TV got in on the robotic sci-fi action in 2015 with the arrival of new cybernetic drama, Humans, a new co-production from Channel 4, AMC, Matador Films and Kudos. Set in an alternate present day in which the key difference is more advanced cybernetic technology, it’s a dark take on a topic that’s normally covered in big screen productions like AI and I, Robot.
The air date for the new drama was officially confirmed by Channel 4 in June 2015 with the series premiering at 9pm on Sunday the 14th June 2015. It aired weekly every Sunday night with eight 1-hour episodes in Series 1. For anyone reading this from the US, Humans also aired over on your side of the world, arriving a little later in the year on AMC on the 28th June 2015.
The story takes place in an imagined version of our present day lives where the tech craze sweeping the nation is robotic simulates called Synths, which look for all intents and purposes to be identical to humans. Highly developed robotic servants, they’re the must-have gadget for the family on the go, but as you’d expect, there are inevitable complications to adding a new member to a household overnight.
The plot focuses on a busy suburban family that manages to save up enough for a reconditioned Synth called Anita in the hopes that she’ll be the key to improving their lives. However, with the beautiful and strange life-like servant under their roof they find that the consequences are significant and the ramifications chilling as they get a cyborg that brings with it much more than they’d bargained for.
Anita was played by actress Gemma Chan (pictured above), who you might recognise from her role as Ruth in the first series of Fresh Meat. She’s joined in the cast for Humans by William Hurt (The Incredible Hulk, A History Of Violence) as Dr. George Millican, a retired artificial intelligence researcher, the indomitable Katherine Parkinson (The IT Crowd) as wife of the family, Laura, Tom Goodman-Hill (Mr Selfridge) as her husband Joe, Colin Morgan (Merlin) as Anita’s fellow synth Leo, Rebecca Front (The Thick Of It) as a domineering medical synth, and Neil Maskell (The Mimic) as D.S. Pete Drummond.
Emily Burlington stars as Niska and Ivanno Jeremiah plays Max, synths linked to Leo.
Filming took place in Autumn 2014 with executive producers Jane Featherstone and Derek Wax for Kudos and Henrik Widman and Lars Lundström for Matador Films bringing it all together. Chris Fry (The Smoke) is the series producer and the story has been written by Sam Vincent and Jonathan Brackley, who adapted it from Real Humans, the original Swedish production that the plot comes from.
Check out the trailer below to see things in action and you can also read about the unconventional commercial the show put out to promote the arrival on Channel 4 back in 2015, which made a lot of viewers double-take when they thought they’d seen an ad selling androids and an accompanying store on London’s Regent St. The success of the opening eight episodes has resulted in the commission of a second series by Channel 4, which aired in October 2016, so if you haven’t seen Series 1 yet then you might want to get on over to More 4 to catch up. Series 2 is also still available watch as a box set, which is convenient with the news that Humans Series 3 has also been commissioned by Channel 4 and AMC.
Humans was an interesting proposition that takes it’s cue from a similar concept to that which was a big part of Film 4’s Ex-Machina. It’s a little like the suburban incarnation of Blade Runner, as it managed to tap into the same theory of unstable advanced robotics, questioning the drive to create cybernetic servants. It made for a great new take on the principle, delivering a tense sci-fi drama with strong characters and the framework for an ongoing series.