One of the joys of Being Human is the way characters who, in more trendily-minded shows, would be marginalised as outsiders or freaks are celebrated for their inner coolness, while those who would normally belong to the cool camp are exposed as having the same neuroses and anxieties as the rest of us. It is not just the case that the geeks inherit the earth. Equally blessed are the fashionable; for they are shown mercy.
And if all that sounds a bit like we’ve swallowed a Bible – well, consider us coloured by the apocalyptic story arc that’s kicking off round about now. That, and newcomer Alex‘s verdict on Hal: ‘You’re religious – hence your weird blend of happiness and sexual repression.’
Firmly in the geek camp this episode is Blue Peter-badge winner, Allison – that’s Allison with two ‘l’s. She’s the sort of girl who’d be perfect for Dictionary Corner in Countdown, which makes her more than alright by us. A daughter of the YouTube age, she lives by the First Rule of Chess Club, can rustle up a mean Tracy Island, and is a dab hand with a rhetorical question.
Whether or not people like Allison actually exist outside of the wish-fulfilment fantasies of cult fiction writers is a moot point. But as played by Ellie Kendrick, she’s utterly endearing nonetheless.
In another actress’s hands, Allison’s tendency to adopt the patter of the Sixth Form debater would be excruciating, so mercilessly is it observed, but when Kendrick does it, it’s not just Tom who finds her captivating.
Were this Series 3, when Tom’s think-first-act-later masculinity made him seem more brute than cute, Allison’s relationship with Tom would be implausible. But the production team are wise to Michael Socha’s puppy dog charms, and have spent a whole series regressing him to the point of diffident adolescence. When Tom ventures into the National Museum of Cardiff and stares into the face of primeval man, he finds a natural soulmate: someone who is as uncomprehending of modern life as he is.
What Tom has over Hal is the innocence of one whose instincts are still in the process of being understood. When Hal almost succumbs to vampiric temptation with sexy new-kid-on-the-block, Alex, both Alex and Hal are exploiting the other in different ways: her for a holiday shag and him for the satisfaction of his bloodlust. Both are in too deep, but only one of them knows it.
Compare this to when Tom and Allison play-act sexual desire in the bedroom, and the contrast is clear.
Seeing Tom playfully wear a couple of HB pencils as fangs sums up his relationship with Allison in miniature. With her, he has come to believe that the pen is mightier than the stake, and that he is potentially, possibly capable of moments of cerebral, as well as animal, prowess.
Unlike Eighties vampire, Golda, who has been around the block so many times, she has become a Filofax-compendium of clichés, Tom and Allison stand for something better; something more innocent.
But adolescence, whatever age it is encountered, is a confusing time. When Allison parrots the language of sexual confidence (‘No glove, no love’), the words sound foreign, whereas Tom’s simple insistence that ‘You’re a flower and I’m a bee’ articulates his simple gallantry, as well as outing him, for the second time this series, as a bee lover.
It’s all very charming to watch, and, for those of us who are already converts to the gospel of geekdom, makes for one of the most funny-true episodes this series.
In this, it may be preaching to the converted. Like, we suspect, Allison, we even know a word for ‘cultivator of bees’. It’s apiculturist.
But then, like Hal, we’ve always been more Ceefax people. And proudly so.
Aired at 9pm on Sunday 11th March 2012 on BBC Three.
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