Tuesday, March 5, 2013

In The Flesh - taking a look at the new drama from BBC Three

Article author: Alwyn Ash

The living dead get a new outing, though this time they must be rehabilitated...

We are so used to tales of the dead coming back to life, eating brains or flesh (or Twinkies), depending on their diet. Thanks to George A Romero, Hammer Horror, Dan O'Bannon, Charlie Brooker and many other writers and producers of this genre, the story of the zombie has always been one of Human survival. However, writer Dominic Mitchell has taken the usual elements and turned them upside down, asking just what would happen if, following a zombie apocalypse, the undead were reintegrated back into society.

Known as The Rising, thousands of dead people are re-animated. Initially these walkers are dangerous, though after months of re-habilitation and medication are returned home where they attempt to live a normal life. The drama focuses on eighteen-year-old Kieren Walker (played by Luke Newberry), a rehabilitated zombie who faces hostility from the Human Volunteer Force, a group of vigilantes who are apposed to this program of reintegration - after all, weren't these zombies once savage killers? Told over three sixty-minute episodes, it is an interesting concept that all zombies are sufferers of PDS (Partially Deceased Syndrome). Add to the mix flashbacks of their past life as killers and you have an emotional drama unfolding...

With the popularity of AMC's The Walking Dead, it was inevitable that a British network would choose to take on its very own tale. "Acceptance and tolerance" is the initial theme here, alongside readjustment, guilt (crimes committed during an untreated state of being) and segregation.

Horror fans will not be disappointed with this drama which, though approaching the genre from a different angle, still contains enough blood and gore to satisfy. That said, there is heart in this story, as creator Mitchell explains, "It’s about redemption, forgiveness and battling against prejudices, and that prejudices can cause chaos if there is no forgiveness - that causes chaos to you and the community.

"When I first came up with the idea, I was always ‘what would really happen in a zombie apocalypse?’ Not the movie version, but the real version. And in the real version, in my head, the scientists would always be trying to find a cure, or find some way to manage the undead. I want it to be for a really wide audience and to talk about real issues, real family issues, real domestic issues, and we play with the zombie methodology. We do have a few scenes of real great zombie genre stuff, but then you have a scene where it’s really domestic and they’re sitting around the table just trying to be a family again, and that’s what I really wanted it to do. So, your Grandma can watch it, hopefully, and really enjoy it, and it can speak to her as well as speak to the teenage zombie horror fan."

Though it is sad to see the end of such shows as Merlin (starring Colin Morgan in the lead role), there is plenty of room for new original British drama such as The Paradise, Ripper Street, Atlantis, and Call The Midwife, alongside regular programs like Doctor Who.

It is always a breath of fresh air to see new writers, too, being given an opportunity to showcase their talent - Dominic Mitchell had joined a BBC Writersroom scheme to receive training and script development, from which came In The Flesh.

Facing stigma in the real world is one of the greatest battles that a single person can face, whether it be racism or mental illness, and focusing on this area within the community is cleverly conceived. Speaking of her own part as young Amy Dyer, actress Emily Bevan says, "It's such a beautiful script, I think Dominic is so clever and as soon as I read it I had a very strong sense of her and her character, and I think I connected with it in a way because she's quite loveable because she's quite lonely, she doesn't have anyone in the world. She’s living all alone in this community, where zombies are really hated, and killed if they're found out. So, if she can't make friends with people, she's living in a very isolated way..."

The first episode will broadcast on Sunday 17th March 2013, BBC Three.