To lose one of your lead actors can be regarded as misfortune. To lose two might be called ratings-threatening carelessness. “Yes, it’s been quite a slog,” chuckles Toby Whithouse, creator and writer of Being Human.
With the death of Aidan Turner’s charismatic vampire Mitchell at the climax of last year’s run, Whithouse already had a big, bloodsucking void to fill. Then, three months ago, Russell Tovey announced that he too would soon be off to pastures new (as would Sinéad Keenan, who played Tovey’s girlfriend Nina), leaving spectre Annie (Lenora Crichlow) as the only member of the original troika.
Surely Whithouse had barely the ghost of a chance of keeping his brilliant invention on track for the fourth series? “To be honest, I approached it much the same way as writing any series,” he insists. “We had to remind ourselves that the essential DNA of the show was remaining exactly the same.
“Much as we loved them, the show wasn’t called Mitchell, George and Annie. It was a flatshare about three complex and isolated characters who existed on the fringes of a society that hated them, and yet one they felt they had to protect.”
So Whithouse concentrated on retaining his invention’s “important elements” while “adding new voices” to tell the story. Thus in the opening episode of the new series we meet a new domestically cosy vampire/werewolf/ghost trio, and a fresh coven of vampires headed up by Alex Jennings’s evil copper. We also get a beefed-up role for young werewolf Tom (Michael Socha).
Still, as Tovey says, Being Human is the show where the normal rules of earthbound drama don’t apply… George can always come back. “Yeah, we’re a bit like a Mexican daytime soap,” says Whithouse. “People can return from the dead at any moment.”
A new series of Being Human starts tonight at 9:00pm on BBC3
This is an edited version of an article in the issue of Radio Times magazine published 31 January 2012