British Television: Recipe for Success Across Atlantic

SyFy's Being Human: Can it outlast BBC's original?(SOURCE:
SyFy's Being Human: Can it outlast BBC's original?(SOURCE:

The United States of America and the United Kingdom have held different cultures since the day America became it’s own people. We interpret situations differently, we see relations differently, and we perceive humor differently, but as a human race, we, like every other nation in the world, have much in common. Which is why, when I heard American film director Toby Withouse was planning to recreate Being Human, a UK BBC television series, I saw the perfect opportunity to witness what makes these two countries separate, and what makes them similar.

BBC (or the British Broadcasting Corporation) is a station made entirely of British television that is broadcast internationally from it’s own studios, and has been since at least 1936. It broadcasts in several countries, including Canada, Australia, America – and is one of the largest television production companies in the world, producing most of it’s programs by means of BBC’s own private funding. Some shows it has held are: The Doctor series, BBC News, 60 Seconds, Sport Today, among many others, as there are several versions of the BBC channel.

Being Human, as labeled on SyFy (it’s new host channel), may be original, but BBC was the program it first aired on, with an entirely different cast, crew, director, producers, and audience. In the BBC version, Aidan Turner plays the vampire named Mitchell. Russell Tovey portrays the cowardly werewolf George, and Lenora Crichlow is Annie, a solemn but comedic ghost who makes thousands of cups of tea a day for a household that doesn’t drink tea. It doesn’t help she can’t drink it herself, but she enjoys cleaning it up as well. The three of them are already familiar with each other in the pilot episode, and the show gradually takes these three protagonists through their lives and how each one of them met to discover who and what they were.

SyFy decided to take a different turn on the BBC original, not just with the characters, but also with the entire filming depiction of the series. More money was put into CGI and modernizing the traditional mythological ideas, style and lighting is completely different, and the script has been completely rewritten to obtain American culture, slang, and ethnicity. The vampire character now portrayed by Sam Witwer holds a more philosophical yet comedic side. Sam Huntington, Being Human’s SyFy werewolf, is hilariously cowardly, and Meagan Rath, our new ghost, is bubbly and bright until you reach the end of the pilot.

The main differences I saw when watching Being Human’s pilots, was that while culture is a main reason as to why these series are so similar, they have their own quirks and character. In BBC’s version, the show feels dark, mysterious, and dangerous. It makes you fear the characters you learn to love. It feels intellectual, rag-tag in Bristol; realistic in a poetic fashion. Withouse’s version on SyFy feels comedic, each character full of charisma in one form or the other to hide the fear they hold in themselves, and the fear you only taste in the pilot. Action and conflict drive episode one, and everything screams regular fashioned American entertainment.

Being Human’s new audiences in America have absolutely loved the new look, mostly because they don’t know it’s new. But die-hard BBC fans of the series have found the remix a great past time as well, and vowed to watch both. Whether you loved the BBC show or the SyFy version, each one is a story of it’s own, and they both deserve a sit-down.