This review is spoiler-free.
“A cash-strapped young couple, Alison and Mike, inherit a grand country house, only to find it is both falling apart and teeming with the ghosts of former inhabitants. After a near-death experience, Alison is now able to see and interact with the ghosts. Alison and Mike’s renovation plans soon come under threat, as the ghosts like things the way they are! Can they all get along? Or will something have to give?”
The BBC have just announced that their latest sitcom Ghosts, has been given a second series. And I for one am very pleased (and relieved) to hear this news.
The first series saw an impressive average of 3.6 million viewers! That is a solid number for the show’s position on the BBC schedule. In terms of the show’s audience, they have this real sweet-spot in terms of viewership. Those who grew up with Horrible Histories (2009-2013) are now in adulthood, so they have that fan base on top of the younger audience that the show’s humour appeals to. Just like Horrible Histories, the jokes are as much for adults as they are for a teen audience. Ghosts gets the balance right, which I imagine was a difficult juggling act when it came to writing the show. On one hand, you have characters who could easily slot right into an episode of Horrible Histories, but then on the other, you have characters like a disgraced MP who died in a sex scandal. And no he never wears any trousers! So while the show definitely could be on at an earlier time slot, I like that the level of comedy has a strong undercurrent of adult humour.
In terms of the cast, the biggest selling point for me is the ghosts. If you enjoyed Horrible Histories or Yonderland then I’m sure you’ll have that feeling too! This hilarious troupe consists of Mathew Baynton, Simon Farnaby, Martha Howe-Douglas, Jim Howick, Laurence Rickard and Ben Willbond. They have been entertaining people for well over a decade now. Their ability to write and perform unique characters is just as strong as their humour. Their real-life friendships also help with the characters onscreen chemistry. Alongside the show’s strong writing, this core cast is the show’s most important aspect.
Joining this talented group are Charlotte Ritchie (Alison) and Kiell Smith-Bynoe (Mike) as the young couple tasked with renovating the dilapidated manor house. Charlotte Ritchie does a wonderful job as one of the co-leads. You really invest in her character and the journey she undertakes throughout the series. I think it is also worth mentioning Katy Wix (Mary) and Lolly Adefope (Kitty) who are wonderfully hilarious supporting characters. Their delivery and performance fitted seamlessly in with the other ghostly characters.
Ghosts has an incredibly talented cast, telling a wonderfully dark and humorous story, but for me, I knew this show had something extra special in the third episode, “Happy Death Day”. The plot was focused on Jim Howick’s Scoutmaster Pat, and how his family continue to live and grow old and all he can do is watch. The concept was extremely fascinating and the ‘left turn’ they take in the story was something truly special. There is a moment, at the end of the episode, where I was brought to actual tears. It was carried out in such an emotional and powerful way and it was at that moment I realised the show was much more than a sitcom. This additional layer would also reappear in the remaining episodes. The fact that the show managed to bring me to tears is a testament to the strength of the writing and its performers.
Ghosts is jam-packed full of charm, wit and plenty of dark humour. This talented ensemble cast of writer-performers has managed to turn ghostly hijinx into a mainstream triumph, thanks to richly-written characters and powerful storytelling. With perfectly written jokes and high level of production values, Ghosts is a show that, hopefully, continues to go from strength-to-strength.