Being Human returns to BBC three this weekend and despite not having a single cast member the same since the show’s launch in 2008, the show is somehow still in one piece. But how did they do it, and is it something that more shows should do?
The series really should have collapsed in on itself over the course of series four. The show was always much more about its characters than its plots. Why wouldn’t it be with such a strong central axis as Annie, George and Mitchell? This trio of characters was one of the best on TV, a great balance of the comedic and dramatic with a brilliant chemistry between the three of them.
This isn’t a trick that been done solely by Being Human, as this was in actual fact done first by teenage drama Skins, that has actually completely refreshed it’s cast twice over its life span. Skins also refreshed its writing staff with each generation, making it so that only the basic structure of the show and the name stayed the same.
British spy drama Spooks also changed its cast throughout it’s time on air, going through a massive amount of actors in its time on air. For a genre that wants to make you believe that no one is safe, this was a perfect move, as you never knew when one of the cast was going to snuff it. It lead to far more tension than shows like 24, where you always know that somehow Jack Bauer’s going to pull through.
While many shows are afraid to do this, it really should be something far commonly done when it comes to drama. Not only does this keep a show fresh, it also releases actors now wanting to explore different paths from their grasp, making sure that they’re never going to have performers simply phoning in their lines.
It also lets the writers have a crack at a whole new set of characters, letting them explore areas they might have wanted to before, but simply weren’t able to with the flock they’d given themselves initially. That’s definitely the case with Being Human, as the new group of characters might fill the same slots in the jigsaw, but are completely different personalities to their predecessors.
The tone of the show has actually also reset, with this first episode feeling much more like the lighter first couple of series than the much darker third and fourth series if the show, something that just adds to the refreshing nature of the change.
While some, including this writer, may have wanted Being Human to mix up the script even more, that the show has been able to make the transition so smoothly and without breaking the show is a massive credit to the show’s creative staff and shows that the format alone is easily able to cope with the changes.
Being Human returns to BBC Three this Sunday at 10pm.