SyFy’s ‘Being Human’: The Right Way To Remake A British TV Show

Published 3 years ago by , Updated February 10th, 2012 at 8:01 am,

being human josh SyFys Being Human: The Right Way To Remake A British TV Show

How Being Human is going to differentiate itself from the depictions that other films and television series have given vampires, werewolves and ghosts:

SH: I know the vampires on our show are very different than any other vampire you’ve ever seen. I think all the characters are kind of more or less — he’s a vampire, but it’s tweak because I think the theory is they’ve evolved a little bit. They’ve been around for a really long time.

SW: Also, we’re stripping away any kind of glamorous veneer from the vampire thing. It’s very bottom-feeder, uncomfortable, junky stuff… In the case of Aidan, my character, he was a very morally upright person who was corrupted by what he became because of what the Bishop character did to him, turning him into a vampire 200-odd years back, and then lived a life of — sort of in a drug haze, completely becoming kind of, for all intents and purposes, a sociopath and still maintaining a piece of his conscious inside. And then eventually that grew into something that he had to deal with, and then for the past two years, he’s been trying to stay clean, which is very difficult. And the fun about the character, I think, is he’s rediscovering his humanity.

So, you know, he’s 257 years old, so you imagine he’s seen everything, so what would a character like that be? Well, he’d be very internal, and he wouldn’t be very impressed with anything. And he wouldn’t really have — his emotions, they’d be hard to sort of get them bubbling to the surface. But the fun about it is if — if you were in kind of a drug haze for a long formative period of your life and you came out of it, the world would seem like a very, very scary place, and you would have emotional reactions in the most unexpected circumstances. So that’s the fun we have with this character is that while he is this — you know, he’s wizened and he’s seen all this stuff, at the same time, he will sometimes have panic attacks based on what he sees somewhere, or he will freak out about something because his emotions have been suppressed for, like, 200 years, and he hasn’t really been dealing with life in any kind of human way until just recently. So you have this guy who is very, very off balance. And I think in that way, we provide a character that’s kind of accessible, you know.

being human aidan2 SyFys Being Human: The Right Way To Remake A British TV Show

SH: (jokingly) And that was off the cuff. He hasn’t thought about this at all… [in terms of the werewolf], I don’t think you’ve ever seen a werewolf like this before.

MR: Also, like, that’s what makes our show different from all the other genre of vampires/werewolf/ghost shows is because, for ours, our characters aren’t necessarily embracing their supernatural powers. And it’s, like, you can take away that element of the show, and the story will still be as compelling because it’s about these people trying to retain their humanity.

MR: It’s amazing. It’s so good. It’s terrifying.

SH: Yeah, it’s really, really disturbing to watch the transformation. the wolf itself is very different than anything you’ve ever seen. Also, I think as far as what he is what the character is when he’s not a werewolf is something probably you’ve never seen. He’s introverted, and he’s just scared he’s going to do something wrong, hurt someone. And so he’s not the type of guy you could picture being a werewolf.

MR: The ghost, I mean, it’s not like she’s not running around haunting people. It’s more about her dealing with her issues with loneliness and trying to find her place in the world and coming to terms with her death. So it’s more about her journey as opposed to, like, the classic scary ghost, like a 21 poltergeist. She’s also coming to terms with her powers and what she can do and what she’s capable of, which is pretty interesting.

SW: What’s really fun about it is that all three of the characters — the genre stuff grows out of emotional metaphors that have to do with just people.

being human sally SyFys Being Human: The Right Way To Remake A British TV Show

How Being Human uses practical effects and lighting tricks to maintain Sally‘s inability to interact with elements as a ghost:

SW: We’ll be shooting scenes, and we will always be mindful to not — we can’t touch her in any way. So we’ll just be kind of sitting next to each other, and our shoulders will brush. “Cut.” “What? What’s wrong?”

MR: I [also] have these things called “Sally’s hard pillows.” I don’t know if that’s the technical name. So anytime I’m sitting on a couch or lying on a bed, it’s all rigged that it’s literally cement. It’s so hard. And because Sally can’t make a dent in anything because she just floats on top of things, which is so uncomfortable.

SW: Which is great because you always have to recline in a comfortable position.

MR: Yeah, I always have to pretend, like, looking really comfortable. It’s so awkward.

SH: The best is when you don’t realize that something is Sally-ized. So you just go to sit down, and you break your tailbone.

MS: But even just talking about the very hard couch, I think it’s a very good example of — I think there’s nothing worse than watching a show where the ghost is supposed to be ephemeral — I’m, like, a logic freak about this stuff — the ghost is supposed to be ephemeral, and then people’s shadow fall on her or her shadow falls on them. It’s like, “But wait a minute. What? How come she can move that pillow if she’s supposed to be ephemeral?”

SW: You guys are watching shadows too? Wow.

MS: Oh, yes… We really are talking about shadows and — it’s all of it. And it’s stuff that hopefully is relatively invisible. It’s not meant to be belabored when you’re watching the show, but I find those things to be more present or noticeable when they are suddenly there in an unexpected way. So you may not notice — these guys didn’t even notice there are no shadows.

being human sally aidan josh SyFys Being Human: The Right Way To Remake A British TV Show

Being Human Panel (31:22)

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Being Human premieres January, 2011 on SyFy

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  1. I can tell everyone right now, there is simply no way this will surpass the original. No freakin’ way!

  2. I have seen the first two series and I can’t imagine how any American TV show will be able to pack that much plot and dialogue into a 1 hour show. It is that pace and intensity that I feel makes the show. I can’t say I have high hopes for the remake.

    In fact at the end of the first series I remember thinking, “wow this would never make it in the U.S. in this format, it would take 13-14 episodes to get that much story and plot out in what they did in 6.”

    • The first season will be 13 episodes.

  3. My argument here is this; same as The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, there is nothing wrong with the original, so what is the point of wasting the talent, time and money.

    Do American film and tv makers have so little imagination that they have to take the ideas of others? I don’t believe that? Because the talent is there somewhere.

    It’s just creative laziness.

    • Amen brother!

    • It’s like a disease.

  4. Sorry, but a nothing will surpass the original because it was just that, original. SyFy is just further proving they are creatively impotent and have no ideas of their own. Good or not, this show shouldn’t exist. SyFy is continuing their stedfast belief in the 2 “re”s. Rerun and Rehash.

  5. I just read “better than the original” on FB.
    That’s quite a claim, considering it is one of the best shows…sorry, THE best show to come out of BBC 3.
    I’ll give the U.S. version a chance, but frankly, considering the cast, i’m not optimistic.
    The current British cast have proven themselves to be excellent actors all around. Comfortable with drama and comedy…Being Human is in part comedic and light-hearted.
    I really can’t emphasise too much just how great the acting and drama is in the British show.
    Further, there is a certain “heightened reality” with British drama that you rareley see on American screens (“The Wire” excepted). I dunno if it’s the filters they use on the camera, but the softened, coloured tone is immediately evident compared to British T.V. and this has the effect of slightly removing the viewer from the spectacle.
    I’m not against this, as I am a huge fan of American drama, believing it to be the best in the world, and has been for some time (Thanks HBO and Showtime). However, it would dilute the original’s immediacy and realism.
    Finally, the 2nd series dealt with a nasty Christian fundamentalist. Sci -fi (NOT Scyfy-that’s rubbish) is not HBO, so i’m wondering if they will body swerve that storyline as too unsettling for middle-American Conservatives.
    Basically, I see this as a teen-friendly, tame-horror, light-drama in the manner of “Supernatural”. That’s not a bad thing I suppose, as “Supernatural” is pleasantly entertaining…but I don’t watch it.
    However, I’m eagerly awaiting series 3 of “Being Human” and the return of a certain sadistic vampire.
    That should tell you all you need to know about my thoughts on this “Reboot”.
    P.S. The Vampire’s name is Mitchell, MITCHELL goddammit!!!

    • Out of respect, they named the vampire in SyFy’s Being Human after the actor who plays John Mitchell in the BBC version, Aidan Turner.

      • Oh ..well that’s nice! I hope that respect fashions a courteous regard for the original and not a bastardisation.

      • And? Out of respect they should have made the actors watch the original. ;D

  6. SH – It’s, I mean I don’t know what’s going on..but it’s gonna be AWESOME dude.

    SW – Yeah, totally. Like I get this hotbody chick man, which is cool. They don’t got no time on these French shows, so i’m thinkin’..maan, we could just TOTALLY blow those snailmunchers away with this franchise. I’m stoked.

    Meagan – Absolutely, (To SW: “It was a British show…JERK!”), i’m really grateful for the time we had on this beautiful,wondrous show. I think it says a lot about how carefully and delicately the producers have fashioned this amazing re-imagining of such a wizened and intelligent show.

    AO (To Meagan)- Have you seen the original?

    Meagan – erm, no…but I hear it’s pretty rad..like out there y’know!!

  7. I have to admit that reading the words “may surpass the original series in the hearts and minds of fans around the globe” gave me a negative, knee-jerk reaction. I’m American and an ardent fan of the original. The things that I love about the show is the edginess and its ability to be able to balance dark plots with laugh out loud humor. But more than that, it’s the chemistry of the cast, both on and off screen, that makes it special. Is it possible for lightening to strike twice here?

    I’m not totally writing off the American version. As Toby Whithouse said at Comic Con this summer, this version will have no impact whatsoever on the original (he also hinted that he might be getting a piece of the pie). I will still cherish the original and I’m willing to give this new version a try. And SyFy has proved with Battlestar Galactica that they can produce quality television based on other shows.

    However, a few scenes with potential does not “surpassing the original” make. I’m going to need a lot more convincing than that.

  8. Perhaps you should watch the panel.

    As the series creator, Toby Whithouse will most certainly receive compensation, but he’s also working with SyFy on their version along with Executive Producer of the BBC series, Rob Pursey.

    Watching a few clips from Being Human is not what sold me on this series, it was the the cast and they way that they interacted with eachother and the passion they have for this show and getting it right. They’re a very close group that works extremely well together, on and off screen.

    And I don’t want anyone telling me that this is how a cast “acts” when promoting their show. It’s not. I’ve seen my fair share and they don’t “act” as well as you might think – especially if they don’t really like eachother. I won’t say any names, but cough-burn-notice-cough is one.

    • I just finished watching the panel. They seem like lovely people who get along, but I think the astounding chemistry of the original cast is going to be hard to surpass. Maybe it was different actually being in the room, but I’m not really seeing it as much as you are. And even if I did, they could have all the passion in the world and it wouldn’t mean it’s going to be incredible.

      At any rate, my point is that I’m willing to give it a try and maybe it’ll be amazing. But I won’t believe it’s going to surpass the original until I actually see it with my own eyes.

  9. Ok, so they have chemistry together, i’ll buy that.
    It is not a remake, it’s a re-imagining, so clearly they’re sticking with the basic premise of a ghost, vamp and wolf living together and trying to be human. So far so ok.
    My feeling is that Toby had this terrific idea that he’s sold to the BBC and it’s a hit – but he’s constrained by typically low BBC budgets. They probably feel that there is more that can be done with a bigger budget. I also believe that they are ambitious, and I certainly can’t fault them for that, and so to sell the programme to SCi-fi must be a dream come true for Toby and Rob, both in terms of getting their names and work out there and also the financial rewards.
    I also believe that a lot of Brit directors and producers envy their American counterparts ability to make high production value shows with typically beautiful actors, good locations, costumes etc. In my mind theyr’e going “We’ve got a great show, imagine how it would sell to an American audience if we shot it in LA and got Laura Vandervoort and Jared Padalecki on board and got Digital Domain for the effects? Man it’d be a hit..a big, fat titted hit!!”
    It’s Toby’s baby in the end and so I wish him and the show well. I just think the original actors are all beautiful, the effects are terrific, costumes and locations are fine. Script, plotting and acting are superb, so why not sell series 3 to Sci-fi and keep the original cast…is it because they are British? Do we really need a buff American to play Mitchell/Adrian. What’s wrong with just going with Adrian as Mitchell instead? Are American audiences so vacuous that they can only accept US shows with US accents?
    I feel gutted for the original stars, because I think this will sell well and could go for 5 series at 12 episodes per series or more. That’s a lot of work and a lot of money that they won’t get to see.
    There is no need for a re-imagining other than to sell Coke, Ford, Mastercard, Budweiser, Intel and Apple every 12 minutes, and as much as I like Coke…I don’t need to drink it that much.

  10. Wow u guys are babies……give it a chance before u break it down. You cant hate what you haven’t even seen whether based on past experiences or not. You act as if american fictional television cant be as well made…..ever hear of Buffy,Angel,Firefly,Supernatural,Fringe,Xfiles,etc…..dont assume cause its a remake it can”t be good granted that is usually the case, but just let your guard down and you may be surprised. And if i am wrong its fine you will have your bbc version and you can sleep well knowing your correct about big bad and evil american remakes sucking.

    • Well friend, that’s a real manly cussin’…ah’m hurtin’ reeeal bad.
      Ah figure ah oughtta pa-de-dew wid yew on few things ah done noticed, namely:-
      Buffy – it’s ‘riginal
      Angel – it’s a spinoff but kinda ‘riginal
      Supernatural – it’s ‘riginal
      Fringe – it’s ‘riginal
      X Files – yup, yew guessed it, it’s ‘riginal too.
      Matter’fact ain’t nobody be doggin’ ‘Mer’can shows at all, ‘n that ‘cludes yours truly.
      Now, I ain’t the shiniest quarter in th’cup, but even I knows thit… if ya git a nice steak at home..an’ it’s the best steak ever made..but then ya decide ta thinkin’ ” mebe i’s try that new fancy restaurant round the corner an’ try me some o’ thir steak”. An’ ya do an’ ya don’t like it…see ya go back on home fer that good steak. Then mebe’s ya git ta thinkin’, “I’s gonna try n’other eat out”, an’ ya do an’ it ain’t no better’n t’last time. So ya do this runaround a few more times an then it finally dawns on yew that mebe ya better just stick wid yer own home cookin’. Sure, ya might find a real nice eat out once ‘n a while’s, but mama knows best!
      Yer Mama must cook a mean steak seein’ as how yew admit that t’steak yew normally git outside ain’t fit fer t’pigs.
      N’bye the bye..ah already done known ’bout those “Evil” ‘Mer’can remakes.. an’ I’s sleepin’ sounder’n a baby suckin’ on a whiskey tit.
      Y’awl take care now y’hear. Now g’awn son.

      • What about All in the Family, The Office, Queer as Folk, Sanford and Son and Three’s Company? All extremely well made (and extremely popular/successful) fictional series that were remakes of British shows.

        Don’t forget that one of the people that helped make Supernatural so “original” and wrote many of the series great episodes (not to mention being a story editor on the show) is the writing and executive producing SyFy’s Being Human.

        • I’ll take your “Sanford”, “Office”, “Family” and “Queer” and raise you “Life is wild” (Cancelled),”Teachers” (Cancelled),”Spaced” (1 pilot),”Red Dwarf” (Unaired pilots),”Men behaving badly” (Cancelled),”The IT Crowd” (Cancelled Pilot),”Coupling” (Cancelled),”Blackpool” (Cancelled).
          Why do you have the word original in quotes?
          I said earlier that the show would have some affinity to “Supernatural”, so i’m not surprised about the writing influence.
          I’ve already stated that i’ll give this show a look, but at the end of the day remakes/reboots/re-imaginings are not about honouring the original’s vision or piously invoking to bring some groundbreaking social commentary to a wider American audience. It’s about hopefully creating a well made and acted show, getting a hit and watching the advertising dollars roll in.
          That’s why I like HBO. Always ready to gamble on entirely original programming. They’ve got more nuts than a Snickers factory.

          • HBO hasn’t been making money in quite a long time.

            • They’re still on air though.

  11. I’m kind of excited for this series. It is one thing to re-imagine a concept with 20 years between shows (“Battlestar: Galactica”) and another to re-imagine a show still on the air.

    I’m American and I don’t have a problem watching original UK series. The only problem is they’re never on a channel I don’t have to pay extra for (like BBC America).

    I appreciate SyFy taking the risk of back-lash with this series. After so many wrongs turning British shows in American knock-offs, they have to know how to do it right by now.

    • Nice blog Jessie…easy on the spoilers tho’…I started to read your review of “The Social Network”, but had to stop as I haven’t seen it yet.
      Yeah, “Dragon Tatoo” is marvellous.

      • @ Highlander: I read your comment then went back to read that review. You’re right! I didn’t realize that when I was typing it up. I was just so pumped about the movie! I’m going to go add a disclaimer now…

        • Love the Dr.Who pic b.t.w ;-)

  12. Props to you for putting this out there. I was kinda hoping someone would be brave enough to say what I was thinking. This looks quite well thought out and each of the participants has me going onto a little miniature squeefest here.

    I really won’t go on about the fact that yes, there can be some good remakes. I think Battlestar Galactica- by this same network is all you need to hear.

    I’d really like to conclude with- as a HUGE fan of Bbc’s Being Human, I am a little disappointed at how much this show is getting attacked. You can like both, they’re not mutually exclusive.
    Circle of television people!

    • Nobody is attacking the show per se, as nobody has seen it yet to give it an appraisal.
      What I, and others are decrying is the need for it.
      Actually, in the main they ARE mutually exclusive. Same creator, same, characters, same set-up.

      • …in essence which is the true “Being Human”?

        That comment by Sam H – “circle of television”, I thought that was crass. Also the way both he and Sam W disparaged potentially disgruntled fans of the original…that wasn’t classy at all.

  13. I do not know. I never heard of the show. However if it comes on the same week as The Other Side, I might take a look at it. I however for now have stopped watching SyFy.

  14. Sam Witwer being involved will make me try it out. He’s an actor just waiting for a break out role. I can’t imagine he will disappoint.

  15. I will give it a try, it looks good. Scifi has proven they can make good telivision with BSG that produced a prequel- Caprica.

    Although since Toby will be involved and a good set of writers. It can survive hopefully. But I will have to see it to pass a good judgment.

    Wait a second, guys, didn’t Aidan Turner said something that this show is in the same universe as the British one?

    Or will the vamp and wolf have a different look?

  16. Well, think about it this way, three talented actors plus many others have jobs now. I love the original but I’m glad one of my favorite actors, Sam Huntington, is going to be in the reimagaining.

  17. no offense to the actors cause i am sure they are doing their best.. but this just looks horrid. The original is brilliant.. why fix something when its not broken.

    i can’t see this show lasting very long

  18. i like the show… its very interesting, but sometimes it could use some more tense moments… but its mostly good…

  19. No I do not like Being Human. And if SyFy can order new episodes of Battlestar Galactica, they can do the same for SGA. This is why I have quit watching SyFy except for reruns of SGA and when A Good Day For It and The Other Side come on SyFy this year I will watch.

  20. your ao called right waty to remake is british tv show is a whole load of bull. the actors seem to be trying too had to be the ‘annie, mitchel and george’ characters from the uk version. especially the ghost character could think of anything else to put her in.

  21. This kind of movie is so refreshing not at all like all other vampire,werewolf, Goast horrers. The storyline is really interesting. Three beings trying to control who they are as best as they can. Aiden, Josh, and Sally suport trust in, and help each other along their jurney. Josh and his girlfriend conect romantically. Josh finally gives in to
    animallistic heat and has sex with his girlfriend she gets pregnant, she walks into the basement where Josh stays during his time of the full moon, he pushes her out of the door scratching her arm, she watches him through a small window of the door and sees him change into the wolf, she has compassion for Josh, she loses there baby on the basement floor. Josh does not realize he scrached her. Now she will also become a wolf. And the story goes on. I am looking forward to the new season.

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