Arrg kxrrt!


Being Humane

In which we watched Being Human

After the post last week, I felt we really should watch Being Human, the new BBC3 series set largely in Totterdown. We were, I have to say, pleasantly surprised.

I’m not going to summarise the plot here, other than: it’s a fantasy version of the classic sitcom plot. Three oddball characters who are stuck with each other – a vampire and a werewolf who are trying to appear human, who have managed to rent a haunted house.* If it is a sitcom, though, it’s the sort I’d like to write myself: the sort without very many jokes in.**

Some things were a little overused – the heavy heartbeat when Mitchell The Vampire’s blood-lust attacks came on; and the post-production effect used to make skies look darker and more interesting. Some of the mechanics of the worldbuilding don’t quite make sense, either.*** But, overall, the series was remarkably subtle and realistic. For something involving almost-immortal beasts, of course. Moreover, unlike the trailer, the characters, not the backdrop, were its main focus. It might have obviously-recognisable locations – the Totterdown house, the General Hospital, St Nick’s Market**** – and it might have bit-part actors with local accents; but so far, it could have been set anywhere. It didn’t rely on the location for anything.

I can guess how the series is going to go from here. The real test, I suppose, comes with: just how well the minor characters are treated. Will Herrick, or Lauren, become just as full a character as Mitchell? What about Annie’s fiance?***** We’ll watch it, because we’ll be intrigued to find out. And, of course, just in case, we spot anyone we know lurking in the background of a shot.

* A former grocery store on the corner of Windsor Terrace. It has pub-type glass in the front window, but as far as I can find out it was never actually a pub.

** This is a good thing; and we’re lucky that Being Human was made by the BBC’s Cardiff drama section, and not by the people responsible for the awful laugh-tracked sitcoms that pass for entertainment on BBC3.

*** Actually, Vampire Civil Wars are an interesting argument to overcome the usual objection to vampires: if they’re immortal, and all their victims became vampires, then why didn’t we get to an I Am Legend-type situation about three weeks after they first evolved? Not being up on vampire-based literature, I don’t know if anyone else has ever covered it. They must have, at some point.

**** We did both shout out “Pie shop!” when George The Werewolf ran through the market and past the Pieminister stall

***** It confirms something I’ve thought for a long time, incidentally: ghost stories really can be the saddest stories in the world.

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5 comments on “Being Humane”

  1. Lyle says:

    re *** – Most of the stuff I’ve read gets round that by making it that the victims of vampires only become vampires if they’re left with a spark of life in them.

    Therefore, if [Vampire] eats/drinks [Person] completely dry, and/or breaks the neck (or some other fatal wound) then [Person]!=[New Vampire]

    As such, creation of new vampires is either
    a) Accidental (leaving a victim half-eaten, or being disturbed in the act)
    b) Intentional (coven-building etc.)

    I read too many vampire novels, don’t I?

  2. Clair says:

    I think the Being Human vampire scenario is the same as the Anne Rice one, in that it requires reverse drinking by the victim in order to make a new vampire. I think.

    But I was quite impressed with the show too, looking forward to the next episode.

  3. Forest Pines says:

    K pointed the Anne Rice parallel too, actually. I didn’t; but then, I’ve never read any of her vampire books.

  4. Ian says:

    You wondered if 1 Windsor Terrace had been a pub at one time. I can tell you definately no, I believe it started out as a butchers/slaughter house, there’s some creepy cellars there. It then went through varios incarnations as shops, predominantly fruit and veg stuff. I know this as in the early 90s I worked for Bristol CC and dealt with south Bristol for renovation grants. The then owner od 1 Windsor made application fopr a grant which was refused, he took the council to the House of Lords on appeal, he lost we won! I think, as I left Bristol soon after (no link) the place remained run-down until the present owner renovated the whole thing.

    Just as an aside I also oversaw the work on the property that was used for The Young Ones, ironically to provide fire protection and to convert it into a ‘house in multiple occupation’ I don’t remember the address of the place but that was north of the river.

    Bored yet? well I’m done anyway, apart from saying that ‘Being Human’ looks to be a good watch.



  5. Forest Pines says:

    Not bored at all – thank you!

    I looked on the Planning Portal website, and in some old copies of Kelly’s Directory, and saw that it had been a shop at one time, but not a pub. Two things made me wonder. Firstly the glass now in one of the front windows is old-fashioned pub-style etched glass with “Wines & Spirits” on it. Secondly, since I first posted about Being Human I’ve had several people come to the site because they’ve searched the internet for phrases like “name of old pub in Totterdown used in Being Human”.

    Thanks for the information, though – I’m always interested in the history of places.

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