Saturday, August 21, 2010


Tom in Oz: When reading this article dear blog reader if you are an Australian it may irk you to know that the Canadian who wrote this article thinks "Kath & Kim" is a British TV show...we know it's an Aussie fact the 2 girls from "Kath & Kim" have been working with Stephen Fry recently...

Russell Tovey - A British werewolf in America

August 22, 2010

Rob Salem

So a vampire, a werewolf and a ghost move in together . . .

It sounds like the set-up for a really bad joke. Or worse, a derivatively familiar premise for the next big American network Twilight rip-off youth-market drama. Which it in fact, is, but before Being Human was optioned for adaptation as an American series, it was a uniquely compelling, character-driven tragicomedy . . . about a vampire, a werewolf and a ghost.

The supernatural series gets a special showcase this week on Space, running all six of its first-season episodes, starting Monday night at 9 with a doubled-up two and a half hours, and continuing in single-hour instalments through Friday.

It starts over from the pilot again in a weekly slot, Thursdays at 10 p.m., starting Sept. 16, with the second season of six following Oct. 28. A third season is currently in production in Wales.

“It's different, isn't it?” allows Russell Tovey, who portrays the most conflicted of the three monstrous roomies — and the only one with an actual pulse — as the reluctant werewolf, George, in the British original.

“It sounds like a kids' show, which it definitely isn't,” he says, calling in during a lunch break on the Being Human set.

Neither is it merely a monster mash. “It's really more the human side of it,” the actor insists, “rather than concentrating on the supernatural.

“It's almost inconsequential to these people, who are just trying to be human.”

In fact, in its initial stages, the three central characters were mere mortals. “It was just about a flat-share,” Tovey reveals. “George (the werewolf) just had rage issues, and was agoraphobic and painfully shy, and Mitchell (the vampire) was a drug addict and a sex addict.

“But it wasn't working. So they changed them to a werewolf and a vampire, and Annie the ghost . . . but they're still rooted in those metaphors. It works on different levels for different people.”

For the Being Human writers and creators, it was an opportunity to indulge their nerdier inclinations — all but one come fresh off the revitalized Doctor Who franchise, as do episodic actors Tovey and his phantom flatmate, Lenora Crichlow. (Aidan Turner plays Mitchell.)

“It's great to be around those kind of people,” Tovey enthuses, “because they're obsessed with comics and science fiction. They live and breathe it. They know genre back to front . . . they're so involved in creating this world.”

In Being Human's third season, that world has relocated, leaving Bristol for Cardiff, which has become a kind of U.K. Sci-Fi Central, where Human's predecessors, Doctor Who and its spinoff Torchwood, are also largely set and shot.

Or rather, were set and shot. Torchwood has itself relocated, and about to start production on an all-new fourth season across the pond in the States. Doctor Who, after a dismally failed attempt to do the same in 1996, still keeps his TARDIS parked in Wales.

The North American version of Being Human, currently shooting in Montreal, will “super” star Sam Witwer, who played Doomsday on Smallville, as the vampire, with Sam Huntington — Jimmy Olsen in 2006's Superman Returns — taking over for Tovey as resident man-wolf. Local actor Meaghan Rath will play ghost girl Annie. It too will run on Space, which is co-producing.

Historically, this sort of TV transition has been an iffy proposition at best — for every successful American adaptation, from The Office to Queer as Folk and all the way back through All in the Family, there's been a Fawlty Towers, Red Dwarf, Coupling, Kath & Kim, The Prisoner, Life on Mars . . .

It doesn't help in this particular case that the original Being Human is still in production back in Wales and already airing south of the border, where it has become increasingly popular.

At last month's San Diego Comic-Con, the British cast was ecstatically embraced by the science-fiction faithful.

“That's quite something,” marvels Tovey. “To be flown across the world like that and to get that kind of a reception.

“The whole thing was mind-boggling. I can't wait to come back next year and bring along my (5- and 7-year-old) nephews.”

One thing the American fans were quick to pick up on was Tovey's first onscreen werewolf transformation, essentially a shot-for-shot homage to the same sequence from John Landis's 1981 cult classic, An American Werewolf in London.

“The prosthetics can get a bit uncomfortable,” Tovey allows. “But crawling around the floor, stark naked, screaming your lungs out . . . that's a challenge. But also oddly liberating - a real catharsis.”

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