Writer Neil Jones (Blue Murder, Waterloo Road) is one of the co-creators of Bedlam, Sky Living’s new paranormal drama, which is currently airing at 10pm on Monday nights.
Starring Will Young, the six-part series is set around Bedlam Heights, a newly converted apartment building on the edge of a British metropolis. The high quality apartments offer stylish 21st century living, but behind the facade lie unimaginable horrors. This former pre-Victorian asylum is haunted by the ghosts of its dark and violent past.
Watch the trailer…
CultBox caught up with Neil to find out more…
Have you been pleased with the reaction to Bedlam so far?
“Really, really overwhelmed by the positive response. Nothing makes me happier than the number of people I’ve heard saying that they can’t sleep on a Monday night anymore. We always thought we had good stories, but something about the characters and situations seems to have struck a real chord with people, which is great.”
When writing Bedlam, which shows were you influenced by?
“I’m a Lost obsessive and it got to the point where the other writers Chris and David were groaning every time I mentioned it. I also ruined my wife’s Valentine’s night last year by arguing about it. So in terms of storytelling and ambition, that was definitely the biggest influence.
“But also Twin Peaks, The Prisoner, Doctor Who, Buffy, with maybe a little hint of Hammer House Of Horror and Tales Of The Unexpected. The other two would probably say something completely different and demonstrate infinitely better taste!”
Did you visit any scary places, watch any horror films or listen to spooky music to get you in the mood for writing the show?
“Morricone soundtracks all the time while writing! In fact the neighbours presumably think I’m on some kind of round the clock psychedelic sex film marathon in here. As for scary places, script editor Richard Fee’s office is a dungeon of terror from which I often feared I would never escape.”
How did you first come up with the idea for Bedlam?
“It came out of seeing all the old buildings being turned into fancy new flats in Liverpool, Leeds and Manchester. We were thinking ‘what if your lovely apartment was built on the site of something terrible?’. It struck us that you can’t cover up and forget the history of these places; it’s all still there just beneath the surface, part of the character of the building. We were developing the series for some years so there was lots that didn’t make it. Jed was originally a girl for a start!”
Did you have Will Young in mind for the role of Ryan when you were writing the character?
“Not at first… In fact I’d initially seen Ryan as overweight and beardy, which obviously Will is not. But when he auditioned for it he was brilliant, more like Ryan than the Ryan in my head, and after that we went back and we did rewrite the character with him in mind. Can’t imagine Ryan as anyone else now.”
Is a second series looking likely and do you have any ideas already for stories that you’d like to tell if the show does return?
“It’s too early to say, but we have fingers and other appendages crossed… We have a plan for Series 2 and beyond – some truly scary ghost stories and deeper, darker secrets about Jed and Bedlam Heights – and actually we’re already writing the first episode. But obviously it all depends how well the first series does.”
Does the first series end on a cliffhanger ending or is everything wrapped up in the finale?
“As the series develops, there is one big mystery in particular that emerges… And yes, you do get an answer, but you have to stick with it right to the very end. It’s satisfying in a way that makes you want to immediately come back for more, I hope…”
You’ve got some great guest stars in the series. If a second series is made, who would be your dream guest stars?
“Dream guest stars: Peter Cushing, Edward Woodward, Ingrid Pitt… Unlikely however! I have occasionally wondered if Zooey Deschanel is busy next year… When I say ‘occasionally’, I mean every ten or eleven seconds obviously.”
Did you feel under any pressure with Bedlam being Sky Living’s first UK drama commission?
“There was definitely a sense of responsibility of not wanting to get it wrong, but not really pressure as the channel was so supportive and totally got the idea from the moment they saw it.”
Were you ever worried about making the show too scary?
“No – Nicola Shindler, the exec producer, was always determined for us to make it more and more scary in fact. Kate’s weird dreams that start in Episode 1 get seriously disturbing and I thought they might not make it but, nope, still there.” *Grins malevolently*
What else have you got coming up?
“I’ve just made a sitcom pilot which Harry Enfield is directing for E4, called Sex And The Chippy. David is writing a legal drama series and Chris is, amongst other things, one of the writers of the completely genius Rastamouse. All a world away from Bedlam, but my first love will always be horror, fantasy and science fiction, and I’ve got a few new projects which will hopefully see me headed back in that area again soon.”