In the Flesh (TV series)
In the Flesh is a BAFTA award-winning BBC Three supernatural drama series starring Luke Newberry. Written and created by Dominic Mitchell, the show began airing on BBC Three on 17 March 2013 with the first series consisting of three one-hour-long episodes. Set after "The Rising", which is the show's take on a zombie apocalypse, the drama focuses throughout on reanimated teenager Kieren Walker and his return to his local community.
|In the Flesh|
|Created by||Dominic Mitchell|
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|No. of series||2|
|No. of episodes||9|
|Executive producer(s)||Hilary Martin|
|Original release||17 March 2013 –|
8 June 2014
An extended second series of the show, consisting of six one-hour-long episodes, began airing in the United Kingdom on BBC Three on 4 May 2014 and in the United States on 10 May 2014 on BBC America.
In January 2015, BBC Three announced that In The Flesh would not be renewed for a third series due to cuts to its budget for its final year as a televised channel.
The show, set in the fictional village of Roarton, Lancashire, though filmed in Marsden, West Yorkshire, depicts life several years after "The Rising". This period, in (fictional) 2010, was a time when thousands of people who had died in 2009 suddenly re-animated as mindless, homicidal, brain-eating zombies. However, by the time of the series, normality has begun to return. A full-fledged zombie apocalypse has long since been staved off by armed resistance from the living, especially from armed local militias who patrolled their communities and actively hunted the re-animated. Meanwhile, a scientific solution for the zombie phenomenon has been found, with the development of a medication to restore consciousness to the undead, allowing them to remember their time alive and to identify as their former selves. The surviving undead, those not killed by the militias, have been rounded up, forcibly medicated, and entered in a government rehabilitation programme in a plan to reintroduce them to society. They are provided with contact lenses and cosmetics, to help them conceal their deceased status, and maintenance injections of medication to keep them from relapsing into a dangerous or "rabid" state. They are officially referred to as sufferers of Partially Deceased Syndrome (PDS), though anti-zombie hardliners prefer the pejorative term "rotters". Many of the risen are haunted by memories of the atrocities they committed while rabid. In the village of Roarton, PDS sufferers face prejudice from the villagers upon their return.
- Luke Newberry as Kieren "Kier" or "Ren" Walker, the protagonist of the series who is one of the many formerly rabid zombies who have been rehabilitated, and has since returned to his parents' home in the village of Roarton. A bout of depression over the loss of his best friend and romantic interest, Rick Macy, caused the 18-year-old Kieren to commit suicide. Upon his return, he is faced with the guilt of his suicide and the murders he committed whilst in his rabid state and those by his sister who now belongs to a militia dedicated to hunting down other PDS sufferers. Kieren tends to stay at home and avoid others to prevent being recognised as a "rotter". Over series two, Kieren gradually grows more confident both in his sexuality and in his status as a PDS sufferer, and starts a romantic relationship with Simon Monroe.
- Emily Bevan as Amy Dyer, a PDS sufferer who died of leukaemia at age 21. She meets and befriends Kieren and tries to convince him that their condition is a blessing. She is unaffected by her actions when she was rabid and believes that most people spend their lives waiting to die. In the second series she gradually becomes living again for reasons yet to be revealed, only to be murdered by Maxine Martin, who received intelligence to suggest Amy was the first individual to come back to life during the Rising ("the First Risen").
- Harriet Cains as Jemima "Jem" Walker, Kieren Walker's sister and a member of the local militia, the Human Volunteer Force (HVF). She has trouble accepting Kieren's return but still seems to care for her brother. She was especially troubled by Kieren's death as they were extremely close.
- Marie Critchley and Steve Cooper as Sue and Steve Walker, parents of Kieren and Jemima Walker.
- Emmett J Scanlan as the charismatic Simon Monroe who has links with the Undead Liberation Army (ULA) as well as being one of the twelve disciples of the mysterious Undead Prophet. Simon is the first undead upon whom the PDS treatment "neurotriptaline" had any effect, and, after his success led to the successful development of the drug, became one of the very first undead persons to be rehabilitated, shortly after the invention of the term "PDS". After being disowned by his father, having killed his own mother in a rabid state, Simon finds a sense of community in the group of radicalised undead who adhere to the teachings of the Undead Prophet, which eventually comes to form the ULA. When he arrives in Roarton in search of the so-called "First Risen", he appears to be in a relationship with Amy, but later it becomes clear he is not interested in Amy and has merely allowed her to assume they are together. Over the course of series two, his attraction to Kieren grows into a strong romantic attachment, enough for him to place Kieren's wellbeing ahead of the wishes of the Undead Prophet, to whom he had long been devoted.
- Stephen Thompson as councillor Philip Wilson who later gets into trouble when he announces his romantic affection for certain PDS sufferers and, as a consequence, greatly diminishes his chances of climbing the political ladder. He later reveals his feelings for Amy Dyer at the village bus stop and they subsequently begin a relationship.
- Wunmi Mosaku as Maxine Martin, the honourable Victus MP for Roarton. Like members of her party, she does not consider PDS sufferers to be real people, and takes great delight in implementing aggressive new government policies which treat PDS sufferers as second class citizens. She also brings back the defunct Human Volunteer Force under a new name, the Roarton Protection Service (RPS), and stirs up once again the anti-PDS hysteria which Roarton had previously been under. Secretly, she has been studying the mythology of the Undead Prophet and has bought into its idea of a Second Rising. Having heard the prophecies of the ULA, she hunts for the First Risen, in the hope to slay him or her and trigger a Second Rising which will restore to life her brother, who died as a young child.
- Kevin Sutton as Gary Kendall, second-in-command and later Commanding Officer of the HVF Roarton village unit following the death of Bill Macy. Later, he heads up the RPS for Maxine Martin, and develops a romantic connection to Jem. After attempting to induce Kieren to an untreated state, in the unsuccessful hope that a rabid Kieren will be executed by Jem, Jem terminates their relationship.
- Gerard Thompson as Dean Halton or "Daz", an active member of the HVF. In addition to his position in the HVF, he later becomes second-in-command and in some ways Co-Captain of the RPS after its establishment.
- Ricky Tomlinson as Ken Burton, a local man who initially appears to dislike those with PDS but this turns out to be only a façade, part of his vain attempt to hide the fact that his wife is a PDS sufferer. His failure to keep this concealed eventually leads to her death at the hands of Bill Macy. At the start of the second series he has moved to the city, only to be killed in a ULA attack on a train.
- Kenneth Cranham as the widowed Vicar Oddie who runs the parish church and known well across the parish itself. He dies in the second episode of series two when he suffers a heart attack.
- Steve Evets as Bill Macy, the head of the HVF. He is Rick's father and husband of Janet. Bill learned of his son's romantic relationship with Kieren and forced him to enlist in the army to separate them. In the greatest sense of irony, Bill was indirectly responsible for both Rick and Kieran's deaths. During the "Pale Wars" he destroyed many "rotters" but when his son returns with PDS he cannot accept it and treats him as if he were still fully alive. Bill is forced to confront his feelings over having sent his son to his death, his son's same-sex romance and his son's return with PDS.
- Karen Henthorn as Janet Macy, Bill's wife and Rick's mother. She is very accepting of Rick's return and tries to convince her husband that Rick really has PDS and that his return albeit far from ideal is a blessing.
- David Walmsley as Rick Macy, Kieren's best friend and romantic interest, a young soldier who was killed by an IED during combat in Afghanistan, and whose reanimated body was recovered by the army relatively recently (wandering in Afghanistan). His return is a surprise both to Kieran, and to his mother and father; his father, an anti-PDS extremist, is particularly unable to cope with his son becoming a PDS sufferer.
- Steve Garti as Duncan Lancaster
- Sandra Huggett as Shirley Wilson
- Eve Gordon as Frankie King
- Jack North as Rob Carnforth
- Charlie Kenyon as Henry Lonsdale
- Paul Warriner as Dr. Tom Russo
- Bryan Parry as Freddie Preston
- Francis Magee as Iain Monroe
- Steven Robertson as John Weston
- Sue Wallace as Maggie Burton
- Linzey Cocker as Haley Preston
- Harry Gawler as Man looking round house.
|#||Title||Directed by||Written by||Original air date||UK viewers|
|1||"Episode 1"||Jonny Campbell||Dominic Mitchell||17 March 2013||668,000|
|Kieren Walker, one of thousands of individuals affected by Partially Deceased Syndrome (PDS), returns home to Roarton. He has been subjected to months of rehabilitation and medication at a special, defended unit, specifically designed to keep the PDS sufferers in. The government has set an agenda of acceptance and tolerance. However, a cauldron of brutal anti-rotter sentiment exists and is gathering support, especially within the church.|
|2||"Episode 2"||Jonny Campbell||Dominic Mitchell||24 March 2013||392,000|
|Kieren feels trapped at home and escapes to his grave, where he is reunited with his old hunting partner Amy Dyer—who persuades him to take a dangerous day trip. He discovers that Rick, his best friend who he had a romantic interest in and thought was killed by an IED in Afghanistan, is back in town, so he flies to him at his militia-based local pub. After an awkward reunion, he finds himself on a hunting mission in the woods, where the night patrol has reported live rabid rotters roaming free. Kieren persuades them to hand the "rotters" in for a reward rather than kill them.|
|3||"Episode 3"||Jonny Campbell||Dominic Mitchell||31 March 2013||525,000|
|Kieren visits the supermarket where he used to hunt, which brings back memories of when Jem spared his life. The siblings then confront their past issues and drop in to see the Lancasters, parents of a girl he killed. Kieren begins to feel better, but must say goodbye to Amy, who is leaving Roarton in search of The Undead Prophet. At the end of the episode, tragedy strikes Kieren after Bill kills Rick, claiming he is not the real Rick, leaving the body leaning against Kieren's garage. Kieren storms in to confront Bill, but ultimately leaves. Bill is then shot by Ken Burton, whose PDS-afflicted wife was murdered by Bill at the end of the first episode.|
|#||Title||Directed by||Written by||Original air date||UK viewers|
|4||"Episode 1"||Jim O'Hanlon||Dominic Mitchell||4 May 2014||364,000|
|Kieren Walker, in the now seemingly PDS-friendly world of Roarton, is keeping his head down, working soul destroying shifts in the Legion pub and squirrelling money into his 'escape fund'. The only problem is that he can't escape himself. In the wider world, tensions are re-igniting. The radical pro-living party, Victus, is whipping up hatred and the Undead Liberation Army is retaliating violently. When Victus MP Maxine Martin enters Roarton, Kieren is dismayed, sensing that danger is encroaching. And when Vicar Oddie violently clashes with her, it seems Kieren's instincts are right. Kieren is also overjoyed by the return of his BDFF (best dead friend forever), Amy Dyer, though his delight is cut short by a tense encounter with Amy's opinionated beau, ULA member Simon. When Amy and Simon reveal the prejudice still bubbling under the surface in Roarton, Kieren knows he needs to leave the village immediately.|
|5||"Episode 2"||Jim O'Hanlon||Dominic Mitchell||11 May 2014||297,000|
|Kieren's dreams of escape are left in tatters when Maxine imposes an Undead travel ban on Roarton, also introducing stringent measures for PDS Sufferers to pay back their debt to society; Kieren had almost succeeded in leaving for France, but due to Amy (who never bothers to look human) bothering him when he attempted to get a train ticket, he was refused. However, being thrust together with Simon on Maxine's 'Give Back' scheme has its benefits. The two have a connection, and Kieren agrees to go to Simon's Undead party that night, where Simon makes a surprising declaration. Simon explains that he doesn't romantically love Amy; he knows she just wants love and acceptance, which he provides in a nurturing and platonic way. Jem is troubled at school. A 19-year-old amongst 16-year-olds, she feels completely alienated, until she's revealed to be an ex-HVF war hero. Jem's reputation soars and she is befriended by the popular girls. However, when a PDS prank goes wrong, resulting in a terrifying rabid in the corridors, Jem is humiliated in front of her classmates. She gravitates to Gary, finding solace in a world she understands - hunting rabids in the woods. But it's here that disaster strikes.|
|6||"Episode 3"||Damon Thomas||Fintan Ryan & John Jackson||18 May 2014||367,000|
|Fate throws Kieren and Simon together on the ‘Give Back’ scheme, this time at the doctor’s surgery. Simon reassures Kieren that he’s not leading Amy on, but the pair come to blows when Kieren thwarts his plan to free two caged rabids. Hoping to get Kieren to see things his way, Simon tells him that Maxine's "Give Back" plan is a lie; zombies will be forced to do "free labor" indefinitely, never receiving the certificate that will allow them to be recognized as real citizens again. We also get to know PDS sufferer Freddie Preston. Freddie returned from the grave to find his childhood sweetheart Haley shacked up in their marital home with her new boyfriend Amir. Haley and Amir are allowing Freddie to stay in the spare room until he’s back on his feet. This is not ideal, as Freddie struggles with the notion of ‘till death do us part’ and is determined to win back the woman he loves. When Kieren is thrust into the aftermath of Freddie’s plan, he sees Simon’s views in a different light. Even though he hates the thought of hurting Amy, he can’t help but follow his heart.|
|7||"Episode 4"||Damon Thomas||Fintan Ryan||25 May 2014||112,000|
|Kieren is conflicted about seeing Simon behind Amy’s back and frustrated by his cult leader persona around the adoring Undead of Roarton. However, Simon proves how much he cares by stepping into Kieren’s world and having Sunday lunch at the Walkers’. Unfortunately, Amy witnesses the loved-up pair en route to Kieren’s house and is crushed by their betrayal. After a positive start, the Sunday lunch descends into chaos. A tipsy and trouble-making Jem and Gary descend on the meal, provoking Kieren into a confession which sends shockwaves around the family - and astounds Simon. Philip can’t reconcile himself with Maxine’s questionable politics and the two go head to head. Seeing Philip as a thorn in her side, Maxine orchestrates his downfall and is delighted when his Undead perversion is publicly revealed. Philip’s political aspirations come tumbling down around him, but a silver lining is provided by an unexpected romantic encounter.|
|8||"Episode 5"||Alice Troughton||Dominic Mitchell||1 June 2014||260,000|
|Kieren is wrongly accused of freeing rabids held at the hospital and is placed under house arrest with a view to returning him to the Treatment Centre in Norfolk unless he confesses; he is being scapegoated, so someone can be held accountable. With no support from the family (who wrongly believe he has taken on the views of the ULA) he seeks out Simon, but Amy tells him that Simon has gone to the city. Amy continues to date Philip, secretly fearing she may becoming resistant to the drugs that keep her from descending into her rabid state; however, when she begins to feel the rain on her skin, she realises that she is actually coming back to life instead. In the city Simon has received orders from the Undead Prophet to slay Kieren, in the belief that his demise will trigger the second rising; current evidence points to Kieren being the First Risen - the first zombie to rise. Struggling to reconcile this with his feelings for Keiren, Simon remembers his time at Norfolk, where he was the first of the Risen to respond to medical treatment and stop being rabid. However, he learned he had killed his mother while rabid, and his father's rejection of him drove him to join the ULA.|
|9||"Episode 6"||Alice Troughton||Dominic Mitchell||8 June 2014||299,000|
|Kieren awaits transfer to Norfolk but, with Simon returning to lead his followers in a Second Rising, Gary tries to force Kieren to help find him. At the village fete Amy is transforming into a human, and militant PDS sufferers have a stand-off in the graveyard against Jem and her rabid hunters. Gary forcibly drugs Kieren, turning him rabid and setting him loose, hoping to have Jem shoot him. Kieren holds on long enough to tie himself to a gravestone and passes out; when he wakes up rabid, Gary attempts to kill him to impress Jem. However, Simon ultimately rejects his ULA orders and saves Kieren from being shot. Kieren snaps out of his rabid state, happy he didn't hurt anyone. Jem promptly snaps at Gary for his sick plan to win her over. However, Maxine, who had believed Amy to be the real First Risen, murders her shortly after Amy becomes fully human again; Maxine desperately hopes that a Second Rising will revive her late brother. When this fails to trigger another Rising, Maxine has a public breakdown and attempts to murder another zombie, discrediting herself. However, this gives hope to other zombies that one day they could fully become human again. Amy is reburied, but that night her body is dug up by government workers wanting to the how she came back to life.|
In the Flesh received generally positive reviews, with praise being given to the series' premise. The Daily Telegraph's Simon Horsford praised Mitchell and called the premise "a clever idea", despite having initial misgivings over the continued use of zombies. Morgan Jeffery, writing for Digital Spy, called the idea a "risk". Comparisons were made between the show and previous shows aired on BBC Three: The Fades and Being Human.
The series launched with 668,000 viewers, the highest of all the episodes. The first episode was rated 3 out of 5 stars by Jeffery. Jeffery praised the performance of the actors and the cinematography, particularly highlighting the scene where Ken's wife is shot. However, he noted that there were times when "the two facets of In The Flesh fail to gel effectively". Overall, he believed it may not have "hit its stride" in the first week, but would continue to watch the show for the next two weeks. Den of Geek's Louisa Mellor also highlighted the scene with Ken's wife, and praised the episode. She said the story had a "reflective" feel, which distinguished it from other zombies stories.
The second episode received 392,000 viewers, a significant decrease from the first episode. However, critical response to the episode improved, and Jeffery rated the second episode 4 out of 5. He praised the banter between Kieren and Amy, as well as the appearance of rabid zombies toward the end. Mellor called Amy a "jolt of electricity on screen", and wanted to learn more about the thoughts of Bill Macy. Dave Golder, for SFX, also gave the episode 4 out of 5, and praised the episode's conclusion and rabid PDS sufferers. Golder felt Amy was occasionally "a little bit too broad", but praised her acting when Kieren reveals he killed himself.
525,000 viewers watched the finale, an increase from the previous episode but still not as high as the first one. Jeffery rated the episode 3.5 out of 5; he praised Cains and her interaction with Newberry, and the death of Rick, but noted that many plots were left unresolved.
The series won the BAFTA for a Mini-Series in May 2014. Series creator Dominic Mitchell was awarded a BAFTA for 'Best Writer - Drama' at the British Academy Television Craft Awards ceremony on 27 April 2014.
The series was nominated for the GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding TV Movie or Limited Series.
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