Cast changes are never easy for any show and the Being Human producers found themselves losing three quarters of their original cast within the space of a single episode.
Conventional wisdom dictates that a show which has undergone such a dramatic transformation should be struggling.
Yet, as tonight’s third episode proved, Being Human is as strong as ever.
Part of the success is that the new characters aren’t rehashes of what went before – Tom (Michael Socha) isn’t a re-run of George, Hal (Damien Molony) is different from Mitchell.
By creating two new, rather than substitute, characters the producers avoid comparisons and allow the actors’ work to stand in its own merit.
That may seem obvious, yet TV history is littered with new characters who are pale imitations of those they replaced.
In Star Trek: Deep Space Nine they established that the Dax symbiont had lived in hosts of all ages, genders and ethnicities.
Yet when original actress Terry Farrell left the show, producers cast another young, white pretty girl as the new host of the symbiont.
The character could have been recast in literally any shape or form. In ignoring that advantage, producers ended up with a character who would be compared to what went before.
In BBC One’s My Family, lodger Alfie is so close to Nick, the character he replaced, that the original role may as well have been recast.
The two characters served exactly the same function and displayed the same characteristics.
The chance to introduce a new dynamic was missed, and the new character just endlessly reminded the audience that someone was missing.
Paradoxically, despite being tied to having a vampire, ghost and werewolf, Being Human has succeeded where those shows failed.
The new characters are characters in their own right, they exist independent of those who went before them. Their arrivals have given the show new stories and relationships to explore.
On current performance, and unless the producers know something the rest of us don’t, I expect Being Human to still be going strong years from now.
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