Being Human Q&A

In a parallel universe somewhere there is a show about three twentysomethings - a neat freak, an agorophobic with confidence issues, and a recovering sex addict - living in a flatshare. It's called The Flatshare, a name which definitely does what it says on the tin although isn't going to win any awards for puntastic titling. It's a cross between This Life and Cold Feet. It could be well written, have a great cast perhaps, but it's most definitely not the kind of thing that SFX would ever be writing about.

If you chuck in a vampire, a werewolf and a ghost though, all bets are off. And as the team behind the hotly anticipated Being Human revealed at a screening and Q&A this week, that's exactly what they did.

We've already posted a (spoiler free) review of episode one , as unveiled at the exclusive screening at the BFI on Friday, but the Q&A panel afterwards - with Russell Tovey (George), writer/creator Toby Whithouse, producer Matt Bouch, Julie Gardner (head of drama at BBC Wales) and Rob Pursey (Being Human's exec producer) all answering questions from the crowd - threw up some interesting nuggets of info for fans of the show.

Interestingly the audience response (which a straw poll at the beginning showed was made up for the most part by people who had seen the pilot and signed the petition) seemed largely enthusiastic to the changes of tone and recasting (confirmed by Julie Gardner as being in part because the original Mitchell and Annie were out of option by the time the show was commissioned), which should set the creators' minds at rest following the initial online backlash. There was much laughter and several audible gasps of shock at the gore, so it seems fair to say the dual elements of drama and comedy (let's just not call it dramedy) are still in place.

For Toby Whithouse, the writer behind K9's return to the Whoniverse and No Angels, incorporating the supernatural element into his show was especially pleasing. He told the crowd: "It was a genre that I'd always secretly loved. As a child I was an avid sci-fi and comic fan. In the industry I feel that everything changed with Doctor Who. It garnered a lot of interest in that genre. Before that if you'd gone into a commissioning meeting and pitched a sci-fi show they'd have called security. So it was like 'aha, now is my moment to strike'. Which makes me sound like an evil genius."

Going back to the fully-human alternate universe show, Rob Pursey explained: "Being Human started out life as a non genre-specific show. It was like 'can we do This Life again without embarrassing ourselves?' But it wasn't quite there."

Toby Whithouse chipped in: "We'd got to the point where we had been kicking it about for so long that we thought 'let's have one last meeting and then if nothing comes of it then let's just leave it.' And that's when the idea came. The character of George in the original series was a punctilious neat freak. Mitchell was a recovering sex addict and Annie had self confidence issues. It just clicked. There was never a moment where we thought 'which should be the werewolf, which should be the vampire, which should be the ghost?' It just made sense."

With BBC Wales being so heavily involved in both Doctor Who and Being Human, and with everyone on the panel bar Rob Pursey having worked on both shows in some capacity or other, there was also a bit of discussion about Doctor Who.

Whithouse nailed his colours to the mast as a Who geek, but remained adamant that there is one way Being Human will remain distinct from BBC Wales's slightly more high profile export - for now at least: "I love Doctor Who and Torchwood, I've written for them and I'm a fan. But the one thing I wanted to be key to our show is that - so far - our monsters remain secret. It could be happening. There could be a werewolf, a ghost and a vampire living in a house down your road. There is not an alien invasion every Christmas."

Julie Gardner revealed how she had once been chased through the lingerie department of Selfridges by a Doctor Who fan keen to get his views across.

Meanwhile, Russell Tovey spoke a little more about being caught in the middle of all the hype about who would be the new Doctor - "The response was crazy. At one point there was a Facebook group called 'I'll be furious if David Tennant is replaced by Russell Tovey as Doctor Who' which had a dozen members or so." Pausing for a wry smile he added: "Everyone's leaving now though, cause they're happy."

One question did cause a slight buzz among the assembled fans. When Russell Tovey was asked which of the two shows he preferred working on, before he could give his answer Toby Whithouse said in jokey warning - "We're storylining series two at the moment remember..." It's probably just as well Tovey said he preferred hanging out with werewolves than Time Lords. Suffice to say anyone who got to see the season one preview is already optimistic at the prospect of there being a season two. And after the delay in commissioning the show to start with if there are early indications that season two is a possibility it seems oddly apt.

Being Human starts on BBC Three on Sunday at 9pm.

This article contributed by writer Narin Bahar . For more about Being Human, visit the official BBC blog . There are also video interviews with the Being Human people here .

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