Humans (TV series)
|Based on||Real Humans|
|Theme music composer||Cristobal Tapia de Veer|
|Country of origin|
|No. of series||3|
|No. of episodes||24 (list of episodes)|
|Production locations||London, England, UK|
|Running time||46 minutes|
|Distributor||Endemol Shine UK|
|Picture format||HDTV 1080i|
|Original release||14 June 2015 –|
5 July 2018
|Channel 4 official website|
|AMC official website|
Humans is a science fiction television series that debuted on Channel 4. Written by the British team Sam Vincent and Jonathan Brackley, based on the Swedish science fiction drama Real Humans, the series explores the themes of artificial intelligence and robotics, focusing on the social, cultural, and psychological impact of the invention of anthropomorphic robots called "synths". The series is produced jointly by AMC in the United States, and Channel 4 and Kudos in the United Kingdom.
Eight episodes were produced for the first series which aired between 14 June and 2 August 2015. The second eight-episode series was broadcast in the UK between 30 October and 18 December 2016. A third series was commissioned in March 2017 and aired eight episodes between 17 May and 5 July 2018. In May 2019, Channel 4 announced that the series had been cancelled.
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The series focuses on the social, cultural, and psychological impact of the invention of anthropomorphic robots called "synths". It explores a number of science fiction themes, including artificial intelligence, consciousness, human-robot interaction, superintelligence, mind uploading and the laws of robotics.
Introduced in series 1
- Manpreet Bachu as Harun Khan (series 1), a friend of Mattie, who helps her hack the synths.
- Emily Berrington as Niska, a conscious synth built by David Elster to be Leo's sister, assigned to work as a prostitute when they were separated. She is violent and resentful of humans and wishes to live her own life, but later starts to care about humans. In the second series, she uploads the consciousness program to the synth network, but only a few synths are successfully upgraded. After a whirlwind relationship with Astrid, Niska returns to the Hawkins and asks to be tried as a human for her crimes. In the third series, after Astrid is injured in a terrorist attack, Niska spends the series looking for revenge for her girlfriend. At the end of the third series, Niska meets V, originally Odi, who tells her she is unique and has great power.
- Ruth Bradley as Karen Voss (series 1–3), a detective inspector and the partner of Detective Sergeant Pete Drummond. Those around her have not discovered that she is a conscious synth and was created by David Elster to replace his deceased wife, Beatrice. Karen wants to end her life but her programming forbids suicide. By the second series, she has become more accepting of her status and is in a relationship with Pete.
- Lucy Carless as Mattie Hawkins, Laura and Joe's teenage daughter, who is upset that her family is falling apart and angry at the emerging role of synths in society. Despite her own intelligence, she feels useless, claiming that synths will soon be able to do anything she can do. She is skilled in computer programming and hacking.
- Gemma Chan as Anita/Mia, a servile synth belonging to the Hawkins family. She was sold as new, but is actually Mia, a conscious synth built by David Elster to be Leo's babysitter, kidnapped and hacked with new software. By the second series, she has begun working in a café, and is romantically interested in her employer.
- Pixie Davies as Sophie Hawkins, Laura and Joe's younger daughter. She names the new family synth Anita after a friend of hers who has moved away, and develops a strong affection for the synth.
- Jack Derges as Simon (series 1), Jill Drummond's attractive synth caregiver and physiotherapist. Pete is dissatisfied with Simon, thinking that he is his replacement.
- Sope Dirisu as Fred (series 1), a conscious synth built by David Elster to be a brother to Leo. Professor Hobb likens Fred to the Mona Lisa in terms of the complexity of his design. He has gone missing between the first and second series, although Max believes that he is safe.
- Rebecca Front as Vera (series 1), a medical synth from the NHS who is supposed to replace Odi as George Millican's caregiver. Millican is frustrated with her relentlessly officious and domineering manner, and generally refuses her help.
- Tom Goodman-Hill as Joe Hawkins, Laura's husband. He bought Anita because he felt Laura's absence caused a void, and he needed help managing their family.
- Jill Halfpenny as Jill Drummond (series 1), Pete's disabled wife. She is dissatisfied with Pete.
- Ivanno Jeremiah as Max, Leo Elster's conscious synth and confidant, built by David Elster to be a brother to Leo.
- Neil Maskell as Pete Drummond (series 1–2), an unhappy Special Technologies Task Force detective sergeant who has always been suspicious of synths. He is partnered with Karen Voss. By the second series, Pete and Jill have separated and Pete is shown to be involved with Karen despite his knowledge of her true nature.
- Colin Morgan as Leo Elster, son of David Elster, a part-synth fugitive believed by the rest of the world to have died in a car accident; he was in a fatal accident as a child and his father developed synth components to cope with the damage to his brain. He spent the first series trying to track down and reunite the conscious synths made by his father, while in the second series he is trying to help synths adjust to the spread of the consciousness program.
- Katherine Parkinson as Laura Hawkins, a lawyer and mother of three who feels uncomfortable around synths. She had concerns about Anita and sought to find out more about her. By the second series, she had become more accepting of the idea, agreeing to act as Niska's lawyer in her subsequent trial for murder while Niska underwent an assessment to determine if she was truly conscious.
- Theo Stevenson as Toby Hawkins, Laura and Joe's teenage son, who is attracted to, and has become protective of, Anita.
- Will Tudor as Odi (series 1–2), George Millican's malfunctioning synth caregiver. He is prone to system glitches, though Millican is unwilling to recycle him or return him to the NHS. He stays with the Hawkins briefly in the second series.
- Tudor also portrays V (series 3), an artificial intelligence developed by Athena Morrow based on her deceased daughter Virginia. Following Day Zero, V inhabits Odi's body, having erased his consciousness at his request, and becomes the mythic purple-eyed "Synth Who Sleeps". V leads Niska to her so as to grant her connectivity to the internet and persuade her to become the synths' leader. Chloe Wicks voices the disembodied V in the second series.
- Danny Webb as Edwin Hobb (series 1–2), an artificial intelligence researcher. He is simultaneously concerned about and intrigued by the possibility of conscious synthetics. Hobb is a key player in the quiet government investigation to find the four synths deemed a threat.
- William Hurt as George Millican (series 1), a retired artificial intelligence researcher and widower who suffers memory loss and physical disabilities secondary to a stroke. He forms a special bond with his outdated caregiver synth named Odi. He previously worked with Leo's father.
Introduced in series 2
- Marshall Allman as Milo Khoury (series 2), a techno-entrepreneur and owner of Qualia, a synth research corporation, who seeks to harness the sentient synthetics for himself.
- Sonya Cassidy as Hester (series 2), a synth who becomes self-aware from the consciousness program unleashed across the world. She is rescued from a synth-laboured facility by Leo and co., but soon starts to exhibit disturbing behaviour.
- Carrie-Anne Moss as Athena Morrow (series 2), an AI researcher based in San Francisco who has been invited to reverse engineer the consciousness program. She presents herself as unconcerned about the conscious synthetics, but in reality she has already independently developed her own sentient AI, who she refers to as "V" (for Virginia, her daughter), and is attempting to provide V with a new body.
- Thusitha Jayasundera as Neha Patel (series 2), a government lawyer whose initially hostile stance towards the synth cause will eventually prove to be more sympathetic.
- Billy Jenkins as Seraph Sam (series 3; recurring series 2)
Introduced in series 3
- Holly Earl as Agnes (series 3), a synth in Mia and Max's group. She is suspicious of their leadership and sympathizes with the terrorists.
- Ukweli Roach as Anatole (series 3), a former courtesan synth who believes in a higher power, namely David Elster, and that synths were always meant to be given consciousness.
- Mark Bonnar as Neil Sommer (series 3), a charming scientist on a government commission with whom Laura develops a strong personal connection.
- Dino Fetscher as Stanley (series 3), an "orange-eyed" synth given to a reluctant Laura by the Dryden commission group as her personal synth and protector.
- Phil Dunster as Tristan (series 3)
- Ellen Thomas as Lindsey Kiwanuka
- Jonathan Aris as Robert
- Stephen Boxer as David Elster, Leo's father and the creator of the conscious synths
- Spencer Norways as young Leo Elster
- Letitia Wright as Renie (series 2), a human who lives as if she were a synth and whom Toby dates
- Bella Dayne as Astrid, a waitress who becomes romantically involved with Niska, helping Niska become more emotionally invested with humans
- Ritu Arya as Flash (series 2–3), a house synth who, like Hester, becomes self-aware from the consciousness program. Flash is rescued by Max, and they find a new safe haven in an abandoned train.
- Sam Palladio as Ed (series 2–3), Mia's employer, with whom she forms a special bond. He is the owner of a beachside cafe.
- Akie Kotabe as Ji Dae-Sun
|Series||Episodes||Originally aired (UK)||Avg. UK viewers|
|Avg. US viewers|
|First aired||Last aired|
|1||8||14 June 2015||2 August 2015||4.12||1.18|
|2||8||30 October 2016||18 December 2016||1.93||0.47|
|3||8||17 May 2018||5 July 2018||1.05||0.35|
The series was announced in April 2014 as part of a partnership between Channel 4 and Xbox Entertainment Studios. However, after Microsoft closed Xbox Entertainment Studios, AMC came aboard as partners to Channel 4. Filming commenced in the autumn of 2014, with the series premiering on 14 June 2015. The series' budget was £12 million.
The commissioning of a second, eight-episode series to air in 2016 was announced 31 July 2015. Gemma Chan had previously said, in an interview with Den of Geek, that the first series is "not completely tied up at the end" and "there are definitely still areas to be explored for a second series." Similarly, C4's Head of International Drama, Simon Maxwell, told Broadcast's Talking TV podcast that: "We've got a story that is told over a great many episodes and is very much designed to come back and return. We'll be following those characters on a really epic journey." Filming of the second series began on 11 April 2016, with a premiere date of 30 October 2016.
A third series was commissioned in March 2017 and premiered in the UK on 17 May 2018, and in the United States on 5 June 2018. By August 2018, discussions were ongoing about a possible fourth series. Channel 4 announced in May 2019 that there would not be a fourth series.
During rehearsals, Gemma Chan and her fellow robot actors were sent to a 'synth school' run by the show's choreographer, Dan O'Neill, in a bid to rid themselves of any human physical gestures and become convincing synths. "It was about stripping back any physical tics you naturally incorporate into performance", explains Chan, who adds that it was a "relief to go home and slouch" after a day on set.
A number of scenes for the second series were filmed in Thanet, Kent. The production team used Botany Bay and West Bay as filming locations, while shots of the farm and fields overlooking the factory were filmed in Dagnall. The scenes were predominantly centred on Anita at work.
Broadcast and release
The first episode of the series was broadcast in the UK on Channel 4 on 14 June 2015 and premiered in the United States and Canada on AMC on 28 June 2015. It started airing in Australia on ABC2, on 3 August 2015. It was shown on TV3 in New Zealand from 11 August 2015.
For one week in May 2015, the series was marketed using a fake shopfront for Persona Synthetics on London's Regent Street, inviting passers-by to create their own synth using interactive screens, and employing actors who pretended to be synths around central London. An accompanying Channel 4 trailer for the series in the style of an advert for Persona featured "Sally," a robotic servant described as "your new best friend." In addition, website banner adverts appeared on the eBay UK website leading to an eBay "buy it now" listing for a Persona Synthetics Robot.
Channel 4 DVD released the first series on DVD in the UK on 17 August 2015. Spirit Entertainment released the second series on DVD in the UK on 16 January 2017. Spirit Entertainment released the third series on DVD in the UK on 29 January 2019 
In Region 1, Acorn Media has released both seasons on DVD & Blu-ray. Humans – Season 1: Uncut UK Edition was released on 29 March 2016. Humans – Season 2: Uncut UK Edition was released on 31 October 2017.
The first season of Humans received positive reviews from critics. Review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes gave the season an 88% based on 60 reviews, with an average rating of 7.3/10. The site's critical consensus reading: "Humans is a mature, high-octane thriller offering emotional intrigue and thought-provoking suspense that should prove irresistible to sci-fi fans while remaining accessible enough to lure in genre agnostics." Metacritic gave the season a rating of 73 out of 100, based on 25 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews."
The second season received critical acclaim. On Rotten Tomatoes, the season has a score of 94%, based on 17 reviews, with an average rating of 7.8/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Humans continues to quietly distinguish itself in the sci-fi drama category – and prove better than most of its flashier AI competition." On Metacritic, the season has a rating of 82 out of 100, based on 8 reviews, indicating "universal acclaim."
The third season received critical acclaim. On Rotten Tomatoes, the season has a score of 100%, based on 12 reviews, with an average rating of 6.0/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Humans gains new sociopolitical dimensions in its third season, mining deeper insight from its sci-fi premise without diluting the potency of its well-drawn characters."
The show is Channel 4's highest rated drama since the 1992 programme The Camomile Lawn. It has been described as having "universal appeal" and as being "one of 2015's dramatic hits." The show has been described as "a bit dystopian and Black Mirror-esque." A review in the Telegraph praised the show's performances but said that the story is "conceptually ... old hat" and "wasn't breaking any new ground philosophically."
In December 2015, Humans was voted Digital Spy's "Top Show of 2015," described as managing "to stand out as something totally different in a TV landscape awash with cop shows and crime thrillers... And its fearlessness, its creativity and its quality all deserve to be recognised."
Awards and nominations
|2015||British Screenwriters' Awards||Best British TV Drama Writing||Joe Barton, Jonathan Brackley, Sam Vincent and Emily Ballou||Won|||
|Royal Television Society: Craft and Design Awards||Design Titles||Momoco||Won|||
|Trails & Packaging||4Creative||Nominated|||
|Television: Drama Series||Humans||Nominated|||
|Television Craft: Digital Creativity||Development Team||Won|||
|Television Craft: Editing – Fiction||Daniel Greenway||Nominated|||
|Broadcast Awards||Best Drama Series or Serial||Humans||Nominated|||
|Broadcasting Press Guild Awards||Best Actress||Gemma Chan||Nominated|||
|Best Drama Series||Humans||Nominated|||
|Breakthrough Award||Gemma Chan||Nominated|||
|National Television Awards||New Drama||Humans||Nominated|||
|Royal Television Society: Programme Awards||Best Drama Series||Humans||Nominated|||
|Satellite Awards||Best Genre Series||Humans||Nominated|||
|South Bank Sky Arts Awards||Best TV Drama||Humans||Nominated|||
|Televisual Bulldog Awards||Best Drama Series||Humans||Won|||
On 25 July 2018, it was announced Roland Moore would be head writer on a Chinese version of Humans in Mandarin, produced by Endemol Shine China and Croton Media. The series began airing on Chinese broadcaster Tencent on February 19, 2021.
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