The BBC is well known for their gripping dramas but they do give us some rip-roaring comedies too. Coming from the writers and performers behind ‘Yonderland’, ‘Bill’ and ‘Horrible Histories’, the newest series to hit the post-watershed mark, Ghosts promises all the silliness you would expect from this team, tickling the funny bone with momentary chills.
The half-hour six-episode comedy follows a young couple, Alison (Charlotte Ritchie) and Mike (Kiell Smith-Bynoe), a cash-strapped young couple struggling to buy their first home. The couple’s luck changes when a distant relative bequeaths them a sprawling country estate. The catch? The old house is haunted by the ghosts of its former inhabitants. The restless spirits horrified that the new owners plan to turn the peaceful pile into a bustling hotel, make plans to oust the troublesome newcomers. But their bungled efforts have unintended consequences…
It would be hard not to make comparisons to the series that spoke to a whole generation of audience; tonally we are in for one hell of daft ride ultimately coming from the bickering resident spectres, spectres that include ghosts that span hundreds, no thousands of years. Wise old Cavemen lacking in coherent sentences, gormless and trouserless businessmen, scullery maids and even a scout leader are just a few that are forced together under one roof, with a number vying for leadership.
As the series unfolds, although invisible to Mike, Alison doesn’t have the pleasure of not being able to see the ghosts after an incident lands her in hospital. Stuck in her situation she tries to make the best of a bad situation. Realising she is stuck with a wide variety of idiotic ghosts she just has to muddle her through the whole tiresome saga.
The multi-award winning cast of Horrible Histories Matthew Baynton, Simon Farnaby, Martha Howe-Douglas, Jim Howick, Laurence Rickard and Ben Willbond, have created and written the comedy and of course, have given themselves starring roles as the haphazard bungling Ghosts. It would seem the team that wins together just can’t keep away from a winning formula. Not being able to move on after Horrible Histories came to an end; Baynton just knew they had to do something else together. Gathered in a room, the team came up with the idea of Ghosts but initially rejected the idea.
“We came up with loads of funny images and characters, but then when it came to writing the stories we realised they don’t need jobs, they don’t fear death… they’re already dead! It suddenly felt like there was no jeopardy that we could write into it… So we abandoned it and went to work on to an alien, sci-fi idea – which is still in progress.”
Boynton went on to state that once they had thought about it, the idea of how the story was domestic and petty somehow worked.
“Something clicked and we realised the boredom of eternity and the existential aspects of the ghosts idea was unique. The stories could be really petty! We realised it was a house-share sitcom – and as soon as you stop thinking about those kinds of major drama stakes, you unlock a story that is really domestic and petty. “
If you are expecting the same silliness and tone of Horrible Histories there are some elements that tie together, but as a post-watershed slot should tell you the boundaries have been pushed just that little bit further, there is an edge of darkness to the storyline, a sense of maturity with a bucket full of cheek. Boynton stated that he hopes those that watched Horrible Histories the first time around will come back and continue to enjoy what maturity they have to offer.
“There are bits that are a little bit spooky and a little bit scary. We’ve allowed ourselves a little more cheek than that you are restricted to in a pre-watershed slot. The kids who are watching Horrible Histories, at least the first time around, now they are all grown up – hopefully, we’re making something so they can continue to watch us!”
With any luck, this won’t be the last we will be hearing from the series, with lots more material in their arsenal and back stories galore to explore the team are more than happy to return for a second season. It’s great to have them back together, lifting the nation’s spirits from its incessant doom and gloom.
Ghosts air on Monday the 15th of April on BBC One and also available on BBC IPlayer