When your television drama has been built around a solid core of three passionate, mesmerizing characters who are all tightly bound to each other, losing two out of your three series might seem like a mortal blow to a project you've poured you soul into for five years. But Toby Whithouse, the creator of Being Human, realized he needed to see it as an opportunity.
Last year the BBC has ordered eight episodes of Being Human season 4, to air on BBC Three in 2012. But with the series so transformed by the departures of Aidan Turner (who played the conflicted vampire Mitchell) and, soon, of Russell Tovey, who plays werewolf George, leaving only Lenora Crichlow as ghost Annie from the original cast, what would a new season of what started out as Mitchell, George, and Annie's story even look like?
Paths and Turning Points
The goal, Whithouse later told DigitalSpy, would be "to re-establish...relatively soon in series four" the essential idea -- a vampire, a werewolf, and a ghost living together.
"We knew this year was going to be especially tough because of the various cast changes," Whithouse wrote last week in his blog. "Not only would it be our first series without Aidan, but Russell had decided his "Being Human" journey was also coming to an end. The mountain before us seemed even higher than usual.
"But another way of looking at it was that Series 4 was a blank page. And speaking as someone who has had to face a blank page pretty much every day for the last thirteen or so years, I saw it as an opportunity: We could create new characters, expand the show in different directions, create new worlds and monsters and heroes. Once we started looking at it like that, it became a genuinely thrilling prospect."
A New Team
Rather than dwell on the past, Whithouse has laid season 4 on the foundation of a new trio. In addition to Lenora Crichlow, who continues as ghost Annie, Damien Molony joins the team as vampire Hal, and Michael Socha (previously seen as the young werewolf Tom) is promoted to lead. The publicity stills for the new season, with the new stars in front and Russell Tovey off to the side looking like he's having a rough time of it, spell out the new strategy. (Well, how would you look if you've had to kill your best friend to keep him from being enslaved by the dark commissars of the vampire world?)
From all appearances Russell Tovey's George, appearing in some part of the eight episodes, is being freed from the steadiness demanded of a regular lead and allowed to exit with a bang, much as Douglas Henshall left Primeval partway through season 3 after the new team had been established there, or Matthew Macfadyen got a big blow-out from MI-5 (a.k.a. Spooks), also after the weight had shifted to new stars in that show's third season.
"The thing I'm most proud of is the new set of characters," Whithouse wrote. "Damien Molony joins the team as Hal. Hand on heart, I think he's one of the most exciting and versatile actors of his generation. Watching his performance grow over the filming was a joy. Then there's Michael Socha. Promoted from semi-reg to lead cast. If you thought he was good in Series 3, you ain't seen nothing yet. Michael will break your heart this year. And of course beautiful Lenora. Our star. The heart of the show. And this year she gives a truly breathtaking performance."
The other onetime regular, Sinead Keenan, will not be returning as the werewolf Nina.
The Eve of War
Season 4 also looks to escalate the fight against the vampire contingent. But the stories won't be wall-to-wall war, as Hal, Annie, and Tom will also be encountering "a sort-of new kind of supernatural" creature, according to Whithouse's veiled blog commentary.
And Hal will have some distractions, Molony said in the fall. The Irish actor's "posh" vampire Hal will eventually have a love interest. "There is romance, yeah, but I won't say too much about it," Molony told SFX. "Towards the end of the series, a love interest comes in, which was fun to shoot." He added that the storyline "will be very funny, I hope. Funny for the audience, not my character."
The supporting cast for this new era is also new names leavened by the occasional familiar face from the show's past. Several castin decisions have been announced, including:
- Doctor Who writer and Sherlock star and co-creator Mark Gatiss,
- Harry Potter's Mark Williams (Arthur Weasley) as a character named Regus,
- Craig Roberts (Submarine) reprising his role as teen vampire Adam from season 1,
- Alex Jennings (Prince Charles in The Queen),
- James Lance (No Heroics, Teachers),
- Alex Griffin as Griffin,
- Andrew Gower as Cutler,
- Amanda Abbington (Case Histories),
- Selina Griffiths (Benidorm), and
- Ellie Kendrick (Upstairs Downstairs, Anne in the recent Masterpiece miniseries The Diary of Anne Frank).
Being Human season 4 was filmed in late summer and early fall of 2011. A broadcast date on BBC Three has not yet been announced.