Being Human (BBC3)

Review by Stephen Theaker A devilishly handsome vampire, a socially awkward werewolf and a heartbroken ghost share a house, but despite the set-up this isn't a sitcom, it's a very unusual drama.

The tone is similar to that of Torchwood, but the mixture of humour, action, sex and blood-drenched drama is much more effective here. There’s a definite Stuart and Vince vibe to the vampire/werewolf relationship; a slightly uneasy, co-dependent friendship between a lion and a lamb. The house-sharing brings This Life into the mix, and the ongoing plot (the vampires are up to something shady) gives it the widescreen scope of Ultraviolet or True Blood.

In the Radio Times Jack Seale said of this show that ‘the metaphor of werewolves, ghosts and vampires as outcasts works well’, and to that extent this reviewer would agree with him wholeheartedly. He then added that ‘Toby Whithouse is surely good enough to cast away that crutch and write about real people’.

Readers will probably come to their own conclusions about that statement (if only Stephen King would stick to social realism…), but it’s notable that Whithouse doesn’t force us to see this world through the eyes of ‘real people’. He doesn’t patronise or bore us with a Myers: he chucks us straight into the thick of the action, right into the middle of this strange, dark world. Our only friends are the monsters from whom we should really be running away.

One thing that has let Being Human down ever so slightly is the finished werewolf costume, but those are notoriously difficult to get right (it’s no worse than the one in Ginger Snaps). On the other hand, the transformation effects are excellent, and the way the change is described is brilliantly appalling: every organ in his body fails, all at once, before ripping themselves apart and into new shapes…

A highly promising start to the series. Shame we didn’t get to see any more of Phoo Action, though.

This review originally appeared in the December 2008 issue of Being Human (two or three episodes into the series).