It’s coming up for Hallowe’en and it’s that time of year that our minds turn to all things ghoulish and ghastly, and all manners of spooky monsters come out to plague us. So of course, like many, my mind turns to the traditional type of monster. You know, your werewolves, zombies and, of course, your vampires. Here is where the CBBC show Young Dracula comes in.
First started in 2006, Young Dracula follows the life of Vlad Dracula, his older sister Ingrid and their father, the infamous Count Dracula, as they relocate from their home in Transylvania to the small British suburb of Stokley after an incident with a peasant mob with flaming torches. Until they are 16, vampire children – yes they can be born in this particular version – do not possess their full powers, can go out in the sunlight, and a generally undistinguishable from a ‘breather’.
Ingrid is everything that a vampire should be, cruel, vicious and mean. Just a pity, then, that the Count ignores her and lavishes all his attention on his precious son and heir. Vlad is a modern thinker, he doesn’t want to bite the breathers, he wants to befriend them. He manages to do this with local weirdo-goth-child, Robin Branagh, and his little sister, Chloe. Add in the new woodwork teacher who happens to be the local slayer, and his son and you’ve got a recipe for hijinks. It’s this dynamic that really gives you the push and appeal of the first series. It’s good fun, with great moments of suspense, and humour. And, admittedly, it’s probably leaning more towards your standard kids show fare – though with the bonus of the child actors actually being very good and, well, able to act.
Series two, however, saw a rapid change. The status quo was shaken up every single episode, and the episodes were darker in tone, more plot based. Halfway through the series, we find out Vlad is the long spoken of Chosen One, destined to lead vampires to glory. Perfect choice, the boy who hates being evil and would rather be anything but a vampire being the one to rule them all. Ingrid comes into her powers, someone is turned on screen! The Count is sentenced to death and to protect his family, Vlad claims his destiny, but it seems as though the sheer power of it all has killed him. The series closes on a close up of his flickering eyes and …
Well, that was about it. After the second series, the BBC was of the mindset that it could no longer afford to make the show. So all the props, costumes, and etc went into storage. The fandom – who are more currently going by ‘fangmily’ – sent emails, wrote petitons, made videos to show how much they were against this decision, but it appeared as if nothing were to be done.
Cut to four years later. It comes out at the beginning of April that yes, there will be a third series. But of couse, this is the beginning of April, it’s surely just a jo– wait, no, it’s completely true. The fangmily is overjoyed, and come Halloween, they’re ready. And it’s even better than they remember it being.
Which, really, seems be the best answer, if I were asked to sum up Young Dracula in a few words. “It’s better than you’d expect”. Because, honestly? It is. It always has been of couse, with a crew who treated their audience with respect, putting in in-jokes to various other incarnations of Dracula, including historical and the original novel. But from the third series, it’s as though everyone else has become aware of this fact. When Vlad placed at number 17 in their top 50 vampires of 2012 poll, SFX described the show as “some of the best telefantasy being produced in the UK at the moment”. And, in my humble opinion, I’d need to agree with them fully.
Oh it’s not perfect, it’s on a CBBC show budget, but the actors can act, the scripts are always interesting, and there is a general feeling that the crew expects their audience to be able to not just understand, but keep up and even theorise about the latest plot developments. Because, by now? Vlad’s gotten his powers, he’s almost 18, and the plot is forever thickening.
Series 4 is due to start on the 29th of October. Vladdy’s 18th birthday should be coming up soon. Who is prepared to bow to the new Grand High Vampire, and will our dear lead be able to prevent all out civil war from exploding?
…Well, I don’t know do I? Going to have to go and watch it to find out.
Z. McAspurren (The coolest bat you’ll ever know)
Young Dracula returns to CBBC on the 29th October. If there’s not an episode on as you’re reading this, why not check out our interview with Cesare Taurasi (Bertrand)?