Life On Mars Creators Mix Sci-Fi And Ghosts For BBC America’s The Living And The Dead

By Nick Venable | Published

This article is more than 2 years old

life on marsWhile some may feel the sci-fi genre has been cheapened in recent years by a constant co-mingling with other genres, I think it’s only helping to spread geekdom to unforeseen areas. As a horror fan, I especially love when science fiction takes on monsters and ghouls, and BBC America is betting on people like me tuning into their newest upcoming series, The Living and the Dead. A historical tale that mixes technology and spookiness, this particular genre mash-up comes to us from Matthew Graham and Ashley Pharoah, co-creators of the stellar time-hopping British crime drama Life on Mars.

BBC America has ordered six episodes of The Living and the Dead, which will take place in the community of Somerset, England back in 1888, when the town is at a crossroads between the traditional beliefs of the ancients and the broadening world of science and industrial technology. The series will center on Nathan Appleby, a “reluctant farmer obsessed with proving the existence of the afterlife,” a search that will probably prove fruitful, given this world is inhabited by ghosts, demons, and other mythical creatures. In other words, it probably isn’t the best place to build a quaint bed and breakfast.

The Living and the Dead will be a co-production between BBC America and BBC Wales, in association with BBC One’s Monastic Productions, while BBC Worldwide will be distributing. (Lest anyone thought this was going to be a U.S. exclusive.) BBC America has been pretty impressive in its adherence to sci-fi throughout its first couple of years in existence, with the recently returned Doctor Who as its flagship series and Orphan Black standing out as one of the most original thrillers in many years. Not to mention the network’s rehabilitated zombie import In the Flesh. These guys would have to try hard to mess up at this point.

Graham and Pharoah, who also created the Life on Mars spinoff Ashes to Ashes, say they’re “as excited about this show as anything since” those two series. Their goal is to make it “moving, tender, sensual…and very, very scary.” Will they be shooting for the freaky visuals of FX’s The Strain, a thriller that adds a scientific spin to the world of vampires? Or will it be more low-key and atmospheric, like John Pogue’s The Quiet Ones from earlier this year? Actually, that flick was also about a man in the past whose goal was discovering paranormal entities through vaguely scientific techniques. (But it wasn’t that great, so we’re hoping The Living and the Dead blows it out of the water.)

the quiet ones

Production for The Living and the Dead will take place in England’s West Country in 2015, and we can expect casting to begin immediately. Who do you guys want to see playing the ghost-hunting Nathan Appleby?