Writer: Neil Jones, David Allison and Chris Parker
Director: Fraser Macdonald
The One Where: Paramedic Ellie wants to know why she’s seeing dead people, and the answer appears to concern a place formerly known as Bedlam Heights…
Verdict: After a first series that left as many viewers baffled as it did entertained, Bedlam is back with a bang. Ok, there’s not much bang, but it definitely is back, so I was at least half right.
Ellie (Lacey Turner, the ex- Eastender who loves to dip a toe in fantastical waters) is seeing dead people. That’s never a good thing - especially when you’re a paramedic - but she’s convinced her visions are real. It’s a conviction that causes her to lose her fiancé and find her way to Bedlam Heights in pursuit of Jed, a former patient who fans of the show will know only too well suffered from the same affliction.
Arriving at the foreboding ex-asylum with nothing but an enormous scarf to keep her company, Ellie swiftly makes the acquaintance of the whole Bedlam crew, new and old alike, as she attempts to get to the root of her problem. As befitting the start of a new series, there are changes afoot all over the place at Bedlam Heights, not least if Dan (Nikesh Patel) has anything to do with it. He’s the resident lady killer and PR guru who has decided to rebrand the creepy old building as Brightmoor, a reassuringly expensive apartment complex. Max (Jack Roth) is another new face, a barman and part-time ghost hunter who takes Ellie under his wing and joins returning characters Warren (Hugo Speer) and Kate (Charlotte Salt), recently returned from her travels and determined to move on from all the creepy shenanigans.
The main issue with this episode is that it’s all a little limp. It’s well shot, which gives proceedings a glossy sheen, but there’s little substance behind the style. The scares aren’t particularly scary, the script isn't particularly snappy, and it’s all a bit underwhelming really. There are hints towards more interesting things to come, particularly in the shape of the nasty looking branded baldy who appears every now and then, so hopefully things will pick up. Ultimately, when compared to something like The Fades , that other home-grown fantasy horror full of young faces that the BBC in all its wisdom cancelled, Bedlam comes off very poorly indeed. Still, with an opening episode as curiously lacklustre as this, things can only get better. Right?
Backbeat: It’s amazing how angry bearded men can get, especially when they’re dead. It must be something to do with the extra heat generated by all that face fluff. Anyway, this week’s flashback to Bedlam’s dodgy past involved a suicidal inmate who wasn’t too pleased to have his afterlife interrupted.
Best line: Max: “Revenant – it’s my preferred term. Ghost is a little bit Patrick Swayze.”