Being Human "Hold The Front Page" TV REVIEW

Close encounters of the fifth type

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Close encounters of the fifth type

THE ONE WHERE Adam returns, on the run from the press with his new partner… who turns out to be a succubus.

VERDICT This episode is something a game of two halves. The first half is uproariously funny. That’s partly down to the welcome return of Craig Roberts, shamelessly channeling Ricky Gervais as fortysomething-in-a-teen’s-body Adam, who is as outrageously filthy as ever (“I’ve licked every inch of that real estate”). But it’s also due to the more gentle humour stemming from Yvonne, the unwitting succubus. Her old-fogey vocabulary (“bunkum” and “poppycock”) and schoolmarmy manner (calling Adam a “brave soldier”; threatening to “wash his mouth out with soap”) are hugely amusing. It's a brilliant bit of writing.

The competition between Hal, Tom and Adam for Yvonne’s affections is also very funny. True, that’s a card Being Human has played quite a few times this series (we had Annie and Pearl competing in episode two, then Tom and Hal competing in episode three), but it works, so who cares? Tom’s “sudden death” is also shocking – although only for a split-second; it’s so abrupt that it’s immediately obvious that Hal is still dreaming.

The more serious second half isn't quite as convincing. Yvonne is rather quick to embrace her true nature, and the relationship between Adam and Yvonne makes sense on one side – he’s beguiled by her siren powers – but not the other; there’s a logic gap there which they never quite manage to vault. Yes, Yvonne can have sex with Adam without killing him (which is certainly a plus), but how on Earth did the relationship begin ? Adam may have a fortysomething soul, but he’s also (as Annie puts it) “a little twat”. Yes, Yvonne tells us that Adam is “sweet and kind”, but we see little real evidence of that. And Adam’s little speech from behind the door doesn’t quite pack the necessary emotional wallop. All this means that while the two work as a comedy duo, they don’t really convince as a real couple. As a result, Being Human ’s introduction of a Type Five isn’t quite as successful as last year’s zombie episode.

COLOUR ME BAFFLED What’s all this business about Tom building a swimming pool in the back garden? Does anyone understand that?

IT’S WOSSERNAME! If Selina Griffiths (Yvonne) seems familiar but you’re struggling to place her, it might be because you saw her in The Smoking Room , Cranford or Benidorm ... or because she’s the daughter of Annette Crosbie, who played Victor Meldrew’s long-suffering wife in One Foot In the Grave . The similarity between their voices is quite striking.

FEATURED MUSIC (SORT OF) Hal sings a quick snatch of The Four Tops’ “Reach Out I’ll Be There” .

NITPICKS Quite a few characters have a common-sense bypass in this episode. Why isn’t the fact that Yvonne can see Annie treated more seriously? Considering that they’ve got the safety of Eve to think about, you’d think they’d treat her with extreme suspicion. And journalist Pete is a bit dim, considering how knowledgeable he is about vampires. Yes, painting a crucifix on the door will trap one, but wouldn’t it have been a good idea to have a stake handy, just in case?

Oh, and award yourself a special certificate for eagle-eyed pedantry if you spotted the typo on one of the newspaper front pages at the end ("Forcasts").

LOCATION LOCATION LOCATION The girls’ school might look familiar to Doctor Who fans: it’s actually Margam Country Park , which was used as The Rattigan Academy in “The Sontaran Stratagem”. The pub where Adam watches Yvonne on the news is the Vulcan Hotel in Cardiff .

REFERENCES Adam references Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” and Madonna’s “Like A Virgin” , compares Tom to newspaper-strip hound Fred Basset and wandering TV pooch The Littlest Hobo , and likens Hal to animated anatidae Count Duckula . Yvonne gets in on the act too, comparing Tom to feral child Mowgli from The Jungle Book . And Cutler namechecks ’60s kids’ show Trumpton , of course. On a more high-falutin’ level, Yvonne quotes German medieval monk Thomas à Kempis, while Hal quotes John Keats (that passage comes from a letter to his fiancée, incidentally, not one of his poems). Oh, and Hal’s dream about Yvonne where she's rocking a diaphanous white dress is very Hammer horror.

SPECULATION Annie’s confession that since killing Kirby she’s wanted to kill again is an ominous moment – the thought that our lovely, kind ghost has a bloodlust is pretty chilling. Surely the ongoing storyline will eventually require her to do just that? Also: while this episode introduces a fifth type of supernatural creature, it also confirms the existence of a Type Six: Yvonne's father was a demon! Do you think we'll ever get to see one of those?

BEST LINE Tempting as it is to go with “Piss sticks!”, it has to be something from Adam: “Your face is a poem, your voice is wine and your eyes are a symphony... and you have spectacular jubblies.”

Ian Berriman

Read our interview with Toby Whithouse about “Hold The Front Page” .

Read our interview with Craig Roberts .

Read more of our Being Human series four reviews .

Read our web-exclusive interviews with Damien Molony (Hal), showrunner Toby Whithouse and Michael Socha (Tom).

Watch a cut scene from "Hold The Front Page" on the BBC Being Human website.

More info

Available platformsTV
Deputy Editor, SFX

Ian Berriman has been working for SFX – the world's leading sci-fi, fantasy and horror magazine – since March 2002. He also writes for Total Film, Electronic Sound and Retro Pop; other publications he's contributed to include Horrorville, When Saturday Comes and What DVD. A life-long Doctor Who fan, he's also a supporter of Hull City, and live-tweets along to BBC Four's Top Of The Pops repeats from his @TOTPFacts account.