The BBC are going all blockbuster sci-fi on our asses on Monday with Outcasts, a series from the bubbling brain of Ben Richards (creator of Spooks). Starring Hermione Norris, this eight-parter tells the story of a group of courageous pioneers who leave Earth in a bid to build a new and better future on another planet. A diverse group of individuals – led by President Tate (naturally..) leave their old lives behind in extraordinary circumstances. Promised a second chance at life, they created a society far away from their home, friends and family on the distant planet of Carpathia. In this interview Richards talks about his creation.
“Outcasts is fundamentally about second chances – whether human beings are capable of living together in peace and building a better place for their children. And although we join our group of pioneers at a time of crisis and potential division, the series does not take a bleak or pessimistic view of humanity.
Part of my motivation in the drama was to counter the view that humans are doomed to failure, that we are born bad, that chaos and disharmony will always prevail. All of the principal characters are driven during the series by their belief that they can make Carpathia work in spite of considerable obstacles. It’s a serious show but there are nuggets of humour throughout and I think the overarching message is an uplifting one.
I have always been fascinated by pioneers, and space was a place where we could present new challenges and really throw problems at the settlers just as their ancestors faced extraordinary privations and suffering in Australia and Virginia.
In the case of our space pioneers these take the form of new climatic conditions, of the consequences of early morally dubious decisions made with good intentions, or of finding out that we are no longer the dominant species and cannot therefore subject everything to our will as we did on Earth.
‘We are the aliens on Carpathia’, Tate observes – but are the settlers superior to the other life forms that they might not yet be able to see in the conventional sense? What might the attitude be of an advanced species to these clumsy new arrivals? I hope that these elements will generate the tension, mystery and, above all, emotional drama that make the show worth returning to.
Why the title? Well the question of who is truly an outcast is one that develops across the series. In a sense, all humans are fighting to overcome their sense of solitude and abandonment and the importance of human love in this process is fundamental to the show.
Ultimately, as Fleur observes late in the series, we may not be prisoners of either our genes or our environment. Human beings can design themselves.
Interview courtesy of the BBC Press Office. For more on Outcasts, check out the BBC’s blog.. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00x8fw4