Monday, 1 March 2010

Being Human

So, last night was the season 2 finale - or as we used to call it in non-America, the last in the present series - of BBC3's sci-fi comedy drama, Being Human. I'm not sure if 'sci-fi comedy drama' is its official categorisation, but that's what it is to me. At 8.55 pm, I assembled my traditional accompaniments to scheduled TV viewing - a nice cup of tea and some snacks (tiffin, homemade, if you really want to know) and settled down in front of the fire for some Sunday night viewing pleasure. A few moments in and the appearance of Amy McBride (deceased, a lot) had put me off my victuals, but had also kicked off another hour of quite wonderful television.

I love this series. Let us get that straight from the start. Like most other people, I watch telly most days. Some of what I watch, I even like. Lots of it, however, I switch off halfway through, from sheer boredom. The glut of reality shows showcasing idiots and fools clambering over and trampling the perma-tanned, scantily-clad bodies of their contemporaries to snatch their 15 minutes of fame has become staple TV fodder these days, to the shame of us all, participants and views alike. And then there's the plodding, over-sentimental 'drama' - Wild at Heart, anyone? Good God, what is wrong with Stephen Tompkinson? Must he play a whining git in everything he does? Does the man have a whining clause in his contract that states he must moan, grumble, complain and look downtrodden at least three times a minute? He's a vet, he's a priest, he's a children's entertainer – but whatever he is, you can bet he's a miserable bastard. This series must surely end with the other vet in Wild at Heart (Lexy from Monarch in the Glen – it was difficult to find a more annoying part than that, but you did it) putting him out of his misery. They wouldn’t let an animal suffer like that, oh no. Amazingly, Amanda Holden left that show and it still hasn't improved. This is a feat which, had I not seen it with my own eyes, I would have thought impossible.

I digress. In short, the number of shows about which I get truly excited these days is few. It is increasingly rare to find the kind of show for which you wait all week in anticipation; that you just can't wait to watch. The kind of show that you actually think about all day before it’s on; a show with plots you theorise about with your friends; a show that you watch and really, genuinely don’t know what’s going to happen next. And then afterwards, a show which makes you feel desolate that it’s over; you cannot possibly wait a whole week for the next instalment. You will simply fade away and die if you have to wait that long for the next episode, and you know that if you were Stephen Tompkinson,* the Eeyore of Light Entertainment, you’d never even manage to bed Dervla Kirwan, so morose you would be.

But Being Human is one such show. It is so much more than a sci-fi show about a ghost, a vampire and a werewolf. Don't get me wrong, that sounds good to geeks like me. But it does nothing to convey the brilliant depth of Being Human. The characters are neither good, nor evil. All of them are both. All of them are just trying to live, and do what they feel to be right. Who are the monsters? The vampires, the werewolves – or the people? Maybe none of them. Maybe all of them. Brilliantly written, even the most objectionable characters can inspire pity in the viewer; even the best loved can inspire disgust. The humour – though little of it was in evidence last night – is so sharp and rings so true, and the characters so rounded, so fully drawn that their plights seem all too plausible and it is simply impossible not to have empathy with them. Even though a lot of the time, you can't quite decide whose side you should be on - or even whose side you ARE on.

There is to be another series, thank God. Or perhaps the Devil. Or just Toby Whithouse. How I will fill my time between now and then, I cannot yet bear to think. The months stretch in front of me, Mitchell-free, like a yawning abyss of despair. All I know for sure is that in my Being Human-less misery, there is a level of hopelessness to which even I will not sink. Repeats of Ballykissangel, I exorcise thee.

*And if it were 1996.


  1. Your mistake is allowing the TV to tune to The Other Side. ITV is BANNED in this house. It's Auntie Beeb for us.

    You are so right though, Being Human is just plain wonderful. Wonder if the DVD is out yet.

  2. Well I have to have ITV on sometimes, for Coronation Street.

    And to remind me why I don't really mind paying a licence fee.