Paul Tomalin is one of the many minds behind Bodies, Netflix's time-binding thriller starring Stephen Graham. An overnight hit, the series is already the UK's number one Netflix show, and fans have nothing but glowing reviews. Putting a fresh spin on the detective drama is no easy feat, but Paul and the rest of the writing team have pulled it off masterfully.
A truly unique story, Bodies follows four different detectives, existing in four different time periods, who each encounter the same dead body. Connected by one, perplexing case, each detective hopes to crack it, but with endless twists and turns, nothing's as it seems.
Speaking exclusively to HELLO!, Paul – known for his work on No Offence, Torchwood and Shameless – revealed what it was like working on the popular show, and he also opened up about the possibility of a season two...
Signing on to Netflix's Bodies
Based on Si Spencer's graphic novel of the same name, as soon as Paul encountered it, he knew it was something special. "When I sat down to read the graphic novel for the first time, I was just like, 'This is the wildest thing I've ever read,'" he explained. "It was like an acid trip. It was this totally bonkers thing that sprang from this wonderful 'Why didn't I think of that' premise.'"
Initially reluctant to take on such a "crazy" story, Paul eventually changed his tune. "I initially said 'Look, I can't do this. It's just too much of a lobotomy," he recalled, but after getting to work on the series, he quickly found his footing. Using the original graphic novel as a "road map", Paul and his fellow writers stuck wholesale to the characters, timelines, and general ideas, but they eventually realised that a piece of the puzzle was missing – and that's exactly where Stephen Graham's character came in.
"I think as we got further on, we realised where the holes were that we needed," explained Paul. "And we quite quickly realised that we needed Stephen Graham's character to basically become an engine to keep things going in the direction we wanted.
"He's a massive part of the story, obviously. And his character, he's not in the graphic novel, but what he embodies and his spirit thematically is wholesale to the novel. And that's what we did."
Watching Stephen Graham bring Elias Mannix to life
As for what it was like working with the man himself, Paul has nothing but high praise for Stephen Graham. "So Stephen, I must confess because it was all shot during Covid, I didn't have much contact with him at all, but it was just kind of like 'Stephen Graham's doing it.'"
"Having Stephen Graham on board meant for me..it was this major validation of what we were shooting for, what we were aiming for," added Paul. "And then it just meant like, 'Right buddy, you're writing for Stephen Graham, you better make sure your fingers are up to the task.'"
While Paul didn't get lots of face time with the actor, he was left in awe after seeing how Stephen brought the character of Elias Mannix to life.
"Me and Danusia Samal, a co-writer, we gave it everything we had and what we'd do is we'd send him his scenes and stuff and he'd come back with his notes and his comments.
"He knows the power of silence and a look and it's amazing, you know, it's like watching a great tennis player or, you know, watching that Beckham documentary on Netflix; just seeing the way he can kick spin on something and he can just say a line and just at the end of it, give a look or a flick or an intonation that elevates it and gives it grace."
Will there be a season two of Bodies?
So, after the enduring success of Bodies, is there a possibility of a second season? Paul is open to the idea, but he also wanted the show to feel complete by the series one finale.
"We went to Netflix like 'This is one series, this is a one and done, we wanna close this off' because I think when you have such an amazing concept up front, you [expletive] your audience off if you don't solve it," he said. "As the viewer, I hate it when you get this amazing thing. And at the end it's like, 'Duh, duh, duh,' and you're like 'Right so I've got to wait a year and a half.'
"I think it's a duty to an audience with something that's this propulsive as a story concept to end it and solve it. So we really wanted you to feel that you'd seen the red curtain at the end. That being said, when you see the back end, there's certainly a dot dot dot. But the premise that the show sets comes to an end.
Paul added: "I think we've done it in a really satisfying way and I'm proud of that because as a writer, you actually don't often get to deal with endings, like true endings. And it was a privilege to be like, well, if it doesn't get a second season, then this is the meal, there's the dessert, there's the coffee. It's the whole thing. Closure."
While there's no confirmation of a sophomore season, here at HELLO! we're holding out hope – the world of Bodies is far too intriguing.