Friday 16th January 2015; a grave day for In the Flesh fandom as BBC Three announced it was not going to be renewing the show for a third season due to budget cuts that include the channel’s on air presence remaining an uncertainty. However, fans of the series continue not to show any signs of accepting the cancellation, and are now petitioning to Amazon Prime and Netflix with the hashtag #RenewInTheFlesh on Twitter, hoping one will pick up and ultimately save the show.
A nine episode supernatural drama, In the Flesh follows Kieren Walker (Luke Newberry), a Partially-Deceased Sydrome Sufferer (i.e. a zombie) as he tries to readjust back into society. With this premise, writer and creator Dominic Mitchell as well as the other members of cast and crew are able to tackle real world issues such as depression and homophobia with serious sensitivity, while still being witty and fun in parts.
Many fans adore the show for its well-rounded and balanced characters such as Amy (Emily Bevan), Kieren’s BDFF or “Best Dead Friend Forever”, who provides a levity to counter-balance Kieren’s often sombre attitude. Many fans relate to these characters, feeling they are represented by the issues raised in the episodes. This is evident in the heavy push to save the show, as tweeters have pleaded for resolution in the world created by Mitchell in their strong connections to narrative arcs such as the identity of “The Undead Prophet”, or desiring to know how the characters move on from the shocking event at the end of series two.
Fans of the series continue not to show any signs of accepting the cancellation
#RenewInTheFlesh is the latest in an emerging trend of social media pushes to save various beloved TV series, and adds to the ongoing discussion about the ways in which traditional TV is declining, whilst streaming services are rising in power. One of the most recent examples of this is Ripper Street, another BBC production, which was cancelled due to poor ratings in its second series. Later, it was picked up by Amazon Prime UK after widespread fan protest, and is now enjoying successfully high ratings on its new home platform.
The campaign to save In the Flesh has been very similar. After the second series finished airing in Spring 2014, viewers waited to hear if they would get a third, hopefully to tie-up the cliffhanger ending they were left with. When no answer was forthcoming, devotees picked up the hashtag #SaveInTheFlesh, tweeting, emailing and complaining to the BBC about the lack of response. Even after having been replaced with #RenewInTheFlesh since last Friday, both hashtags remain prominent in the online surge to revive what is clearly more than just a zombie TV show to the people who watch it.
These hashtags are not simply randomly organised either. Tweeters such as ‘InTheFleshdom’, a fan-run account who keep followers up to date with all news surrounding the show, helps organise mass tweets, with tweeters collectively using the same hashtag at the same time in order to get on the top trending list and gain attention, acting as a solid community of fans rather than individual hopefuls.
This method has been used by others and is a great way of spreading news quickly, especially as casual fans may notice and thus join in the effort. ‘InTheFleshdom’ has been particularly effective in spreading petitions and polls, with connections in contact with the cast and crew of the show, meaning everyone can stay in the loop and not only bring fans closer to the show, but make them a part of it. Thus far, almost 35,000 people have signed an online petition to save the show via Change.org, with the number only expected to rise.
Already, fans have successfully organised themselves to win as many polls as they can, resulting in In the Flesh winning the Radio Times’ 2014 Best Show Award, beating Sherlock in the final. This is similar to Ripper Street’s victory in 2013, which fans hope bodes well for the former series being picked up by Amazon.
#RenewInTheFlesh is the latest in an emerging trend of social media pushes to save various beloved TV series
Only time will tell if the series will be renewed, but the online action taken by aficionados of In the Flesh demonstrates that fans are in a position to no longer be passive in their engagement of their favourite television shows. New media forms such as Twitter enable fandoms to have an audible voice when they would have previsouly been silent. Even in the landscape of television as a popular form that requires viewership to survive, although a channel may pass a verdict, this is no longer the final say on whether a show lives or dies.
The concept of the televisual revival is certainly not new, with shows such as Doctor Who and Futurama experiencing a rebirth of sorts in the 2000s. Yet, it is now the platforms in which they are relaunched which echo a somewhat populist sentiment in ther revival. Fan activity is only becoming more prevalent with the ever-increasing accessibility and uses of social media. Complementary to this are other new media forms: streaming services, which are actively listening to the requests of users, as is evident in Amazon Prime UK’s support for Ripper Street.
Streaming content is not just about simply reliving old shows anymore, but is considered a viable avenue to revive and keep shows running. Through intelligent use of social media, involving cast, crew, as well as organised fan activity, fans are finding creative ways to save the shows they love, though will have to wait to see if In the Flesh can successfully replicate this remedy for revival by getting picked up in the near future.