First I have to say horrors are not my cup of tea. I get bored in particular of movies with evil creatures who never die at the end and of zombies stories, they are all similar to me.
But, after having read some mentions on Twitter, I finally had a look to the storyline of In The Flesh. It took my attention during the competition between TV series promoted by Radio Times 2014 TV Show Champion, where In The Flesh was running against Sherlock! I like both the series, but for the record In The Flesh won at the end.
A story of a gay teenager returned from the death as a… zombie? A bell rang!
This image above, from a scene, made me even more intrigued. I was taken and I had to find a way to watch it.
I found the first three episodes on YouTube, thanks to the suggestion of a fan who sent me the links!
Then, I bought the DVD box with the two seasons together in a shop of London and once at home I watched the full series again and then again. Both the seasons are great, but I have a preference for the first one. It could be a miniseries itself and there’s the third episode which is perfection.
It was good to watch ITF knowing so little about the plot: in some way I avoided spoilers on Twitter (but I found a very interesting fan clip of gay kisses on YT including some from the series), so I enjoyed it better.
IMDb labels it as Drama and Horror, but it goes further. In The Flesh is so romantic and poetic! A different way of telling stories of zombies! After a terrible war, a team of doctors found a cure to return them to normal and now fairness says that zombies have to be called ‘undead people’ and be part of society again. So how will their families and neighbours cope with the new situation? How will the protagonist come back home, after having committed suicide? It’s a very interesting point of view.
Oh my god, all that grief! There’s an old joke which says ‘I had some much fun crying!’
And yet there’s a lot of irony, too, some brilliant cheeky lines, especially from Amy. Only the British can joke like that on serious issues!
ITF is a well-crafted series. Refreshig the old idea of zombies, using just some locations, with no need of complicated scenaries or expensive sci-fi scenes, and with the help of an amazing make up and costumes, look what a team can do!!!
Despite is about a situation that couldn’t never be real, the story is made like it’s actually happening. The idea of a medication which can cure the “rabids”, as some call the undeads, flyers on how to put up make up and how to deal with the PDS sufferers, the support of nurses to their families – there’s even a commune where Amy and Simon met, that looks like a commune of the early ’70s – the HVF (Human Volunteer Force) a group created to protect the people of Roarton during the First Rising – a party, Victus, that has great resemblance with a current real British party. All of them are realistic details.
ITF is also deeply religious in its own way and talks much about the loneliness of the people.
Last but not least, the characters are all well written and the cast so nice! I suspect that the surnames were chosen to underline their nature or in homage to some icons.
For once my favorite ones are not the villains, but the lovely main characters Kieren Walker and Amy Dyer, because they are the black sheeps of the story, the outsiders nobody like, and the shy K’s sister Jem, played respectively by Luke Newberry, Emily Bevan and Harriet Cains!
He’s always described as ‘gay’ in articles, but Kieren – as the brilliant creator Dominic Mitchell defined him – is actually pansexual, despite he falls in love with Simon. He’s got a sweet nature, but he’s not submissive: he fights for his dignity. He has been an outsider all his ‘first’ life and even in his ‘second’ life people don’t accept him as he is, before they considered him weak and now a dangerous rebel who can’t be tamed. I like this kind of characters the most!
Amy is a lonely wise young woman with a lively nature, who died too young and now, having got another chance, sees life as a big gift and tries to cheer other people up. Her romance with Philip aka Stephen Thompson gives some of the most amusing and poetic moments. I wonder where her beloved grandma she talks about has gone. She must have been considered an unappreciated and old fashioned person in her first life. I’ve always been curious about her peculiar style and, the first time I watched, I thought she died in the previous century. She finds her best friend in Kieren.
Jem is a lovely sister, Kieren loves her deeply, she is the one he thinks about when he’s been asked who he would like to meet first. She had to fight a terrible war from a very young age, but she couldn’t kill her own brother when she recognises him as a zombie (PDS sufferer, sorry) in the supermarket. Of course, she is very upset and angry when Kieren comes back, who wouldn’t be?
While the parents don’t seem to be well connected to their son. They never want to face the truth about his nature and what happened to him, they keep pretending they’re a ‘normal’ family, but perhaps they’re just lost in their grief. They don’t seem to be able to help their children or themselves. Marie Critchley and Steve Cooper were good in the roles.
There are some characters I wouldn’t stand in real life, but the actors who play them are excellent and one feels sorry for them. Like Maxine Martin, Vicar Oddie, Bill Macy, Gary Kendal or the bigot clients of the Legion bar. Wunmi Mosaku, Kenneth Cranham, Steve Evets, Kevin Sutton: I can’t help liking them much. I believe they wouldn’t consider their characters as proper villains, so, only because they are the protagonists counterpart, I use to call them baddies/villans-with-their-reasons.
Then the minor roles that see some moving performances, like Karen Henthorn as Janet Macy, Ricky Tomlinson as Ken Burton, Steve Garti as Duncan Lancaster and Steven Robertson as John Weston. I’d like to mention everyone in the cast.
Not forgetting that there is one of the ‘Lucky13’ from the WWI TV series The Crimson Field: seeing David Walmsley in the cast of ITF was a surprise, he made me cry in the role of K’s best friend, the soldier Rick Macy! He’s also a good stage actor, I saw him at the Almeida in Our Town in October 2014.
But I wonder: were Kieren and Rick in love, or just friends? It was a bromance or something more? Some fans say it was an unrequited love, some other say they were in love but Rick couldn’t face his father and chose to join the Army. Some other prefer to see Kieren in love with Simon. I still don’t know which one I prefer, as Emmett J Scanlan got something as Simon Monroe, too! Anyway, the ‘gay line’ is very important to me.
Roarton, the fictional Lancashire village where the story takes place, seems a character itself. There are some stunning wintry landscapes, while the buildings are claustrophobic. That’s even more true if we talk about Norfolk, a treatment centre where Kieren Walker received treatment. Those white walls and iron gratings are scary.
In The Flesh hasn’t arrived to Italy, yet, I’d love if it would happen, but I can’t think of it with dubbing! The best thing would be if they aired it in original with subtitles, especially Luke Newberry’s gentle voice is not to be missed.
There’s another petition for The BBC to save it: #SaveInTheFlesh. Unbelievable!!! I know the channel got troubles, but they’re axing by far too many series! Let’s hope we can save ITF with the movie, since the third season is not going to happen!
I want to talk in details about this series: characters, episodes, thoughts on it soon…
For now, go to my page on In The Flesh special guest at the Ravenna Nightmare Film Festival 2015
CAST & CREW TWITTER ACCOUNTS
(suggestions are welcome)
Luke Newberry @lukenewberry plays Kieren Walker
Harriet Cains @HarrietCains plays Jem Walker
Kevin Sutton @suttonkev plays Gary Kendal
Wunmi Mosaku @wunmo plays Maxine Martin
Steve Evets @steveevets26 plays Bill Macy
Dominic Mitchell @DomMitchell creator and writer of the series
BBC Three official In The Flesh page bbc.co.uk
In The Flesh page on IMDB.com