Russell T Davies on why he’ll never do a Years and Years series 2

The writer of BBC1's dystopian drama says he never wants to resolve the finale's emotional cliffhanger

The cast and crew of Years and Years at the Radio Times Festival. Standing: Rory Kinnear, T’Nia Miller, director Simon Cellan Jones, Russell T Davies, Anne Reid, Maxim Baldry and Russell Tovey. Sitting: executive producer Nicola Shindler, Lydia West, Ruth Madeley and Jade Alleyne (Radio Times)

Spoilers ahead

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From nuclear war, electronic brain implants and a tyrannical British Prime Minister, Years and Years made some very bold predictions about what to expect in the next decade and a half. But however dystopian the near future might look, could it also include a second series of Russell T Davies’ staggering BBC1 drama?

According to the writer himself: absolutely not. “It always was a one-off,” Davies tells RadioTimes.com. “Even way back in production it was never discussed in terms of a second series.”

And one of the key reasons why lies with the fate of Edith, the main rebel of the Lyons family who finally succumbs to the lethal dose of radiation she absorbed in the nuclear blast of episode one.

During the finale’s close, Jessica Hynes’ character undergoes Transhuman treatment, an operation aiming to upload her memories to the cloud and maintain her consciousness after death. However, viewers never find out if the process works: the finale cuts to black before we find out if Edith lives on.

And Davies wants this mystery to remain forever unsolved. “I will never answer that question,” he said. “That’s the end. That’s the last episode. [A second series would mean] I’d have to decide the Edith question and I would never want to do that.”

The Lyons family at the close of Years and Years: Celeste (T'Nia Miller), Fran (Sharon Duncan-Brewster), Viktor (Maxim Baldry), Stephen (Rory Kinnear), Ruby (Jade Alleyne), Muriel (Anne Reid)
The Lyons family at the close of Years and Years: Celeste (T’Nia Miller), Fran (Sharon Duncan-Brewster), Viktor (Maxim Baldry), Stephen (Rory Kinnear), Ruby (Jade Alleyne), Muriel (Anne Reid)

But that’s not the only reason Davies says Years and Years won’t return. “The show goes 15 years in the future and that’s when cars and things would really start to change beyond all recognition. Life would be so different that we’d need a different budget for it – it would be a different and very expensive show.

“Years and Years has reached its limit. It’s just time to stop.”

There’s also the problem of the series’ viewing figures. Despite rave reviews – publications like Radio Times praising the “extraordinary” drama – the show’s debut audience of 2.39 million slumped to 1.29 million for episode three.

“Let’s be honest, the viewing figures aren’t that good anyway, so even if we’d planned for a second series I don’t think we’d be getting it,” said Davies.

“But it was always one. As proof of that, the cast aren’t under contract for future series. I think it’s probably how we got such a good cast: we always planned to end there.”

Yet, fans of the show might have a tiny glimmer of hope: when asked, Davies didn’t completely rule out that he’d write a spin-off of Years and Years in 2034, when the drama concludes.

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“Well, I’m not going to stop writing, so who knows?” he laughed. “Edith the Digital Ghost. Wouldn’t that be a marvellous show?”