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Creator of Swedish sci-fi drama Real Humans disappointed Anglo-American adaption arriving on British screens instead of original

'To tell you the truth the decision [to remake the series] is all about business I’m afraid'

Richard Jinman
Sunday 17 May 2015 01:23 BST
A scene from the original Swedish version of the sci-fi TV drama ‘Real Humans’
A scene from the original Swedish version of the sci-fi TV drama ‘Real Humans’ (SVT)

The creator of the acclaimed Swedish sci-fi drama Real Humans says he is disappointed that British viewers’ first taste of the series will be an Anglo-American adaptation, rather than the original that has been bought by networks in 50 countries.

Lars Lundstrom told The Independent on Sunday that the decision to remake the cult hit as Humans for the UK and US markets is “weird” because British audiences, in particular, would feel right at home with the edgy Swedish original. British viewers have already fallen under the spell of subtitled Nordic noir dramas such as The Bridge and The Killing, and Lundstrom points out that the popularity of sci-fi dramas such as Doctor Who and Utopia suggests that the UK would readily embrace his vision of the future. He concedes that subtitled Swedish dramas are a “hard sell” in the American market and says the decision to adapt the series is “all about business”. The show’s distributor, Shine International, did not want to “disturb” the release of Real Humans by making the original series available in the UK and the US, he said, adding that he hopes Real Humans will eventually come to the UK.

Real Humans, which has been sold to more than 50 countries, including France, Germany and Australia, depicts a world in which eerily realistic humanoid robots (hubots) are employed as servants in many households. The series follows two families and looks at the emotional turmoil caused by the involvement of artificial humans.

Real Humans first aired in Sweden in 2012 and has been sold to countries including France, Germany and Australia (STV)

Lundstrom says he has no problem with Humans, an eight-episode remake of the Swedish series by Channel 4 and America’s AMC and currently being previewed in the UK. He says the scripts are “great” and appreciates the fact that the new series is “similar, but differs a lot as well”. “It’s not a carbon copy, which would be boring,” he added.

Some differences between the two series are subtle – the hubots in Real Humans, for example, are known as synths in Humans – others are more obvious. And the remake has no nudity, although the issue of sexual relations with robots is explored in both productions.

Lundstrom says he thought about the ideas behind Real Humans for years. He imagined a drama series about “robot servants that you could also have sex with”. “I was fascinated by what would that do to human relations,” he said. “Would it mess them up or help them?”

A key ingredient of the show’s success is the fact that it presents a very different view of synthetic humans from most sci-fi dramas.

“Many robot stories have been black and white – the humanoids are presented as a threat that has to be overcome,” said Lundstrom. “I think that’s boring. I tried to see the question from different angles and not be judgemental about whether they are a good thing or a bad thing.”

Would he have a hubot in his own home? “I would definitely buy one,” he said. “I’m too curious not to.”

A spokeswoman for Channel 4 said the company was “thrilled” to bring the adaptation of Lundstrom’s “wonderfully original” series to new audiences.

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