‘Being Human’: Series 3 Episode 1 review

BBC Three’s surprise hit Being Human returns for a third series, kicking off with Mitchell, George and Nina attempting to rescue Annie from Purgatory.

As vampire Mitchell (Aidan Turner) and werewolf couple George (Russell Tovey) and Nina (Sinead Keenan) relocate to Wales in a bid to escape their past in Bristol, their house-hunting is stopped by Annie (Lenora Crichlow) appearing in the TV screen and begging Mitchell to save her from her worst nightmare: being taken to Hell.

Being Human’s success can be put predominantly down to its ability to perfectly mix black humour with dramatic tension, as shown in a scene between Mitchell and George as they attempt to ‘cross over’ to the other side. Deciding that they need to use the spirit of a recently deceased human in order to enter Purgatory, Mitchell and George sit by a dying man’s bedside and wait for his passing. With dialogue that wouldn’t be out of place in an old Morecambe & Wise sketch, Mitchell impatiently attempts to complete a crossword, whilst George recites an old Jewish poem, before getting half way through and realising he doesn’t know the rest of the words. However, as Mitchell prepares to leave, the two share a genuinely poignant moment, taking the audience from amused to emotional in the space of 10 seconds.

Written by creator Toby Whithouse, the episode’s humour is spot-on throughout, managing to toe the fine line between funny and cheesy. Russell Tovey in particular proves to be a natural comic actor, especially in the scene where he is mistakenly arrested for dogging, and stops the show from becoming too intense.

Episode 1 also features an array of guest appearances from well-known TV faces. Proving her acting ability isn’t just limited to the streets of Walford, ex-EastEnder Lacey Turner shines as Lia, Mitchell’s spirit guide in purgatory. The scenes between the two perfectly balance out the more light-hearted scenes back in the ‘land of the living’, with the pair journeying through his past vampiric actions, culminating in a tense showdown at the scene of his last crime. There’s also a fantastically over the top appearance from Paul Kaye as the leader of an underground, supernatural fighting ring.

Although clearly influenced by classic films such as American Werewolf In London, Being Human has put its own spin on the werewolf genre, updating it for a modern audience. The lighting and special effects used during the fight scenes, giving the audience an insight into how painful the process actually is. The transformation from man to werewolf in particular is astonishingly realistic, in an age where we’re almost looking out for dodgy CGI to complain about.

Blurring the lines between comedy, drama and horror, whilst at times managing to be quite moving, Being Human is so much more than just a generic programme about vampires, werewolves and ghosts. Coupled with strong writing and a talented cast, Being Human has grown from its original 2008 pilot into one of the best British dramas in recent years, perfectly exemplified by this solid start to Series 3.

Airs at 9pm on Sunday 23rd January 2011 on BBC Three.

> Order the Series 3 DVD on Amazon.