Neil Maskell: Utopia was too “London-centric” to survive

The actor, currently appearing in Humans, thinks that the cult Channel 4 show may have been cancelled after two series because it alienated viewers outside of the capital


While he’s currently appearing in Humans as policeman Pete Drummond, Neil Maskell is best known for his role in sci-fi drama Utopia.


The actor played wheezing hitman-turned-hero Arby in the cult Channel 4 series – and Drummond has some ideas about why it came to an abrupt halt after two series, ending on a cliffhanger.

“I’m very proud of Utopia and think it was a great thing to be involved in, but people didn’t watch it and past two series you can’t keep asking for the money,” Maskell told while on the set of Humans.

“I think maybe it was London-centric or something. It’s like that series Nathan Barley by Charlie Brooker and Chris Morris; someone said to me no one watched that because it was so ‘in’. You got it if you were in our industry and you had contact with advertising people.

“But if you worked in a factory everyday and you lived just outside Wigan you wouldn’t know who these people were and why they were funny.  Maybe Utopia had elements of that. The media set made it feel like it was a much more popular programme than it was.”

Written by playwright Dennis Kelly, the series was about a group of young people attempting to bring down a deadly conspiracy, with cast including Alexandra Roach, Nathan Stewart-Jarrett, Rose Leslie and Adeel Akhtar (who was nominated for a Bafta for his performance in series two).

The series was popular with critics, but dwindling ratings led Channel 4 to pull the plug and leave some of the story unresolved, despite Kelly’s efforts to finish Utopia with a one-off finale.

“I know that Dennis was keen to do an hour and a half or two hour special to wrap it up and I do think – perhaps this is too strong a term to use – it was a betrayal of those people that gave you 12 hours of their lives in watching it,” Maskell went on.

“To say that we’re moving on and we’re doing something else now, that seems callous to me. So that’s slightly annoying.  But I do also understand that you can’t keep banging out six-part series for millions of quid when it’s only watched by nine people who love it, so that’s what you get.”


Humans is on Channel 4 on Sundays at 9.00pm