In the Flesh

Mitchell, Dominic (Creator), and Jonny Campbell (Director). (2013-2014). In the Flesh [Television series]. United Kingdom: BBC Three.

A screenshot of an unnaturally pale young man with yellow irises wearing hospital scrubs.

“Luke Newberry playing Kieren Walker in new BBC Three drama series ‘In The Flesh’” by University of Salford Press Office, February 25, 2013. Shared through Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 license.

In 2009, teenager Kieren Walker and thousands of others who died that year rose from the ground as rabid zombies. This crisis, dubbed The Rising, was centered in Roarton, Lancashire and resulted in the Pale Wars, where local militias formed and killed the undead that were threatening their communities. The government, working with scientists, forced the surviving undead into rehabilitation programs after the discovery of a medication that could bring them back to a conscious state.

This horror drama focuses on life in Roarton when Kieren and other Partially Deceased Syndrome (PDS) sufferers return. Kieren’s sister Jem was an integral member of the Human Volunteer Force (HVF), the local militia, and has mixed feelings about his rehabilitation. A small, insular community, Roarton is a hotbed of gossip, and the reintegration of reformed zombies causes quite a furor socially. In addition, local and national politics clash as a new political party called Victus introduces discriminatory policies in a quest to dehumanize PDS sufferers. Meanwhile, a radical PDS faction called the Undead Liberation Army (ULA), under the leadership of the Undead Prophet, is taking violent action to precipitate a Second Rising.

Besides being a PDS sufferer, Kieren also happens to be gay. He committed suicide after his romantic interest Rick was killed by an IED in Afghanistan. Initially, his sexuality is unclear; his love for Rick is revealed over the course of the first episode with contextual cues. His identity is not Gay Zombie; rather, he is a complex and interesting person, who happens to be gay and a zombie. In the second season, he seems more comfortable with his sexuality and begins a relationship with a fellow PDS sufferer, Simon.

In the Flesh had two seasons with a total of 9 episodes; sadly, it was not renewed for a third season due to budget cuts. This series is very well done. The acting is fantastic; the plot and character arcs are interesting and fresh; and the makeup and costuming are superb. It was nominated for three British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) awards. For more information, see the BBC Three page.

About Charlie McNabb

Archivist, Folklorist, and Legend Tripper
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