This review is spoiler-free.
Ghosts – Written by and starring Mathew Baynton, Simon Farnaby, Martha Howe-Douglas, Jim Howick, Laurence Rickard and Ben Willbond.
The Ghosts are back!
I think I mentioned in our Series One review, that I am a huge fan of this ensemble. From the comforting Horrible Histories to the genius of Yonderland, this team are not only very talented performers, but they are also incredible writers. That is why the first series was such a success! It was a comedy, but it had moments of real emotion too. The way they manage to pull the rug from under you, all while having a great time doing it made the show what it was, pure entertainment.
With the premise and format soundly established in the first series, series 2 allows the creators to really explore and focus on fun, one-off stories and delve deep into certain character’s backgrounds. We finally get to find out how some of the ghosts met their ends, some with comical and some with tragic origins. This freedom to build on the established lore really helps the pacing of the entire second series.
Once again the team manage to blend together a delicious mix of goofy, but intelligent, comedy with real punchy moments of sadness and reflection. The viewer’s journey within each episode takes you on a roller-coaster of emotions, where you could spend the entirety of the episode laughing at warm, wholesome comedy but out of nowhere, a moment or incident will occur that shifts the tone completely. It is a testament of the creators writing prowess that they are able to deliver this every time, and even when you expect it, the subtle threads setup within each episode makes for powerful and memorable moments. It’s rare that a show can make you laugh one minute, and then be brought to tears the next.
The performances from the entire cast, both main and supporting, are once again phenomenal. The Ghosts all feel part of your extended family, a crazy mix of characters who, despite their flaws, are very much loved. I never like singling out characters, as they are all brilliant, but in terms of this season’s big emotional plot points, Ben Willbond and Mathew Baynton have some very powerful moments. In terms of the absurdity, Katy Wix (Mary) is once again a scene-stealer with her outrageous line delivery and deadpan expressions.
Charlotte Ritchie (Alison) is back and has the unenviable task of dealing with the chaos and absurdities of the ghostly inhabitants of Button House, however this time there is a lot more acceptance and integration. I liked this approach. Now, I want to give a special shout out to Kiell Smith-Bynoe (Mike). I don’t know if it because I can really relate to him as a character or if its Kiell’s fantastic performance, but I was so happy that he featured a lot more in the ‘meat’ of the stories including taking centre stage in a Mike-centric episode, which featured a brilliant concept and made it one of my favourites of the series.
Under the direction of Tom Kingsley, aided by a very talented crew, the show is able to produce high levels of production, in spite of the show’s modest budget. The ingenuity and creative techniques used in the show’s production are a testament to the skills of those on the other side of the camera.
I know I said this in my Series One review, but the main reason I love this show is how they blend great humour with very real and powerful emotional moments. While the first series had this format nailed, I just feel with the shackles of establishing the world and characters off, they really allowed their imaginations and creativity to go wild. This freedom is very noticeable throughout the series. They don’t re-tread old ground, the show has subtly evolved, and it is this freshness that will continue to aid in the show’s longevity.
On a final note, I think this show is very important in regards to LGBTQ+ issues. This is a prime time show on the BBC and representation matters! The way they handle these moments, be it involving a specific character or an entire episode arc, has set the benchmark for others to hopefully follow.
The Ghosts will be back in December for a Christmas Special, and all being well, Series 3 is due out at the end of 2021. We cannot wait!