Utopia Series 3 cancellation was “callous” says Neil Maskell

Humans star Neil Maskell on why Utopia deserved a chance to finish its story

Utopia Neil Maskell
Maskell is pragmatic about the reasons for Utopia’s cancellation

Last October, it was announced that Channel 4’s acclaimed series Utopia wouldn’t be renewed for a third season, to the massive disappointment of fans everywhere. While Humans has proved to be a more than ample replacement, it hasn’t stopped people wondering what could have been.

One of those people is Neil Maskell, who played emotionless assassin Arby in Utopia, and is also currently starring in Humans, although at the same time he is sympathetic to Channel 4 regarding the difficult decision they had to make.

“I understand the pressure on people when people don’t watch the programme.” says Maskell while speaking to SciFiNow on the set of Humans. “I’m very proud of Utopia, I think it was a great thing to be involved with. It was good, but people didn’t watch it. And past two series you can’t really keep asking for the money.

Humans Neil Maskell
The actor is currently starring in Channel 4’s Humans

“What I do feel is, I wish… well, obviously I wish we’d known, but I know that Dennis was keen to do an hour and half or a two hour special to wrap it up, and I do think – it might be strong term to use – but I do feel it’s a betrayal of the people who give you 12 hours of their life watching it, to not give them a resolution or an ending and just say ‘No, we’re moving on to doing something else now’. That seems callous to me. So that was slightly annoying.”

Despite this, Maskell is pragmatic about the reasons for the cancellation, saying, “I also understand that you can’t keep banging out a six-part series for millions of quid when there’s nine people watching it who love it. But that’s all you get. Maybe it was too London-centric or something, that’s why it wasn’t being watched so much.

“I think it may be slightly like Nathan Barley… Someone said to me that no one watched that because it was so ‘in’. You got it if you were in our industry or you had any contact with the advertising people, but if you work in a factory every day and live just outside of Wigan you’re going to be like, ‘I don’t know who these people are or why it’s funny’, and that makes sense to me. Maybe Utopia had elements of that. Not so much in with the TV, but the media set made it feel like a much more popular programme… It felt more epochal than it actually was for most people.”

Humans is airing on Sunday evenings at 9pm on Channel 4. For more on the biggest TV series, pick up the latest issue of SciFiNow.