Being Human “A Spectre Calls” TV REVIEW

What’s it all about? Alfie!

Episode 4.04
Writer: Tom Grieves
Director: Daniel O’Hara

THE ONE WHERE Murderous ghost Alfie Kirby insinuates himself into Honolulu Heights and turns the housemates against each other.

VERDICT A decent episode, thanks largely to an excellent performance by James Lance, who is supremely creepy as Bri-Nylon-clad serial killer Kirby (and also a brilliant dancer!). Tom and Hal’s discomfort as they pretended to be a gay couple was very amusing (although call me a wet liberal but I also felt just slightly uncomfortable…) And seeing Annie getting her powers on was shocking. Something tells me that won’t be the last time we see her eyes turning an unearthly blue this series.

And yet… certain aspects left me unconvinced. I found the ease with which Kirby takes in Annie and Tom a little difficult to swallow (although, to be fair, Tom is naïve and Annie was equally quick to trust Hal – she’s just that kind of person). Then there’s the characterisation of Tom. Getting excited about birthday cake? Plastering magazine cuttings of happy families on his bedroom wall? I know he’s lived a sheltered life but still: he’s 21 years old, not 11!

I’m also struggling to get invested in the subplot about the machinations of vampire lawyer Cutler. Forcing the coroner to state that the Box Tunnel Massacre was carried out by a cannibal is clearly part of his ongoing scheme to present werewolves to the world as a terrible threat but I’m finding it strangely hard to care about this story thread. At the moment I can’t see how it’s going to pay off: you can make humanity fear werewolves as much as you like, but it’s not gonna make them greet vampires with open arms! Maybe it’ll all make sense and start to grab me once it comes into the foreground and becomes the focus of an episode.

IT’S WOSSISNAME! James Lance is a very familiar face, with roles in shows including Teachers , The Book Group , Boy Meets Girl , Moving Wallpaper and Sensitive Skin . He was also Travel Tavern employee Ben in I’m Alan Partridge , and Daisy’s boyfriend in three episodes of Spaced .

FEATURED MUSIC Interestingly, none of the music in this episode is actually from 1975, the year Kirby died – the closest we get to that is Alfie mentioning “Bohemian Rhapsody” (released in October of that year). Still, it’s good to hear Chicory Tip’s 1972 hit “Son Of My Father” (co-written by Giorgio Moroder, dontchaknow), the song that inspired a thousand football chants. Boney M’s “Gotta Go Home” , meanwhile (sampled recently for house track “Barbra Streisand”) wasn’t a hit until 1979. Oh, and Tom’s “out on the town” music is the appropriately titled “We Are Fucking Angry” by London punk band The King Blues .

READING MATERIAL Hal and Tom’s contrasting literary choices sum up the gulf between them rather well: Dostoyevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov and The Hotspur Book For Boys (copies of which are seen piled up on Tom’s bedside table). Good work, props department!

REFERENCES Kirby namechecks Star Trek and Starsky And Hutch , while Hal is a fan of Radio Four consumer show You And Yours .

NITPICKS Do they have TV in the afterlife? Kirby must have seen Starsky And Hutch post-mortem somehow, since although it began airing in 1975 it didn’t hit the UK until April 1976 – unless he went on holiday to the States in ’75, of course. Whaddaya mean, “overly pedantic”?

LOOKING FORWARD Tom’s fantasy alternate life (where he’s half of a “power couple”, married to a barrister) will crop up again in a future episode…

SPECULATION So, is Hal “the man with the burnt arm”? Doubt it – that’s just Toby Whithouse screwing with us, surely? I’m guessing that when the leader of The Old Ones finally turns up his entire limb will be burnt. Also, if ghost-girl-from-the-future wants to kill Eve, can’t she just pass through and do it herself? Maybe it’s because she actually is Eve and it would cause some kind of world-destroying temporal paradox if she did the deed herself?

BEST LINE Kirby: “Evil is like travelling first class. Try it once and you can never go back.”

Ian Berriman

Read more of our Being Human series four reviews .

Read our web-exclusive interviews with Damien Molony (Hal), showrunner Toby Whithouse and Michael Socha (Tom).

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