Picture a former mental asylum that has been spruced up to hide all the atrocities that were committed there. A fresh coat of paint, some wallpaper here, new shrubbery there; and the place is as good as new. And then the owners turn it into an apartment block. Great thinking, but as we know, you can’t hide the ghosts with a simple trip to Sherwin-Williams. This is “Bedlam.”
Originally airing in February and March on UK’s Sky Living HD Channel, “Bedlam” will be making its domestic debut in October as part of BBC America’s Supernatural Saturdays. One of the three series creators, David Allison, and star Theo James sat down with us at San Diego Comic-Con 2011 to discuss the series’ jump across the pond.
“It’s a six-part supernatural series that was a hit in the UK,” Allison said. “It was in development for five years and is a part of the sci-fi and supernatural revival we’re seeing in the UK right now.”
Created by Allison, Chris Parker and Neil Jones, “Bedlam” follows an “X-Files” type structure featuring a ‘ghost-of-the-week’ while arcing the story from one episode to the next.
Talking about the development, Allison said, “The main thing we wanted was for it to be scary. We thought movies do it, but TV isn’t scary a lot. There’s plenty of supernatural stuff, but we wanted it to be fill up your pants scary.”
Theo James, who plays Jed Harper, the unfortunate character who can see the spirits, commented on the power the story has by being inspired by an actual hospital. “It’s based on a real hospital, and the stories are inspired by real case files, some of them as recent as the ’80’s. The patients died in horrific way;, they were lobotomized illegitimately and tortured at the hands of pretty sadistic nurses. So there’s something quite disturbing about the material.”
Allison added, “Asylums are crazy places. They were sort of on the edge of medical science and were really just experimenting on people. They didn’t know what lobotomies did. They just took half a person’s brain out to see what the results would be, and mostly the result was awful.” He continued, “We wanted to be rooted in darkness. To be set in a place where really bad things happened.
The series also stars Charlotte Salt, Will Young, Ashley Madekwe and Hugo Speer alongside James. “The ghosts themselves are very real,” James said. “They’re warped by the suffering they’ve been through. They’re really fucked up and out to kill people. They’re angry.
And in describing his character with the ability to see ghosts, James said, “He’ll get hit by this flashback that will really fuck him up. And the closer it gets to the ghost exacting his revenge, the stronger the visions get and the more worried Jed gets until hopefully he can help the spirit. But that doesn’t always happen.
Allison explains that to keep the audience guessing, things don’t always work out positively. “It’s a case-by-case basis and he doesn’t always succeed, and I think that makes things so much less predictable. We’re hoping that will help with the longevity of the show.”
And when asked about the F/X used by “Bedlam,” Allison spoke on working with a limited budget. “You have to be really inventive with the way you tell the story,” he said, “and with the ghosts and effects, you have to get really creative. But he simpler the story, the better it works out if you play on those basic, primal fears.”
“Bedlam” comes Stateside on October 1st. Check out “Bedlam” on BBCAmerica.com or get a taste of the series from the trailer below. Welcome to America!
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