Being Human returns to BBC Three for a fifth series on Sunday 3 February at 10pm, series stars Michael Socha, Damien Molony and Kate Bracken discuss what’s in store for their supernatural trio and viewers…
Series Four ended with characteristic drama. Where does Series Five begin?
Tom is still at Honolulu Heights with Alex, and Hal is still strapped to the chair he was in at the end of last series. With Hal still restrained because of his bloodlust, things are definitely not easy for the guys.
Tom and Alex don’t want Hal to go back to his old vampire lifestyle, so we’re hoping that forcing him to go cold-turkey will help, but Hal’s still messed up from it all. When you see him, he’s sweaty and being spoon-fed mashed banana – it’s not pretty.
Eventually, Tom has to decide if he can trust Hal enough to let him go which is really hard for him because he doesn’t want to think badly of his best mate. Plus, Tom is trying to help Alex who is having a hard time coming to terms with being a ghost, like the fact that no one can see her and her family don’t really know what happened to her. It’s not easy for Alex because it’s all still new and she still partly blames Hal for her death.
Has Tom had to change much?
I think a lot of things have changed for Tom. He has grown up a bit and he has had to mature, but his main issue is understanding normality. In Series Three, ‘normal’ was being in the woods with his dad and killing vampires; he understood that. But then he started needing different things and wanted to meet people, maybe meet a girl and he wanted a friend other than just his dad. Then in Series Four, he does make friends and ends up having a best friend in Hal. Plus he gets to live in a proper home and gradually things change for Tom… he becomes part of ‘society’.
It must have been quite a jump going from vampire killer to café worker?
Ha, yeah it was, although now, he’s unemployed and no longer working at the café because he was too busy looking after Hal. So he’s living… actually he’s ‘slobbing’ right at the beginning of series five, he’s taking advantage of the sofa and the television! But not for long because, Tom and Hal end up getting new jobs a local hotel and that’s when all the ‘fun’ starts.
What kind of fun?
When Tom and Hal get new jobs at a local hotel, it’s a totally new experience for him: he has to dress up and look after people, plus he has to look like he knows what he’s doing! For Hal this all comes easily, because he’s used that kind of etiquette and the ‘gentleman’s’ way of life and this sparks a small rivalry between the two guys. But there’s a spanner in the works, because the new bad guy, Captain Hatch, is introduced into their place of employment and he likes to cause trouble, especially between Hal and Tom. You could say he gets a real kick out of it.
Will you be fighting any more Old Ones?
No, we’ve defeated the Old Ones, so there’s an element of ease at the beginning of the new series.
Tom is very chivalrous, kind and calm but then he is also this powerful supernatural monster. What’s it like having that split personality in your character?
It’s great and not something I had ever done before. I get to play this innocent, green werewolf! It’s a bit mad really but I really enjoy it.
How is Tom adjusting to all the changes?
Tom’s definitely better adjusted to being ‘human’, especially since he has experienced life a bit more. But he’s still confused about a lot of things; things we probably take for granted. He’s still learning and gets confused about aspects of life because Tom has lived in quite a black and white world, but now he understands that there are depths to people and there isn’t just love and anger, there are loads of aspects to the world he isn’t sure of. It’s hard for Tom but he’s grown up an awful lot.
What’s it like playing a supernatural character?
You feel that your character is special. It’s not your normal nine-to-five. You’re not someone who goes home and lives a normal life. As Tom, I’ve got to deal with this massive curse, but what’s great is that there are other characters who are in the same boat as you! As the series goes, this has always been the case in Being Human, all of these new supernatural beings end up finding us. At one point in Series Five, Tom ends up looking after one of the new characters. For the first time, he becomes important to someone else outside of the trio, because he is the one in charge and giving the orders. It was great!
What are the fans like?
I find the fans really interesting and nice, and I’ll go over and say hello. I can’t believe that they’ve come so far to support the show. They’re just lovely people. When I used to live in Cardiff, I used to stop and have a chat. It’s great to have that feedback from them because the fact they care enough to tell me is amazing.
What’s happening at the beginning of the new series?
At the beginning of Series Five, Hal is pretty much where we left him. He’s tied to a chair, off the blood, but the only real difference is he’s been here for a while, so he’s got a beard, he’s sweaty and craving blood. The house is a complete mess.
Alex is tearing things open looking for taste, looking for smells… any kind of sensation really that she now can’t have because she’s a ghost. Tom is just getting all kinds of takeaways and destroying the house in front of Hal’s eyes. So Hal is desperate to get out and clean it up, to bring some order and control to the house but the horrible thing is he doesn’t trust himself because he might go back on the blood.
What’s going between Hal and Alex?
Hal and Alex met in such intimate circumstances. They fancied each other, and ended up on a date, but when Alex was murdered, it was her blood he drank and caused him to fall off the wagon. Since she returned as a ghost and is living at Honolulu Heights, Hal sees Alex every day of every week and he’s reminded of his monstrous side and his evil capabilities. She represents everything Hal is running away from but on the flip side, there is still a connection between them, but I think Hal finds it easier to push her away – it makes it easier for him to cope with the guilt of what he’s done to her.
There is a real sense of your characters being quite alone despite being surrounded by other supernaturals. How do you think that impacts on Hal?
The beauty of Being Human is really the story of three best mates living together but they’re three normal people who have been afflicted with a curse: there’s the vampire who is addicted to blood and killing people; the ghost who can make no relationships with anyone in the outside world and the werewolf whose curse turns him into a monster and he’s completely incapable of controlling it.
We’re living together and helping each other with our individual problems, but all we want is to blend into society and belong to this human world that is growing up around us. And, every single relationship that each of our characters seems to develop in the outside world usually ends up in someone being killed, or someone getting their heart broken. So it’s a really difficult life for these three young people to have and I think that’s really why the show works so well. No one’s life is perfect and no one is the perfect human being and these three best mates are trying to belong to a world that doesn’t necessarily want them
What are you up against now that the Old Ones are gone?
What was great with Series Four was the impending doom of the Old Ones and constantly waiting for the inevitable to happen? With Series Five, it’s a lot more subtle, which is really exciting, because the three of us have this amazing relationship in the house and trying to get along, trying to be human and do our day-to-day jobs at the hotel. But we don’t realise that this person called Captain Hatch, who’s played by Phil Davis, is slowly but surely and deviously taking over the world under our very noses. We really only begin it figure it out much later, but by then it’s almost too late.
What was it like working with Phil Davis?
Filming scenes with Phil Davis was great. Sometimes, you wouldn’t even know he was in the scene because there were no lines on the call sheet, but then there he was in his little wheelchair, looking disgusting and it just says, ‘Captain Hatch arches an eyebrow’ and it’s really terrifying! It makes it all the more exciting because it’s Phil, but also because he plays Hatch to perfection.
What makes Being Human so watchable even after five series?
You can have all the special effects in the world, you can have the greatest sets and locations and exotic places to film in, but at the heart of Being Human is three extraordinary characters. Maybe what makes Being Human appealing to so many people is the genuine escapism of watching a vampire, a werewolf and ghost living together on Barry Island. It’s bizarre, but at the same time, these are, hopefully, real people with real problems.
So yes, Hal is a vampire, but he’s addicted to something and it’s an addiction that causes a lot of pain in other people as well as himself. They are supernatural characters, but at the heart of them are real people struggling with really, everyday human problems and the show has a way of relating to the people who watch, because it deals with problems through the escapism but it’s still relevant to them.
Where do we start in Series Five?
So with Series Five, we start with where left off… so Hal is strapped to a chair and he has been there for weeks, but Tom and Alex are deciding whether it’s time to let him out or not.
But they don’t know if they can trust him yet. In terms of where Alex is now… she has obviously had a bit of time to come to terms with what’s happened.
She got killed in the last series, but she didn’t really get time to think about it all so she ended up just going with the flow, but now time has passed and it’s all sinking in.
What will the fans see in Alex?
From episode one you see a vulnerability to Alex, and you see it finally hitting home that she isn’t going to be able to do all the things she used to. At one point, it really hits her that she’s actually dead! So she hasn’t fully adjusted, and we see her trying coming to terms with her death. But Alex is also someone who won’t dwell on things too much. She will pick herself up and dust herself off. It’s about how she changes from being vulnerable to thinking ‘how can I make this situation better? How can I contribute?’ Alex can always see the good in people, even when they can’t.
What obstacles does Alex have to face a newly made ghost?
Mainly her own grief and leaving behind her own life. Alex was always close to her little brothers, but now she’s dead, she has completely lost her family. So she has to create a new family with Tom and Hal and that means she’s always there for the boys. In fact, Alex is always trying to teach them things, like with Tom, who is very old fashioned in his approach to women, she tries to teach him how to be a bit ‘cooler’ around girls. With Hal she is trying to help him through his bloodlust.
How are things between Alex and Hal this series?
Their relationship was never easy and it doesn’t get any simpler. They originally met because there was an attraction there and that initial feeling hasn’t really gone away so it’s a bit of a roller-coaster. They have their good days and their bad days but at the end of it all, they are there for each other. But things do get incredibly complicated, especially when Hal starts to descend into a downward spiral. Alex tries to see past it but it gets to a point where it’s too difficult for her and she just can’t deal with it anymore.
Who are you up against in series five?
His name is Captain Hatch, and he’s a much bigger threat this time round… the Old Ones are old news! I know it might seem impossible, but there’s a bigger ‘baddie’ to deal with and so much more is at stake this time round. The way Hatch threatens people… the way he controls people… it’s just brilliantly horrific! And now, it doesn’t just involve our small part of Wales, it has gone global. And all three of the guys know that if they don’t stop him, then they really will be in trouble!
What is like playing that dual role of a horror-comedy?
Being Human is great because it does have that balance of comedy, drama and horror. It’s brilliant because it is such a ‘muscle stretch’ in acting terms. You know, one day you might film all funny scenes and then after lunch you’re on to some really deep, dark scenes. Finding the right headspace can be a challenge but it’s a good one and it’s great to be able to flip between the two. When it comes to the horror and gore that’s always a lot of fun to play with! It’s not every day you get to see and have these amazing prosthetics put on you! It’s a great challenge for an actor and it’s an absolute joy to have that contrast.
What about off screen? You guys get on so well, are there any particular moments that stand out?
There are lots! Everyone’s up for a laugh and we have a huge amount of fun. We are really lucky to have such an incredible crew who are up for having a good time, but there is this one guy in the crew, who was always out to get anyone with a practical joke. He would often sit and hide in various places, like in one of the boy’s trailers and jump out at them! I remember one day hearing an almighty scream and I thought what the hell has happened? He got Damien pretty well. So on the final day of filming, the three of us thought it’s time for payback! We armed ourselves with cans of silly string and hid out in the props department and waited for him…
Did you get him?
Yeah we got him!
What’s your experience of the fans been like?
It’s been amazing! I could not have imagined what it would be like. When I first started, I was told fans would come over and say hi and I remember thinking, ‘but they won’t know who I am!’ From day one the fans have been great. From my first episode in Series Four, they have supported me all the way and I can’t thank them enough because they make the experience so much more enjoyable.