The Fades: Jack Thorne Interview

The writer of The Fades talks series two, Battlestar Galactica and why ET on Blu-ray will be great…

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We love The Fades at SFX : gripping, funny, superbly written and bursting with big ideas and fantastic performances, it’s the latest in a growing list of exciting home-grown sci-fi to have us utterly hooked. With The Fades released on DVD today, we spoke to writer Jack Thorne about his plans for a second series, why it’s scary writing sci-fi and filling Daniel Kaluuya’s head with Battlestar Galactica

SFX : What sort of reaction did you experience when The Fades aired?

Jack Thorne: Pretty good to be honest! I think it took a while for people to know what it was, and as soon as people knew what it was it went down really well. I feel good about it.

SFX: There are certainly a lot of people that want to see a second series.

JT: Well, we still don’t know one way or the other yet. They keep saying soon, but you know, it’s good that it’s not a no!

SFX : Do you know what will affect your chances?

JT: It’s a waiting game really. The financial review made it very tough for BBC Three generally, and I think that it’s a difficult situation.

SFX : Does it help that The Fades showed how far you can go on a fairly limited budget?

JT: Totally, and that’s all to do with the directors, the producers and the crew who were just incredible. In so many ways, I got so lucky making that show. I hope it does happen, but it was such a good ride and I’m really proud of it.

SFX : How close to your original idea did the show turn out in the end? Did it change a lot?

JT: Not hugely to be honest. The first episode went through 36 drafts, so it should have shifted quite a lot, but it was all about refining that original thing and trying to find a way into it. As you get to know something you change how you feel about it, but that original thing in my head, it’s not hugely dissimilar from that. The boys got a little older, who the Fades were changed a bit, but I wrote a series outline after about draft four of episode one, and we stuck quite closely to it. I wanted to go back in time in episode four, but other than that we stuck quite closely to it.

SFX : Was the idea with that to go back to the Second World War era?

JT: Yeah, exactly that, to a little Welsh village then. But if we get a series two I’m going to do it, so I shouldn’t talk about it too much. That’s was one of the things that I really wanted to explore, that time and what happened then. But I think it’s good that we didn’t answer those questions, because hopefully it’ll give us something to explore in series two.

SFX : It certainly felt in this series that there’s a lot about how things had broken back then we still don’t know.

JT: The important thing for me was that it felt complete in and of itself. I hate those shows that end with Paul facing John, and him raising his hand and then you cut to black. I’m not a bit fan of those shows, so I wanted to make it as complete in and of itself as we could. And then the exec producer turned to me afterwards and said what is there still to tell, and I gave her a list and she went “oh yeah, there’s quite a lot of stuff still to tell,” about who the Angelics work for, about what happened when ascension broke and all that kind of stuff. I think that’s still to explore and it could be a lot of fun.

SFX : How far ahead have you got planned out?

JT: Three series. I’ve got three series in my head, but that could be two series and a one off, or two one offs, depending on what gets offered to me. I’ve basically said I’m available!

SFX : Do you plan to always have Paul and Mac at the centre of things?

JT: Yeah it’s Paul and Mac’s journey, and I’ve got a very different thing in my head for what I’d do with the two of them if we get the opportunity to explore it, and where we could take them. Because the whole thing is sort of a love story between those two, and Mac is the human that will keep pulling Paul back.

SFX : One of the great joys of the show was the rapport between Mac and Paul – you must have had a lot of fun writing for those two?

JT: It was just literally me getting to relive my childhood with a friend that thought like me, which I didn’t have at that age. So there was a wish fulfilment thing going on – I don’t know which one I was, Mac or Paul, but whichever one I was I didn’t have a Mac or Paul!

SFX : How did you pick Mac’s favourite films and shows? Did you have to narrow it down and think “what was I into at that age”?

JT: I was always slightly scared of it. I think you need a big idea. I was slightly scared of doing it because I didn’t want to let myself down, and be hated. It really mattered to me what you guys said, the sites that I check every day, it really mattered to me, and if I’d been the show that had been the show that was just slightly embarrassing I’d have been really upset. With sci-fi or fantasy, to get it wrong you just end up looking like a dickhead and I was very anxious for that not to happen. Reading the reviews and reading the forums, the thing I loved was that it seemed to be different things to different people. And I’m sure that if we had a discussion about Battlestar , the things that I took from it would be different from the things you took from it, and that’s what’s really good about sci-fi and fantasy when it works.

SFX : What were your influences when you were writing? Was there anything you were watching or reading for inspiration?

JT: I was watching Friday Night Live and The Killing , because I couldn’t watch anything that was too similar. I couldn’t watch Being Human or Misfits , because I would just get too jealous almost that they knew how to do it. I’m more of a fantasy novel than a comic book person, so it was more Susan Cooper and Neil Gaiman, those sorts of people. I read Alan Moore, but I haven’t read every edition of Spider-Man, so it’s much more those slightly Pagan worlds that Gaiman and Cooper inhabit that are more my kind of thing.

The Fades is released on DVD today – don’t forget you can still read SFX ‘s episode reviews here at

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