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CCI: Being Human Panel

by  in TV News Comment
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The panel Friday night at Comic-Con International for BBC America’s “Being Human” began as all good panels should, with the wave.

“Do the wave!” actor Russell Tovey yelled to the audience, sending arms undulating across the packed ballroom.

Tovey, who plays the werewolf George, was joined by co-stars Aidan Turner (the vampire Mitchell) and Lenora Crichlow (the ghost Annie). Together, they’re roommates who struggle to maintain normal lives, despite their supernatural natures. Also on the panel were co-star Sinead Keenan (Nina), series creator Toby Whithouse, and moderator Mary McNamara, a Los Angeles Times television critic and “Being Human” fan.

“When I got this I thought it was another vampire/werewolf show … but this is the best one!” McNamara said.

The cast was as excited as the fans, and spent their stage time teasing each other. At one point, Turner stole the microphone from Crichlow, who mimed talking until he gave it back. “Don’t electrocute the artist!” she said as all the actors swapped microphones and the crowd laughed.

McNamara asked the actors how they reconcile the supernatural and realistic elements of the show.

“You can’t play the supernatural,” Turner said. “Mitch being an addict is enough to know.”

“The charm of the show is it isn’t a vampire/werewolf show,” McNamara said, “it’s a human show.”

Whithouse agreed, revealing that the series began as a sitcom pilot about three flatmates, each with a neurosis: Mitchell was a recovering sex addict, Annie was agoraphobic and George compartmentalized all of his life. While rewriting, Whithouse introduced the idea that George turns into a werewolf. The show embraced the supernatural bent, though characters remained its focus.

“The bedrock of the show is character,” he said. “We always started from the standpoint of character, and the supernatural problems stem from that.”

The actors agreed, praising the show’s writing. “The scripts do the work for us,” Tovey said.

“You get on set, you learn your lines, you do your thing,” Keenan added. “It’s a joy to do.”

McNamara then played a clip from the season two premiere, which airs at tonight at 10 EST/PST on BBC America. In the video, George gets into a fight with girlfriend Nina (Keenan), unaware that he accidentally scratched her and turned her into a werewolf. The audience loved it, gasping when Nina discovers George has been cheating on her.

“Surely that’s an Emmy,” Tovey said.

When asked why the second season is more grim than the first, the panelists agreed it was a side effect of letting the characters grow up.

“The ambition was always to do as realistic a show as possible,” Whithouse said. “We never set out to tell supernatural stories. We try to tell human stories with a supernatural side.”

“They want a nice, normal, humdrum existence,” Keenan said. “Which is what they don’t get.”

A stampede to the microphone began the question-and answer-session. Fans were curious what the cast thought of the American remake of “Being Human,” now in production.

“Their George should be less attractive than me,” Tovey joked.

“Cuter nurse outfit,” said Keenan, speaking about giving her character a better wardrobe.

Another fan asked Whithouse what Nina’s neurosis was. “Nina’s choice of men is particularly good,” said a sarcastic Whithouse. The audience immediately gasped, with multiple shouts of “Oh, snap!”

Closing the panel was a teaser trailer for the full second season. Vampires, werewolves and ghosts flew across the screen as characters old and new appeared. Despite the fantastic creatures, it was clear the show still centered on the protagonists’ everyday struggles to be accepted.

“We’re all human,” Tovey said.

“Most of us,” Crichlow added.