The People Behind #SaveInTheFlesh

ITF6

The #SaveInTheFlesh campaign has been one of the best word of mouth campaigns I’ve seen in many years.  I say this as someone who has participated any many including the campaign to get Hannibal a third season and the endless campaigning to keep Castiel on Supernatural practically every year.  My fandom activism goes all the way back to the days when we sent in bottles of Tabasco sauce to the network to save Roswell almost 15 years ago, so to say I’m impressed by their efforts comes with years of experience on the matter.  But the campaign to save In The Flesh is different from many other campaigns.  While saving their show is definitely a primary objective, they’re also targeting the masses and trying to gain new fans to a small show that really didn’t get the attention it deserved when it was on the air.  In this regard, the campaign has been hugely successful already.  It certainly got my attention.

For me the show first showed up on my radar when one of my authors initially recommended In The Flesh here on this website.  I noted that I should maybe watch that show someday, but didn’t put in an effort to watch it as it was airing.  When a second author wrote an article about how In The Flesh needed saving, I started to pay closer attention.  I admit that it wasn’t until the In The Flesh fandom came in and won the Favorite Summer Show poll that I finally sat down and gave the show a shot.  Their enthusiasm during that poll and the comments they left made me realize this show was something enormously special.

ITF7It’s clear that the show holds deep meaning for a lot of people and the uncertain future strikes me as a crime against a piece of media that’s so brilliantly crafted.  It’s not just a “zombie show,” but a show about humanity that tackles issues that many other shows are afraid to touch.  Their realistic take on mental health issues has struck a chord with a lot of people and has helped many deal with their own problems.  The fact that the protagonists, Kieren, is bisexual was also a major point that set it apart from many other shows for me.  I always want to support positive queer representation and his depiction is extremely well done.  I’m simply amazed that it took me so long to discover it, but now that I have I’m completely supportive of every effort to save this brilliant piece of work.

I got to talk with several members of the #SaveInTheFlesh campaign this week after they narrowly lost the Favorite Horror Themed Show poll on Monday.  As a Fannibal I’m still happy that Hannibal won, but the plight of the In The Flesh fandom definitely needs a spotlight at this very crucial time.  The show has been off the air for several months at this point with no sign from the network that there are plans to continue the story.  I’m happy to have the opportunity to talk with Kerry, who runs the Save In The Flesh Twitter and Tumblr accounts, and Zoe, who runs the Facebook page.  I also chatted with Vanessa and Kim, who have become leaders in the online movement and have dedicated many hours to rallying the troops.

How did you first hear about In the Flesh and why did you decide to actually watch it?

Kerry: I first heard about In The Flesh midway through series two. A close friend of mine often blogged about little niche shows which turned out to be pure gold – so I checked it out! After one or two episodes, I was hooked.

Zoe: I only tuned in to watch very grudgingly. I was still mourning the loss of Being Human UK and I thought In The Flesh would be a very poor substitute as it began in the same time slot a week later. I still remember to my eternal shame writing a disparaging Facebook status about it before watching it. Naturally, 5 minutes into the show I was hooked and here we are 18 months later.

Vanessa: I noticed the show on tumblr, which is, for me, the most important site for getting to know new shows. At first I thought, well it’s just another zombie show, but I was totally wrong. It was already July 2014 then so I was really really late.

Kim: I’m always on the hunt for good shows but I`m hard to impress. I heard about ITF from a friend and decided to watch it because I liked the look of the protagonist. There never was a show before that [caught] me so hard and didn’t let me go.

 

When did you get involved in the #SaveInTheFlesh campaign?

Kerry: I got involved shortly before the end of series two. I was moderately involved in the SaveTheHour campaign, which unfortunately didn’t succeed in saving another beautiful, brilliant, original BBC Drama. With the BBC cancelling shows like The Hour and The Fades due to figures, and BBC Three facing an uncertain future, I think everyone realised we needed to make our voices heard. Having experience in the past running blogs, I decided to start up the saveintheflesh social media sites!

Zoe: It started very gradually for me. I would tweet about the show, I got to meet other ITF fans and then slowly it just began to take over before I realised how heavily involved I was. I don’t regret it though, I’ve met some amazing like minded people through it and had lots of laughs even in the middle of the night frantically voting!

Kim: I finished watching it and searched for #intheflesh on twitter. I was shocked as I noticed it is about to be cancelled. A few weeks ago when the poll started I had this idea in my head to connect this awesome fandom cause every other fandom had huge fansides. So I started to contact every ITF fan I could find on twitter and created a Kik chat and the Facebook group to save this amazing piece of art.

Vanessa: Shortly after watching this show tumblr went crazy about this topic and I just HAD to join. Seeing what effort the fandom already made… So awesome. First I only reblogged a few things. Then I got involved in twitter by Kim. I can’t draw very well or edit videos so I tried to help with tweets, posts and telling my friends.

 

What type of accomplishments has the campaign achieved so far?

ITF2Kerry: We’ve had some amazing accomplishments so far! Not only has our campaign has been featured in publications such as RadioTimes and Metro, but we recently accumulated over half a million votes on The Geekiary’s Favorite Halloween Themed TV Show, beating popular primetime TV shows like Supernatural and Teen Wolf. Unfortunately, we lost out to Hannibal this year, but we sure gave them a run for their money.

Zoe: As well as the articles Kerry mentioned, the campaign has also been picked up on by Digital Spy (#SaveInTheFlesh – Will BBC Three’s BAFTA-winning series rise again?) and the petition to save In The Flesh has reached over 15,500 signatures. We also won the Geekiary summer show poll as well as coming very close runner up in the horror poll. That was massive for us as it has generated so much interest in the show. In The Flesh is tiny compared to the other shows on the list but the huge amount of votes and the fact we kept coming back from behind time and time again certainly got people talking about us. I’ve had so many people tweet me to say they had never heard of the show but would now be checking it out as a result. It was all really positive.

Kim: With the end of the poll we gained so much attention and even if we have lost, we showed a huge fandom what we are able to do for our show. It was beautiful to see how the whole ITF fandom stands together for this. This poll was a huge success for the fandom and the campaign, because now we can start to set things up and do bigger steps to become closer to our goal: #saveintheflesh.

Vanessa: And i think the most important fact for now is what bbcthree told us to do in twitter!

 

Have you done write in campaigns as well as online activism?

Zoe: We are currently working on something which we hope to be sending to the BBC Head of Drama soon. We’ve asked people to tell us why the show is so important to them and we are going to print them off and put them all together. The BBC need to see the love that people have for this show.

 

What’s next for the campaign?

ITF3Kerry: We hope to put into action some bigger, bolder ideas in the next few months. This fandom is such a talented, creative community and we want to express that and get everyone involved.

This week the Tumblr is running a fanmix challenge for Social Media Sunday, while the more Twitter side of the fandom has organised a great selfie campaign. We’re then taking a page out of SaveTheHour’s book and doing a written campaign, which we’ll be releasing details about soon! Later down the line we’d love to interview some of the cast and creators, schedule a UK meet up, and create a non-profit art project to showcase some of the amazing fanart which is out there! The more we can show the BBC that people are involved with the show, and more we can build In The Flesh’s audience, the more likely we’ll get a third series.

Zoe: Where to start? We have got loads of things coming up and planned for the future. We are currently running the appreciation campaign which is ongoing. We are tweeting the link to the BBC comments page as much as we possibly can so people can leave an appreciation comment for In The Flesh.  It’s these comments that the BBC really take notice of.

The next big thing for us is our monthly Social Media Sunday which takes place on the last Sunday of every month and has done since the show finished. This month though it is going to be a bit more visual as we are launching our ‘selfie’ campaign which is going to be good fun. We will be tweeting the BBC between 10 and 11pm with our selfies declaring our intention to fight for our show and why it needs to be saved. The point of this is to show just how far reaching the show is, people of all ages and from all over the world. After this we are also having our ITF online Halloween party, a couple of different video projects and then, if we haven’t got series 3 confirmed by the time Christmas rolls around, Kerry has come up with a great idea to give the BBC a very festive ITF treat!

Kim: We have many Ideas for the future and we won’t stop until we get our season 3. Be prepared BBC the Undead Liberation Army is coming!

 

What’s the relationship between the campaign and the show creators and actors?

Kerry: In The Flesh has one of the most interactive, friendly teams ever. As they support us on Twitter, we support them. I think what it shows is that they care about this show just as much as we do. Dominic Mitchell especially has been extremely supportive of our efforts, and it’s so lovely to see a cast which is so responsive to their fans! For a show which is so personal to so many people due to the subjects it deals with, I know it really means a lot. In the future, we would love interview the cast, creators and crew of In The Flesh, but at the moment most of our interaction takes place on Twitter.

Zoe: As Kerry says, Dominic Mitchell and the cast are incredibly supportive and encouraging to the fans of the show. You only have to look at their twitter feeds to see they are always retweeting artwork and things the fans have done. You always feel appreciated and valued being an ITF fan.

Kim: : That’s one of the most amazing things in this fandom. We are literally in contact with the writer Dominic Mitchell all the time. I’ve never seen any fandom that is so close to the creator of the show and it makes me really proud that I’m able to be a part of it.

Vanessa: Oh and we’ve got  funny and charming interactions with Dominic Mitchell on twitter didn’t we Kim?

Kim: Yeah, he wants to marry the whole fandom.

Vanessa: He even searched for a ring, but I suppose he will be imprisoned before our mass honeymoon.

Kim: So we have to save the show and the writer?  Challenge accepted! This fandom will be the first one where everyone’s last name is the same as the writer’s.

 

What does In The Flesh personally mean to you?

ITF1Kerry: In The Flesh is the show I needed three years ago, four years ago, five years ago. Mental illness in teenagers isn’t rare, but when you’re suffering with depression, or an anxiety disorder, or any other illness affecting mental health it’s hard. You feel so alone. You’re confused. When you have a mental illness at a young age it’s a constant fight, with yourself, with stress, with people’s expectations of you. In The Flesh is providing the representation we need – it’s telling you it’s okay, it’s telling you that it’s normal. In The Flesh covers so many issues – mental health, sexuality, family problems – something which almost everyone has been through in their life. For some people, it might save their lives, for others, it might make them feel a little better about themselves. In The Flesh might be a sci-fi show, but the way it deals with serious real life issues, like depression and suicide, and how it is helping viewers, can not be ignored or underestimated.

Zoe: I have never identified with a character as much as I do with Kieren Walker. As someone who has always been very much ‘a square peg in a round hole’ seeing someone on a BBC show who is the same and then showing the effect it can have on you is amazing. It makes you think ‘hang on, this isn’t just me then?’ I wish that there had been a show like ITF on when I was a teenager. People who haven’t seen it can so easily dismiss it as ‘a zombie show’ which is ironic as the heart of the show is about very human traits, depression, loneliness, not being able to communicate with those around you, sexuality, family relationships, all things which everybody experiences. It’s about learning to be ok with yourself and accepting yourself for what you are. That is such a strong message to send out. The best thing about it is that none of it is over dramatised or over played. All the characters are well developed and you care about them all because of that. There is not one character in it that you feel is simply a plot device. The female characters like Amy and Jem are especially strong and strong female characters who aren’t purely defined by their gender are hard to come by in just the same way that Kieren and Simon aren’t defined by their sexuality. It’s a show that looks beyond the labels and concentrates on the character.

Vanessa: Do you know the feeling deep down in your heart when you really can say that something hurt you very much? Losing people and feeling desperately guilty is something I know from my life. Not being able to look at yourself in the mirror. To just want to escape into something else let it be alcohol or just pretending to not be here but somewhere else. This show has touched me in many different levels, showed me that life will not be perfect but with family and friends on your side, with music and art, with finally accepting who you are, you can look at yourself in the mirror again and just say: This is who I am and I am okay with my flaws, my failures and my life.

Kim: In the Flesh means everything to me, it represents so many problems I’m personally up to everyday and it helps me to see things i’m afraid of in a different kind of view. As I finished the show I felt paralyzed because it had blown me away. I needed like one week to think about all these things and feelings In the Flesh brought up for me and I’m still speechless when I watch it again. This show will grab your heart and won’t let it go.  It will make you feel all the pain the characters have been through.  It will make you cry and think a lot about these problems. It will literally just change your life.

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In case you missed it in the interview, there are many things you can do right at this very moment to help support the campaign. You can head on over to the BBC comments page and leave them a message explaining why you want the show to be renewed and you can also sign the petition to save In The Flesh, which will help the BBC see just how many people this show has touched.  These two things will take just a couple of minutes of your time, but can have an enormous impact on the shows chances of being renewed.

I want to thank Kerry, Zoe, Vanessa, and Kim for taking the time to talk to me.  I also want to thank them for their hard work on this campaign and I hope they are successful.  Best of luck.  We’re rooting for you.

Author: Angel Wilson

Stephanie “Angel” Wilson is the admin of The Geekiary and a geek culture commentator. She earned a BA in Film & Digital Media from UC Santa Cruz. She’s contributed to various podcasts and webcasts including An Englishman in San Diego, Free to Be Radio, and Genre TV for All. She’s written for Friends of Comic Con and has essays published in Fandom Frontlines.



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