REVIEWED: SEASON 1 (EPISODES 1-3) | WHERE TO WATCH: BBC iPLAYER
From the people behind Horrible Histories and Yonderland, Ghosts has a very straightforward premise; a bunch of ghosts from different time periods have their peace disturbed by the threat of the stately home they haunt being turned into a hotel. From that starting point, we get to laugh at the clowning antics of the spirits as they go about scaring the developers away. Simple, right? And a font for tragicomedy. But what if the developers are nice? What if they were just hapless millennials who inherited the stately home and have had to get themselves into massive debt to finance the renovations? And what if one of them can see and hear the ghosts…?
Ghosts has a very big heart. Most of the spectres are sympathetic – with those that aren’t being terrible people, even after death – and Charlotte Ritchie (Fresh Meat, Doctor Who, and Dead Pixels) is sweet and funny as Alison, the heir of Button Hall and the one who can see the ghosts. Kiell-Smith Bynoe, as her boyfriend Mike, is delightfully dippy, but the real stars are the Horrible Histories gang, who seem to be having the time of their deaths. Simon Farnaby is wickedly funny as a disgraced Tory politician, spending eternity with no trousers on, but the standout is Laurence Rickard’s Robin, a pre-historic caveman with a sensitive ear for the modern day.
Inheriting the Monday night slot on BBC One previously occupied by This Time With Alan Partridge, and with the decade-long Not Going Out as its lead-in, ratings have been strong, with over four million viewers tuning in for the opening salvo. Genre comedies are becoming more common, but it’s still heartening to see such a mainstream slot being given over to supernatural fare, and hopefully Ghosts’ warm humour will see more STARBURST-troubling shows soaking up the license fee.