy it because it's simply not good enough. Ep2 got 3.3 million; a catastrophe for the BBC. How long before it's bumped to the graveyard slot?

    SciFi should be able to ask interesting questions, and tell interesting stories, by changing our situation; the way we perceive ourselves. What is the big leap of imagination here? It all seems very much second hand.

    It would be nice to have some interesting science from a Science Fiction show. But then, BBC drama is peopled entirely by humanities graduates.

  • Comment number 52.

    Well I think its a direct copy of "EARTH2", a truly bad copy.
    "Earth2" was renown for being "Limp" Sci-Fi and was soon cancelled.
    It only endearing quality was the journey across an alien vista, acid lakes etc.
    We've had the clones, next... the mystic diverse aliens (grendles, and others etc) all with an ancient history/message for mankind.
    I love Sci-Fi but this is badly written pap.

  • Comment number 53.

    First of all, Robert Knight (upthread) -- brilliant!

    Second, Ben Richards -- I think you've got the message by now: like all fiction, science fiction needs to be basically plausible. If you have no feel for how to make sci-fi plausible, you should stay away from the genre.

    Third -- "Julius Berger"? That name sounds familiar -- Oh, it's the name of a German civil engineering company that has a big presence in Africa (though, due to mergers, only the African subsidiary still has that name). Curious.

  • Comment number 54.

    Well, you've messed this one up already, but here are a couple of pointers for your next attempt, Ben:

    1) Lose the kid. 30 seconds into the first episode and we get a kid reciting poetry. Nothing says 'tedious schmaltz' quite so effectively. Or was that meant to be a warning sign? "Here's the kid, you can stop watching now if you were expecting something that won't make you barf"?

    2) Take some evening classes in writing and learn how to do exposition without throwing in clunking howlers like, "But she did love him, and it was agony for her". Here's a tip, if a line sounds like it was written by a robot, cut it out. Alternatively, make one of the characters an actual robot, so you can give them all the bad lines (hey, worked for Star Trek, but then they had an actor good enough to make a virtue of it).

    3) If you think Sci-Fi means 'Phil Mitchell in Space' then go back to writing Spooks, but I think other posters have covered that already.

  • Comment number 55.

    Well I’m enjoying it! Of course it’s not scientifically accurate that’s why it’s called science FICTION folks!! It’s never, ever going to be remotely scientifically plausible or accurate – we already know that it would take several human lifetimes to travel to the nearest potentially earth like planet.
    What a load of old carping! Just let the show settle into its stride – it’s beautifully shot and has some good actors. If you can’t bear scientific inaccuracies or the script you’d better confine yourself to watching documentaries produced by film teams hooked up to continual sodium thiopental infusions! (But if you do remember... no Blakes 7, BSG, Firefly, Dr Who or, dare I say it, Sherlock!)

  • Comment number 56.

    [quote]12. At 22:34pm on 8th Feb 2011, tony m wrote:
    Oh dear

    well there is one good thing it can't get worse!!!

    however there is something quite enjoyable about watching something you can pick so may holes in. So I am in a strange way looking forward to the next episode and it leaves me to believe that even with my very limitted writing skills it may be worth applying for a job as a script writer, the bbc must be desperate.[/quote]
    There is another good thing: the joy of laughing at such poor grammar and spelling.

    Anyway... I quite like this program; OK, it is not a cgi-filled blast-fest... more a sci-fi story with the characters as the main driving-force.
    I can quite easily empathise with the plight of the settlers - with the exception of Bates(The FortHaven leader?) whom I would dearly love to shoot in the kneecaps - I don't trust him and think he is a mean person.
    I feel that the themes being addressed in this series are very interesting,
    Is mankind hardwired for conflict?
    Are we doomed to repeat past mistakes?
    Is cloning ethical?
    What are the emotional consequences of a parent disappearing into the heavens 'for the greater good' and leaving their child(ren) behind? Can anyone really achieve 'salvation' from past mistakes?

    This program could do very well... given careful and thoughtful writing and direction.

  • Comment number 57.

    Flosshilde1 wrote:

    "Well I’m enjoying it! Of course it’s not scientifically accurate that’s why it’s called science FICTION folks!!"

    I hate, hate, HATE this excuse.

    The essence of science fiction as a genre is that it should try to be as imaginative as possible while at the same time being as scientifically plausible as possible, and not veer into magic or nonsense. To pointlessly defy science, when a small change would make your story plausible without harming the narrative, goes totally against the spirit of science fiction.

    Unfortunately, some dilettante SF writers think science fiction is just an opportunity to write stories without any research, and without any coherent logic. That's not science fiction - it's laziness.

    Flosshilde1 continues:

    "we already know that it would take several human lifetimes to travel to the nearest potentially earth like planet."

    So don't include a line where the spaceship captain says, "We took nearly five years to get here from Earth". How hard is that?

    "If you can’t bear scientific inaccuracies or the script you’d better confine yourself to watching documentaries ..."

    While I like a good science documentary, that's no a reason to ignore the cavalier attitude of much TV science fiction to science. It annoys me when they take too many liberties with history, too. Sometimes liberties can be forgiven if the characters are interesting and the story is exciting, but this show, besides being a serious offender on the science front, is also cheesy, clichéd, preachy and dull. Plus there's a distinct shortage of likable characters.

  • Comment number 58.

    @Robert Knight

    Gun Toting Mad Man: Hey, did you ever see me in Battlestar Galactica?
    The Audience: Yes, of course! Now there was a good sci-fi TV series. Except for the... well you know... ending.

  • Comment number 59.

    Just saw two episodes of Outcasts on iPlayer... what a phenomenally BAD job! Trying for something between Earth 2 and Lost, I guess... awful dialogue, terribly unbelievable characters, even the baby is ugly!
    By the end of episode I couldn't care less WHAT happens to the fay women, ape-men and unbearably irritatingly blue-eyed , inexplicably Northern Irsish smartasspithecus.
    Episodes 3 and 4? NO THANKS!
    I must have some paint somewhere I could slap on a wall somewhere and, as I watch it dry, smile contentedly to myself and think... "at least it's not Outcasts!".

  • Comment number 60.

    "So, it takes 5 years to get to Carpathia... is that ship time, or planet time? Does the writer even know that there's a difference? (It's relativistic time dilation.) So how far away is the parent star? It must be at least four and a half light years. "

    Well we do not even know there propulsion system, may they were even travelling faster that lights.

    "Also, why all the obviously Earth vegetation? Why no alien flyers in this lovely dense oxygen-rich atmosphere? No animals? Not realistic, is it? What a disappointment. Yet another SF series with appallingly bad science. It matters, you know!"
    It called TV budget, showing all that cost a awful lot of money, whole an people do not seem to complain about that in DW, which is double standards if I may say so.

  • Comment number 61.

    Then there is:
    Fleur Morgan - shoot dead my best friend's husband because he hit her
    Cass - Let's give all our guns to these unknown, unarmed scary strangers who are probably violent and let them take us hostage so that they can kill us with our own guns.

    I read the same complaint numerous times, an I have ask the same question, what else were they meant to do,
    There are only a couple of other options,
    Fire an kill the strangers,
    run a way
    call the bluff

    None of those options meets the aim of there mission, to rescue survivors from the the landing pod an take them back to Fort haven. They all however leave them with Lilly dead an zero intelligence about the clones. To me they did the right thing, surrender, let themselves be captured an then work on a escape plan or hope that someone from far haven rescues them an gain info on the clones.

    If you got a other option which achieves those goals then I willing to hear it, but I cannot think of none.

  • Comment number 62.

    Do I understand that the BBC have spent 4 years and many EARTH pounds producing this pile of rubbish ? I sat through the first episode yesterday and and prayed that it just had to get better as the story progressed... but NO.. episode 2 was worse.

    "The utterly unplausable characters would NOT have been the first dispatched to a new world (having bizzarly the very same vegetation, sun and oxygen as our earth) which was only 5 years travel away from earth, this would be the same distance as Mars and back. "
    Mars is only 2 months away using VASMIR drives. Finding a planet similar to earth is possible, in face most reckong we find one in the next five years. The unlikely thing is actually the length of the journey but as we do not know the propulsion system they used on there vessel criticising the time travel is unwise. May be in the future we will be told, an then we can tear it to bits but not before hand.

    "Hey, lets send drug dealers and gun toting psychopaths on the first ship to prepare the ground before the second wave of idiots who can think of only themselves."
    May be someone should listen to the dialogue, they were not all the first ones. Some were chosen when they were just teenagers boy genesis.

    An we have not seen how these people were back on earth, I suspect a lot of them were quite difference, Tate for instant was not considered leader ship material an yet he leading an entire colony . But if I was picking a team, I pick from the special forces brigdade, or aka gun toting psychopaths would be my amoungst first choice.

    An we have not been told everyone who arrived first but we know there been 9 transport that been sent an many of those burnt up in the atmospere,

  • Comment number 63.

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

  • Comment number 64.

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

  • Comment number 65.

    Here we go again. Why cant the beeb take a decent idea and just run with it? Outcasts is another example of angst drama so beloved by the corporation. It's all so PC, so desperately equal opportunities right-on prechey nonsense. Loads of meaningful looks and soul searching and all of 'em moving with the urgency of a sloth on its way to its next bath. For crying out loud, put so pace into it! I'm already fed up with Fleur (dumb name) the moral compass of the show who thanks to a frankly bizarre hairstyle looks like she has a giant slug crawling up her neck. President Tate has all the charisma of a wet mop. Stella is dull dull dull and the other characters just fall into the usual cliché by numbers. when I tune into a scf-fi themed show I'd rather like to see a fair bit of sci-fi. This feels like Eastenders in space. The dialogue is clunky, the characters bland and uninteresting, the tension non-existent. Its boring and so far utterly predictable. I've just finished watching the second episode and I was actual shouting at the screen in frustration - "For Gods sake get on with it!" I'll watch the third episode tonight but if it does not improve drasticly then that's it. Life is just too short to waste time watching half-baked badly executed guff like this.

  • Comment number 66.

    When channel one stopped broadcasting, I went on the hunt for a new sci-fi, I am glad to say that outcasts has more than filled that gap! I have watched all three episodes broadcasted so far and it is nice to see the thinking behind such a 'wacky' story!

    George Bick
    [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]

  • Comment number 67.

    I've just watched (endured) episode 3 and, oh my, what drivel. I feel sorry for the actors: awful plot, childish characterisations, bad dialogue, flakey direction and props that are just plain silly. I won't bother commenting on the science seeing as there isn't any on display !
    Bring back "Blakes 7"..

  • Comment number 68.

    It's obvious that sci-fi fans haven't been satisfied,but I am not one, so I didn't come to this with preconceptions - I am happy with what the writer's imagination has done for us - it's a really welcome change from so-called realism or stock thriller. I love the sets and the characters, landscape (where WAS it filmed?) and am quite capable of buying into the premise of a planet with an atmosphere (can't understand why sci-fiers can't) and suspending judgement. Of course there's a lot about the new society unexplained - so what? That's where the viewer's imagination comes in. It seems to me to cross the 'light' and 'dark' boundaries in an accessible way, and the novel (for BBC) style is very welcome. I am very involved and looking forward to more.

  • Comment number 69.

    With aplogies to the late and great Douglas Adams (via Marvin, the paranoid android), the first episode was the worst. And the second episode was the worst, too. After that, it went into a bit of a decline.

    @Ben Richards: Constructively, what's wrong can be summed up in a few short sentences:

    1 - In story telling, there needs always to be a measured "balance" between the "show and tell" elements of the story (most especially in dialogue). In Outcasts, the scales are tipped too far (by far) toward the "tell" end of the scale.

    2 - Science Fiction at its best, like all successful fiction, is the exploration of the human condition. This is where the "soap" element comes in (for most dramas, anyway). In Outcasts, the "human" part is very shallow and one dimensional. Characters are so shallow it's hard to care about them.

    3 - Science Fiction at its best, needs good/plausible science to work well. There is next to no science in Outcasts. What there is, is bland, unexplained tosh delivered by laughably ill-infomed characters. It's totally disingenuous and neglectful of any writer to underestimate his audience so woefully.

    So, that's me trying to be constructive. Now, let me be just plain critical...

    Episode 3: Three or four characters mention there's going to be a "level 3 lockdown". President Boring mentions it then goes on to explain what it will entail to members of his staff who (you'd think) would know perfectly well what a level 3 lockdown is. If they don't, why don't they? If they do, why did president Boring explain it? And if it needs explaining, why does it have a name? Aren't named procedures meant to convey lengthy info in a concise manner? You know... using a "name"???

    Answer: You're "telling" instead of "showing". More to the point, President Boring is telling *us*. As any good book on story writing will tell you, your readership will not thank you for that. They won't even finish the book.

    Please Ben, stop it. It's silly and irritating.

    I know why you believe you have to take this road, episode one started "so far in" to the story, you have no choice but to do a lot of telling to get us up to speed with where the colonists "are now". A much better method would have been a narator, speaking over the opening credit sequence. Then you could drop us viewers right into the think of it where the colonists are dealing with the nitty-gritty of their day-to-day struggle to survive.

    Lesson: Watch the movie Alien - first twenty or so minutes. No "tell" to speak of. Just "show". Don't understand what a mining ship is? Tough. Don't know what the hell the characters are talking about? Tough. You're a fly on the wall right in their environment.

    Outcasts is like Blue Peter, compared.


  • Comment number 70.

    Ben Richards has failed to ignite the national interest in Sci-Fi's on sooooo many levels. His poorly written dialogue and charcter framework is so poor that having watched the first 3 episodes on iplayer yesterday I became suicidal. This is the type of drama that could only entertain those with below average IQ and whom society has been dumbed down for. It's clear from reading many of the above blogs on this topic that the overwhelming view is that Outcasts is not good BBC output. I need not begin to complain about the science as pointed out by Spludge, Superslim and Giveover that the production team have made so many mistakes that it has become laughable. I agree with Superslim that the production team should have sought out expert advice as to what a potential Goldilocks planet would be like. The likelyhood of finding the landscape and atmosphere in Outcasts has to be about 1 billion to 1, so to find it just 5 years travel away from earth is ridiculous. In reallity, the first planet colonists would be scientists, farmers and teraformers, all of which would be screened for psychopathic tendancies and other risks. I just wish that Ben Richards had considered the bigger picture before writing the porrigde he has spooned us. I'll not be watching more as I'd rather stick pins in my eyes. Also, moderators clearly are heavy handed here as removed comments show. It would be good to see those removed as I believe we live in a free society.

  • Comment number 71.

    CodaCoder... Spot on..!! Well said

  • Comment number 72.

    I see there's a different director and writer for episode 4 (tonight, as I write this). Perhaps there's hope, yet. Otherwise, anyone know how to shave 50 points off their IQ score?

  • Comment number 73.

    CodaCoder.. Watch more Outcasts... that should make a dent in your IQ

  • Comment number 74.

    Two words. Porcine flatulence.

  • Comment number 75.

    This programme without any doubt makes the Clangers look believable.

    What the hell is this tale of whatever filmed in a gravel pit somewhere in the UK supposed to be about. The security teams are all carrying training versions of the Glock [Red Slide] trying to make it all look futuristic. There are inane suggestions as to problems on Earth, with no history in the story.

    I am guessing that due to some error this was supposed to be on CBBC before six, but the farting pig made it necessary to show it after the watershad.

    How much of the Licence fee has been wasted here?

    0/10 please try harder

    Troy Tempest - Stingray, Marineville

  • Comment number 76.

    Back to the old days of SF on the Beeb but in colour - who ever commisioned this series must have wanted to bring back Blakes 7 but couldn't afford to. So instead chose to spend the money on a story that lacks depth is predicatable and full of continuity errors.

    It is a seriously bad drama although this is not the actors fault (they do their their best.) Instead of being on prime time TV - but then Tuesday night on the BBC has historically have always been bad - please do not subject us to a second series - if you do then air it after midnight!

  • Comment number 77.

    Well, it seems this series is badly received by those commenting here, however I note there has been some positive reviews in the press. I like this series. It seems to have been made for adults, unlike a lot of Sci Fi on the box. The politics and the interpersonal relations seem well done. The story lines are complex and half way through a lot of issues are unresolved. For example, I imagine that there is some reason why there is no native flora or fauna, particularly with the discovery of the fossil skull in tonight's episode. I'm prepared to suspend judgement on the parts until I've seen the whole. The acting is good too. I'll keep watching, so Mr Richards at least you've got one fan.

  • Comment number 78.

    I liked it and maybe there are some old cliches, my pet hates, American Religious Dictator (too easy target) and irritatingly too clever by half youngster - Welsey Crusher transformation awaits.

    Reminded me of Kim Stanley Robinson's Martian trilogy starting from book 2.

  • Comment number 79.

    Just finished watching episode 4 - genius. I am loving this show - interesting sci-fi plot and this is very well done indeed. Can't wait for more development from Rudi and wouldn't mind a little less Julius Burger - slightly annoying character and we've seen many holier than thou characters in many shows! Main characters - Tate, Cass, Fleur and Stella are excellent.

  • Comment number 80.

    Guys! Give Auntie Beeb a break! Ok, I felt the jury was out in episode 1, but making anything brand new usually takes a bit of time to bed in, set the scene, introduce the charcters, blah de blah. Now that I've seen episodes 1 to 4, I have to say this is way better than the (usually, with a few exceptions) shallow stuff that comes from over the pond. Take a cross section of humanity and put them in a pressure cooker; toss in the threat of extinction (nothing less.) Make the birth rate drop through the floor and spice it all up with some lab rats who got experimented on. Hey, you have a wonderful vehicle for examining our species in all its light and all its darkness. As for the production values, well the mighty dollar brought us Heroes series 1, but then it went on to throw it all away with series 2 and 3. And what about Lost!? 'Nuff said. The fact is that the huge American tv industry spends more capital per minute than Auntie Beeb (in our little island) can spend in a lifetime. (Ok, I'm exaggerating, but you get the picture?) If you are looking for great CGI and a shallow plot, well you know where to look, but if you want thought-provoking stuff made on a smaller budget then you know where to look too. And well done Auntie to blag your way into getting some funding from overseas. Without that you probably wouldn't have been able to make it at all. I for one am looking forward to see where this series takes us, and I bet it won't just go lame and fall over.

  • Comment number 81.

    Ease up on this series guys. I enjoyed it! There are flaws, but it isn't Blake's 7 (thankfully).

    As for not knowing the full history of the discovery and exploration of Carpathia yet - I'd rather learn it as the story progresses. You'll be wanting a "Prologue" style start like the original Star Wars film - the real original one I mean, one released in the 1970's before it was digitally 'remastered'.

    For those of you who want the background of each character told to you beforehand - read the Red Tops and other rags for 'celeb' gossip. And read the soap spoilers!

    I think this might be a bit of a 'slow burn' given the chance - I liked episode 2 especially and 'felt' for the sympathetic AC character in Ep 4 - I'll continue to watch the series.

    Rather than the hit&miss Babylon 5 (remember, we had to wait for ages to discover what happened to Baby's 1 to 4, and the Shadows? really!).

    I think Outcasts is closer in feel to Joss Wheland's excellent and much lamented (at least by me) Firefly. Dirt, rust and grit - no shiny suits and polished spaceships here.

    OK, so Outcasts has not yet reached the heights and consistency of 'Firefly', but give it a chance. Suspend you disbelief and your picking of holes - humans are a bad lot and pioneers are likely to be a motley crew of reprobates and anti-socials.

    OK so the actual science might be a little weak, but this is a TV drama, not Horizon. Who says a new planet should have animal life-forms? Wait and see - there may be something out there? Why are the seeds not germinating? Why are the ACs procreating and the settlers not? And as for the 'fossil' in Ep 4, interesting! Are the answers out there?

    I actually like the 'feel' of Carpathia, the only slightly off-Earth look, the visual effects are rather cool for a modest-budget TV show.

    When I first saw the show I thought - "Finally, the BeeB is doing a Grown-Up scifi."

    Generally, a good start, and hopefully it'll get even better.

  • Comment number 82.

    I note that Ben Richards hasn't been back on with a blue-background post to respond to any of this. Contrast Phil McNulty on the sport blogs, who gets savage stick sometimes, but at least reappears occasionally to defend his point or to acknowledge the validity of a different point of view.

    I think the key line in what I thought was generally a self-indulgent right-on blog was ..."all those long and lonely nights working on the scripts".

    Ben, if that is not in fact an untrue cliche, it may contain the germ of what's gone here in terms of the writing. Why weren't you in a quiet office bouncing ideas off a partner or two, including someone who has watched a lot of SF-TV, and knows why some shows succeed despite having no unlimited cgi budget to paper over any cracks?

    There are several things wrong that Ben had no control over; direction, acting (Cass and Jack, dear oh dear oh dear - though at least Jack's diction is adequate), lack of alienness in the detail of Carpathia (couldn't they afford even one cgi "bird" to go with all the avian sounds?).
    However, the lack of sci-fi grounding beneath the writing and characterisation is basically what has hamstrung this show unless episode 5 springs a massive surprise.

    CodaCoder's point (#69) about "show don't tell" is well made. As well as Alien, I can remember the made-for-TV "Shogun" which dropped you into old Japan along with John Blackthorne and made you sink or swim along with him too. Result; a huge hit and the DVD still a cult seller on Amazon.
    Do the same with Carpathia and yes, you'd lose the pap-fed audience who couldn't handle its jigsaw puzzle nature, but I bet that the curious and wondering who stayed with it, and sold it by word of mouth, would outnumber the size of audience that episode 4 has probably just delivered.

  • Comment number 83.

    Poorest effort ever. Waste of license payers money. Completely boring and poitless

  • Comment number 84.

    I am really enjoying, if not devouring Outcasts. I like the slow build up to the big plots that are now emerging after episode four. The acting from everyone is what I would expect from a top BBC drama. The writing is superb and believable. For example, How the characters are dealing with missing earth and loved ones. I find the relationships between the characters really interesting, expecially between stella and her daughter Lilly. You cant have a happy mother daughter relationship immediately after a 15 year gap. Its very believable. Overall a great addition to BBC One. I cant wait for the rest of the episodes. It has had, in my opinion some unfair negative press, so I hope that Outcasts gets a much deserved second season!

  • Comment number 85.

    Reminds me of a really bad version of the excellent book "Coyote" by Allen Steel. For anyone interested in a story of humans colonising another planet for the first time but who was very disappointed in this boring, unrealistic and underwhelming program, I would highly recommend it.

  • Comment number 86.

    Oh guys, I really wanted to like this drama. The BBC hates Sci-Fi, and thinks that Dr Who is SCi-Fi enough, so I was hoping Outcasts would fill the Sci-Fi Void. It had a good Cast, a cool location, nice camera work, and even the effects were not to bad. After that, things went south.

    The Story, such that it is, contains very little actual Sci-Fi. It resembles more Holby City in space. Each week another minor short story is spun out for an hour. And don't get me started on the script! Why is it that people seem to think you can get away with a shoddy script when it's Sci-Fi - lot's of people stating the obvious, and no banter or light relief.

    Being Human proves that the BBC can do fresh cool fantasy, but Outcasts proves that the Beeb has no idea about Sci-Fi. Such a shame.

    Well, you obvioulsy know you have a turkey, destined for the Sunday Graveyard.

    Now where did I put that BSG box set?

  • Comment number 87.

    I can't believe this - I'm going to defend a BBC drama. I have checked pulse and temperature and all is normal (relative). Generally I think that BBC dramas are formulaic, boring, badly written, use 2 dimensional characters, unbelievable writing (as in: 'I don't believe this') but in this instance I think that Outcasts might have been cast out a little bit prematurely. To those who bemoan this as a bad sci-fi: you are looking at the wrong show - if you want out of this world DO go and watch Star Trek or Start Wars or Survivor or Blake's Seven because Outcasts ain't them so don't expect to see a bar full of aliens playing bizarre instruments bizarrely - you can get that in SE London...

    Ultimately this show is set off world on a new planet offering new hope to our species and tries to deal with what that might be like from a human point of view. What would that be like? WOULD we be able to rebuild and not make the same mistakes?? There's a lot that's similar to Earth and there's a lot that's not and on top of all the dilemas facing new world settlers there is something sinister happening and for me that's the juice... because I've been trying to guess what it is but as yet I have not been able to and last night's ep where the human bones were found threw a right (or left) curve ball. The acting is good with certain characters and not good with others but that's the same in ALL dramas even BAFTA winning ones so we can't really dismiss it because of that. The scripting is fine for what it is and it's what Ben visualises it to be - how many of you have been part of a new colony on another planet?? None so how would you know how people would react and because it's TV we have to suspend our disbelief to engage with this. We have to roll with it. The characters are beginning to become more alive as we get to know then and I have been surprised by what some of them have done which is always pleasing.

    When all is said and done this is a drama which is exploring the human being and all that encompasses on a massive, pivotal, uncharted and unequivocal journey to another world - it's ambitious and I believe it to be quite unique in its approach. One gripe however is what happened on Earth?? Some form of apocalypse is implicit but I'd like more details

  • Comment number 88.

    Dear writers/actors/production people of Outcasts,

    I'm enjoying it!
    The acting isn't wooden, just understated and realistic. Real people don't display masses of emotion at every moment.

    Having now seens 4 episodes, I like how the themes and character histories and plot is unravelling slowly. No 'monster of the week' style writing here, this has been crafted more carfeully than that. The highs and lows of human experience are subtly being woven in, perhaps too subtly for some people to appeciate. I was moved by Tate's speech to the new transport ship in ep 1, I ahve been moved by the drama since then but wont detail in which ways because of spoilers :)

    The lack fo details - like animals, whats going on with earth back home, how their living arrangements are so comfortable - I trust will be explained. If they are not, that's fine too. Not everything can be in a short series like this! Perhaps the viewer might engage their imaginations and fill in some of the gaps themselves? (shock horror!)

    In conclusion, I applaude the BBC for trying something a bit different, I'd rather they made something like outcasts than another poorly thought out comedy show or reality tv slot. Scifi enthusiasts are a difficult bunch of people to please, and this was a good effort given the beeb has only really done dr who recently in this genre.

  • Comment number 89.

    I really enjoyed the start to this series. Be interesting to see where it goes.

  • Comment number 90.

    Compare this to Sky's Mad Dogs and it's shocking how vastly superior a Sky drama is to this BBC rubbish. Never thought i'd say that!

  • Comment number 91.

    I think the Beeb would be better off scraping this waste of money and investing in perhaps a remake of Blakes Seven....or even dare I say....Space 1999 (Obviously they'd have to change it to Space 2099 )

  • Comment number 92.

    I cant believe all these adverse comments, but then I always believe that its those that dont like something which are more likely to say so, while thousands of other people are happily enjoying something and dont feel the need to make comment. I for one am one of those thousands currently enjoying it. One can find fault with any sci fi series especially those with a scraping of science knowledge, but there is clearly a mystery here, something which is happening in the background running alongside the storyline. If you like a good mystery and like a sci fi setting then this is for you. As an old Trekkie I can put hand on heart and say that there are cheesy moments in all the Star Trek series, but I and thousands of other people are still watching them over and over again.

  • Comment number 93.

    Well said, babsp. What are we having for tea tonight?

  • Comment number 94.

    I am watching the show out of curiosity just to see how much worse it can get. It's more fun finding the faults than enjoying (think Vogon poetry) the acting.

    As a Science Fiction fan, I need the science in the show to hang together and it fails miserably. There are simply too many plot holes for me to suspend my disbelief. Ben Richards just doesn't have what it takes to be a good SF writer and it shows.

    Why, oh why, do we have to watch second-rate SF shows on the BBC? They manage the big budget costume drama without any trouble but have a huge blind spot for Science fiction. This is incredibly bad for a state-run TV company.

    And finally when the show gets canned I doubt very much if there will be fan pressure to produce the Outcast equivalent of the Serenity movie.


  • Comment number 95.

    Here's an excerpt from Ben's blog

    "I wanted to explore second chances, most fundamentally whether humanity is genetically hardwired to make the same mistakes again and again.

    The stories that kickstart the series are intense, and hopefully moving, but the world view is never cynical or wilfully pessimistic."

    So....for all the sci-fi whingers out there...where exactly does Ben say that's he's trying to write a sci-fi????

  • Comment number 96.

    this programme should be re-named Carry on Spacemen or even Get Lost in Space.
    It should be an absolute cracker but ends up a damp squib I'm afraid.
    It's not often I fall asleep before the end of a programme but it is just so 'treacley' slow and I have lost my interest the the groups predicament due to extended meaningful glances between the cast members and boredom frankly.

  • Comment number 97.

    freefaller writes: "So....for all the sci-fi whingers out there...where exactly does Ben say that's he's trying to write a sci-fi????"

    Official BBC websites include the following pre-release hype,

    -BBC news, entertainment& arts (13/5/2010)'A sci-fi series which sees humans attempt to populate another planet is being filmed for the BBC'
    - BBC news, entertainment& arts (BEN RICHARDS comment 3/2/2011) "I know there are some cheats - all sci-fi has to cheat or you wouldn't have a drama," he [Ben]says
    -BBC PRESS OFFICE (press packs 21/1/2011) 'A group of courageous pioneers face a unique opportunity... as BBC One's brand new blockbuster sci-fi series Outcasts, created by Ben Richards (Spooks, The Fixer, Party Animals), begins.'
    -Radio 1 (newsbeat headline, 7/2/2011)Outcasts: 'Star of new BBC sci-fi reveals show's secrets'
    -BBC One (homepage CURRENT) 'Outcasts - new sci-fi drama'

    I could add plenty more but you get the point. This always was pitched as Sci fi but the back tracking began when those involved finally started to understand that Outcasts is terrible sci fi (..and terrible drama). Although I noticed another poster on a different site thought it probably gets better in SERIES THREE!

  • Comment number 98.

    babsp writes: "I cant believe all these adverse comments, but then I always believe that its those that dont like something which are more likely to say so, while thousands of other people are happily enjoying something and dont feel the need to make comment. I for one am one of those thousands currently enjoying it."

    The phenomena babsp describes has often been called 'The Silent Majority'. It is often used in connection with elections and the truth of it born out by the voting. babsp's assertion of course could be true, or it could just be that Outcasts is truly bad. The test of which is correct is of course the viewing figures. And guess what? Outcasts has droped from 4.4million viewers to 2.6million in the space of a week. Which is why BBC are moving it from a prime Monday timeslot to a graveyard Sunday slot. The overwhelming public voice and vote is that Outcasts is rubbish. Of course thousands (actually maybe? more than a million or two) will continue to watch, but in TV terms for what this show cost, and was meant to be, thats abysmal.

  • Comment number 99.

    I am a Sci-fi fan. That said almost all TV and film SF is rubbish scientifically, with a few notable exceptions. But that's not the point here. Leaving aside the execrable setting details, lame plot sequences and dialog this THING doesn't even work in its own terms. Ben says: "...I wanted to explore second chances, most fundamentally whether humanity is genetically hardwired to make the same mistakes again and again..."
    The answer is yes of course. We know that. But exploring it, in the terms Ben sets out would require a real feeling of a 'second chance'. THAT's why the silly setting and lame 'science' are so sad. If we could be convinced that these are real pioneers rather than the cast of Eastenders or whatever then maybe you could 'explore' their second chance. They would face NEW threats etc and then we could see that they respond in the good old human way.
    The ridiculous prejudice against Science Fiction (indeed against science itself) at the BEEB is just a reflection of the attitude of those sections of society that a) don't get it; b) think real literachur can only be about sad upper middle class people.

  • Comment number 100.

    I can't believe the anti-Outcasts rage vented on here. I do wonder how many people actually READ SF nowadays; do you actually think the 45-minute episode mass-produced formulaic US TV stuff is the epitome of the genre? Why can't you have a story that takes 8 hours to tell? Why do you need a plot twist every 20 minutes? Why can't the pace be slower than the usual action-movie default pace of the genre? Why slate a mini-series after just 1 or 2 episodes? I applaud the decision to make an intelligent adult SF drama for people with longer-than-average attention spans, and I for one am very much enjoying it. The themes it is introducing are interesting ones such as the moral issues surrounding (necessary) genetic engineering, religious/secular conflict, the psychological impact of space colonisation and so on.

    I don't want flashy, grandstanding acting. These folks aren't superheroes, they are just normal people. If you want to see 'normal' people act like that watch a soap-opera. This is subtle, nuanced and realistic. In fact like all good drama should be. I enjoy shades of grey and am I really the only one to be intrigued by the characters of Tate or Julius and the way the whole plot is shaping up?

    The 'plot holes' people speak of are minor, have no real bearing on the main story, and compared to most SF shows are insignificant. It is intrinsic to the plot that the colony was a last throw of the dice for humanity's survival in the face of some catastrophe, so of course they wouldn't have had time to plan every last detail of the mission!

    People who are complaining about the science are also way off the mark - there is no reason why the planet shouldn't look like Earth's grasslands - after all grass is one of the simplest forms of life on land so if anything is going to evolve something like that would be the most likely. And surely the absence of familiar things like flying animals (or indeed any animals) and the odd things like strange electrical storms just adds to the alienness? Are you seriously suggesting that loads of money should be spent on making the actors look as though they bounce up and down a bit when they walk? No other serious SF show does that. Why shouldn't the gravity/atmospheric composition be similar to Earth, surely that would be a pretty fundamental requirement of any new colony? Some people have trouble coping with the fact that it only takes 5 years to get there. Hello? Most of your favourite shows would do it in a day or two. And have you never heard the phrase 'moving clocks run slow?' It's not just a piece of nonsense you know!

    And since when has SF been about the science itself anyway? The whole point of the genre is to study humanity's reaction to changes in science, technology and society, which is what this show is about.

    So yes, the first episode could have lost the exposition - giving it the space of 90 minutes instead of 60 would have helped here, and it is strange that all the survivors from Earth are British, but other than that I think the main reason people hate this is because it is not Star Trek crossed with Holby City. And that's why I like it.


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