Being Human TV Series Brings Monsters To Life

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Being Human was a 2009 BBC series about a vampire, a werewolf, and a ghost trying to live normal lives in human society. PETULA MITCHELL takes a look back at the series’ first episode and explores its unique premise

Russell Tovey, Aidan Turner and Lenora Crichlow in Being Human
Russell Tovey, Aidan Turner and Lenora Crichlow in Being Human

In 2009 on BBC 3, something very different hit the TV screens of the UK. Being Human caught the imagination as being the story of three very unusual house-mates. Written by Toby Whitehouse, the main characters were a vampire, a ghost and a werewolf. It sounded like very unusual piece of entertainment.

Being Human had already had a pilot programme made, and after airing it the BBC had decided that they would go no further with the project, However, a petition signed by 3000 viewers and another look at the scripts made the powers that be rethink that decision and they commissioned the first series.  

The Being Human cast from the pilot was updated, and the main protagonists were played by Aidan Turner as Mitchell (the vampire) Rus,sell Tovey as George (the werewolf) and Lenora Critchlow as Annie (the ghost). As the series progressed, an ensemble of excellent actors would join the series, notably Jason Watkins as Herrick (leader of the vampires) who appeared in 13 episodes.

Filmed in Bristol for the first two series,  in the Totterdown area and at Bristol General Hospital, the first episode sets the scene and background of the three main characters.

Mitchell and George both work as porters in the hospital. They are just trying to earn a living and fit in doing low key jobs. However this does not come without complications. 

George was transformed into his current state after being attacked by a werewolf while on a camping trip. The person he was with died from their injuries, but George survived. At full moon George has to try to find somewhere safe to transform into the terrible beast he is cursed with.

 The old cellar at the hospital contains a Victorian isolation ward, long abandoned, but still with sturdy metal doors and locks. Georges main concern is that he doesn’t attack, and therefore pass on the curse, to anyone else. In his human form George is a gentle soul, socially a little awkward and the thought that he is capable of killing or maiming another person horrifies him. 

This has worked well since his friend and co-worker, Mitchell, assists him by locking him in the cell overnight during the full moon and returning to release him in the morning. However, on this particular occasion it turns out builders have moved in to start renovation work and this secure spot is no longer useable. 

George goes to Mitchell in a complete panic, and after trying to find a spot out in the countryside devoid of humans, unsuccessfully, he undergoes the transformation in the house. Mitchell and Annie sit outside on the doorstep while George completely destroys the downstairs of the house. Only a small TV that Mitchell has nursed on his lap all night, survives the terrible rage of the werewolf. 

While George is coping with this disruption to his routine, Mitchell is fighting his urges to kill. This has not been entirely successful. He hates what he has become, and is trying to be ‘on the wagon’. However, a vampire that does not kill and feed becomes weaker and weaker, and eventually the urge to survive overcomes the revulsion of his own actions. We find that his most recent victim has been a young nurse called Lauren.

A memorial service is held for her at the hospital, in the form of a tree planting ceremony, attended by George and Mitchell. It turns out that George was friendly with Lauren and is deeply saddened by her loss. While Mitchell is out on a date with another colleague, a resurrected Lauren turns up at the bar he is in. Picked up on the point of death by some of Herrick’s followers  she has been initiated into the fold of the vampires. As they had infiltrated the Bristol police force, they were the first officials on the scene of her attack. 

Now Lauren confronts Mitchell about not only what he has turned her into, but why he left her. Through this interaction we find out that Mitchell used to be Herrick’s right hand man and a leading light in the vampire fold. His back story stretches back to the trenches of World War 1, where Herrick and his followers were finding easy pickings amongst the soldiers on all sides.

Mitchell comes across a group of them trying to pick off his company of men, and negotiates sacrificing himself so long as his men go free. He does not realise the consequences of this selfless action, and embarks on an afterlife of hedonism and murder. When it comes to light that his latest victim, Lauren, is someone they knew and worked with George is distraught. The rule of ‘nobody we know, not our friends’ has been broken.

We also see the first interaction between Mitchell and Herrick. After chasing off Seth, a vampire, from the bedside of a dying patient Mitchell wants to make it clear that the vulnerable patients in the hospital are out of bounds . Herrick wants Mitchell to return to his old life and it turns out that they had been partners in murder over many decades.

Herrick knows that a vampire has to kill eventually or fade away and die themselves. He is always in the background, waiting for Mitchell to fall. He also intimates a plan, to come out of the shadows and give humanity the choice to become one of them. The temptation of eternal life, but at what cost?

Meanwhile, in the house, this is the domain of Annie the ghost in the trio. She has been stuck in the house since she died by falling down the stairs and breaking her neck. The terrible realisation that she had passed and could no longer be seen by the living had left her feeling very distressed and lonely. The house, owned by her fiancé, has been let by him a few times and tenants haven’t been able to settle there. They cited a spooky atmosphere and had all left. 

However, George and Mitchell could actually see Annie, accept her existence as being as strange as their own and she is now part of a household again, with beings that see her as real. This has changed something about her and some people can actually also see her. She relishes being able to interact with people again, but the main person she wants to talk to is her fiancé Owen, who seems to remain impervious to her presence. 

She tries to sabotage the plumbing in the house so he has to keep coming to and fro to make repairs. On one visit he brings his new girlfriend, Janie, along, as she is curious to see the property. This is deeply wounding to Annie, as she had known the woman in life and didn’t particularly like her. 

By the end of Being Human’s episode one the scene has been set of these complex characters. Overwhelmingly, the main theme is about trying to fit in to society. How does it work when you are not the same as the people around you? How can you be a square peg in the round hole of life? How can you take control of what you are and be human again? 

What do you think of Being Human? Tell us your thoughts in the comments section below!

Watch Being Human TV Series Trailer

1 COMMENT

  1. Absolutely LOVED Being Human. The 3 original main characters were perfect in their roles, & Jason Watkins was excellent as Herrick. It lost its edge when the original actors moved on & different characters were introduced. It kept me happy for many an episode, especially Aidan Turner in his leather jacket 😉

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