Being Human – The characters are the secret but not the key

A while ago, I tagged on the end of a mish-mash post a paragraph about Being Human. The fourth series had yet to start, and I was speculating on whether it would be any good – given that significant cast members were going to change. I’ve always liked the show, watched it since the beginning, and been impressed with how they have embraced the online world. The blog, in particular, this year has kicked things up a notch with exclusive scenes, bonus goodies after each episode, and some kind of scroll/parchment game that I have not invested in but like the idea of anyway.

Now that the fourth series is over, and it’s been recommissioned for a fifth, it’s fair to say that it succeeded in the mission to move on from the core characters. I don’t intend to spoil any major plot lines here, but in terms of cast movements, if you’re still catching up with Being Human, you might want to look away now.

The fourth series was incredible, to my eyes one of the very best. The writing has always been strong and Toby Whithouse is a master of making the mundane situation interesting. With such a high concept – ghost, werewolf, vampire living in a house together, there’s always going to be blood, mystery, suspense and action, but it was the downtime that really made the series what it was. Those three characters sitting on the sofa, drinking Annie’s tea, and talking about what it was to be human.

How could it possibly work without the three same stars? Well, we had already been introduced to the concept of changing the make-up of the leads, when Nina became a full-time regular character. She had never been intended to stay as long as she did, but she was welcomed with open arms and became part of the gang. However, with Aidan Turner leaving to be a dwarf or a hobbit or something, a more sizable switch was going to have to happen.

There was also a brief surprise at the start of this fourth with the departure of George and Nina, leaving behind them baby Eve. Only Annie remained of the original three, with werewolf Tom sticking around from the third series.

The Being Human world expanded massively this series, and was so much the better for it. An entirely separate ghost/werewolf/vampire trio were introduced, with only one sticking it out for the long haul. By the end of the series, it became obvious Annie was on the way out, and in her place, a new ghostly friend.

So, along the path of series four, we have always had some combination of the three supernaturals to keep the original premise going strong. There was one point where Annie, Tom and Hal were sitting on the sofa and I thought this was just going to be stupid, trying to directly replace those who had gone before was never going to work.

But, by the end, when we had a new cast of three, sitting in the house and pondering the future, it worked. Somehow, Toby has managed to find the right balance. The cast aren’t thrown off completely like Skins, their heritage, their influence and their story continues on, even if they aren’t there to do so. Equally, the changes aren’t happening without acknowledging the difference, like the problem with the Sugababes. They changed a cast member at a time until they had a totally different lineup but became a laughing stock as they did so. Being Human has avoided that.

The stories are great, the scripts are incredible, and it’s impossible to pay enough tribute to the acting. Hal and Tom, in particular. I enjoyed this series much more than the others because it didn’t feel as dark and depressing. The first episode was tough, but after that it became more manageable. The angst and emotional wranglings of our characters over the previous two series have worn me down, but this fourth has perked me up again.

A fifth has been given the green light, so we will see the return of our new trio. I hope the episodes can continue on in the same fashion, my faith in Being Human has been restored. And I’m glad they found a suitable way to ditch Eve, because the baby was holding everyone back a bit. As soon as I saw the rota, I knew her days were numbered. Hopefully the same can’t be said for Being Human as a whole.