Forced to choose under pain of neck-arrow, what would your favourite Ghosts episode be? The one with Pat’s death day? The Christmas panto ep? The Captain’s story finally told in “Carpe Diem”? Or the one where, in under half an hour, a bunch of comedy characters in silly costumes deliver the most emotionally insightful and instructive reflection on grief perhaps ever shown on TV? We nominated some corkers here, but they barely scratch the surface of this delightful, warm comedy.

Let’s leave it to the experts then. As told to Nathan Bryon on the BBC Sounds podcast Inside… Ghosts, here’s what the show’s creators and stars rate as their personal faves, now that the show is over. From Ben Willbond, Jim Howick, Mat Baynton, Larry Rickard, Martha Howe-Douglas, Kiell Smith-Bynoe and Charlotte Ritchie, here are their personal picks of the BBC show’s best episodes and the cast’s fondest filming memories.

Ben Willbond: Redding Weddy

(Series 2, Episode 3. Writers: Ben Willbond and Simon Farnaby)

In “Redding Weddy”, Mike and Alison rush to prepare Button House and the grounds for a last-minute wedding booking, and inadvertently explode the Captain’s buried experimental WWII limpet mine – teased as instead being a secret about his love life. It was the first appearance of Havers, a key flashback character who returned in the Captain’s death story episode “Carpe Diem”.

This was the first episode, Willbond told Inside…Ghosts, that the creators realised the ghosts’ backstories had real emotional potential. He and Farnaby enjoyed hoodwinking the audience by teasing that they were going to reveal a huge secret about the Captain’s love life, but instead wrongfooting them at the last minute with the “explosive” buried secret being literally and not figuratively so. (The idea of burying something unstable and dangerous came from a story Ben Willbond’s father told him about having to bury bottles of homemade rhubarb wine that kept over-fermenting and exploding.)

“I think then [“Redding Weddy”] sparked the thought of how all this is going to end. I had an inkling that it had to be about a broken heart, that’s how it had to end for the Captain, I’m afraid.”

Jim Howick: The Woodworm Men

(Series 3, Episode 3. Writers: Jim Howick and Mathew Baynton)

Come series three, it was a natural step in sitcom-land says Jim Howick, to take the characters on holiday. But because the ghosts can’t leave the grounds of Button House, that holiday took the form of a night camping in the garden while the house was being sprayed for woodworm.

The premise appealed to adventure group leader Pat, of course, but also to the cast, says Howick. As the episode was filmed sequentially, “It felt like [they] were actually camping that day!”. For the interior scenes, the tent was erected inside the ballroom of West Horsley Place (which stands in for Button House in the show), and the cast lay down in the dark “like we were having a slumber party” adds co-writer Mat Baynton. Due to Covid restrictions while filming series three, only two actors were allowed inside the tent at any one time, so when it was shot, the others were positioned outside the tent reading in their lines.

Howick – who also named 2022’s panto-themed Christmas special “It’s Behind You” as a favourite – loves how well each of the characters is served in “The Woodworm Men”:

“We’re corrupting Kitty’s innocence by changing the channel so she thinks she’s watching Grease but she’s watching Nightmare on Elm Street. We undermine the two outgoing bravado characters in the group in Robin and Julian – those two are the muscle, really, and we make them scaredy cats to an extreme degree. We put in some Blair Witch tropes. […] it’s a great episode with Thomas because it validates the fact that he grabs hold of things too tightly and we hear a bit about his back story and him searching for inspiration on his grand tour, but not being able to… articulate the inspiration that’s in front of him. However, when he is inspired and not forced into a performative gesture, he can do it.”

Matthew Baynton: Perfect Day

(Series 2, Episode 6. Writer: Mathew Baynton & Jim Howick)

Series two finale “Perfect Day” was the culmination of that series’ wedding thread. It’s finally time for Button House to host Sam and Claire’s big day, but a snow blizzard and the appearance of the man who’d accidentally killed Pat with an arrow as a child threatens to derail the whole thing.

Episode co-writer Mat Baynton loves what he describes as the “Shakespearean or farce-y element to it” where Mike overhears Alison telling one of the brides about her own wedding day jitters and misinterprets what she says. He also loves Lady Button overcoming her initial shock at the lesbian wedding to realise that her and her gay husband’s lives would have been vastly improved if he had been able to be honest about his sexual identity. “It almost felt like I was having a conversation with my own homophobic Grandmother,” says Baynton.

A comedic high point for Baynton is the physical fight between the ghosts:

“That was the moment where it was like ‘Oh! Now it’s all there!’ That moment was really fun, the idea that they’ve never had a fight before and they realise that they can beat the crap out of each other because they’re ghosts, they can just keep recovering and resetting, so they can hit each other as hard as they like. Such a breakthrough. Really fun [to film], Katy [Wix] was so funny in that sequence as well, going nuts. She’s the most extremely violent of the bunch in that moment. She headbutts the Captain!”

Larry Rickard: Something to Share?

(Series 3, Episode 5. Writers: Mathew Baynton & Jim Howick)

In series three’s “Something to Share?”, Button House is being used by the various groups of a community centre, including a support group which inspires Alison to help the ghosts therapeutically share their own stories. It features a different kind of ghost flashback from Kitty’s POV in which her sister, father and servants are played by members of the Ghosts cast.

Rickard told Inside…Ghosts that he loves the episode because it really makes use of the fact that the ghosts are from different historical periods:

“I’ve always liked the episodes where you get to focus on the stark difference in opinions or outlooks between now and various eras of the ghosts and I think that one was particularly distilled because you’ve got Alison as a Millennial and the difference just between her and Julian, where there’s only those few years difference, is so big, let alone her and the Captain or her and Robin.”

Rickard’s standout memory from making the episode is the support group scene:

“I loved Julian’s realisation that he’s been a bit drunk for 40 years, and hearing everyone’s dreams, getting to the point where there’s almost a confession from the Captain but they never quite get it. Even Robin gets a tiny one when, after all of Thomas’ complaints, he gets to point out the fact that he watched most of his family being eaten. A lot of real fun in it and also some sort of darkness.”

Martha Howe-Douglas: Bump in the Night

(Series 2, Episode 5. Writers: Martha Howe-Douglas & Larry Rickard)

Bump in the Night” involves Mike and the ghosts having to defend Button House from burglars, despite him not being able to see or hear them. Martha Howe-Douglas describes it to Inside…Ghosts as “an all-round fun caper of an episode” in which everybody has a lot of fun stuff to do.

“It’s a fun, fun thing. There’s Kitty, Mary and Lady Button who are watching the burglary happen and the boys are all trying to stop the burglary happening by alerting Mike, which is very hard because it’s impossible. Lady Button has a lovely moment in here where, because of her need to do things properly, she starts off being absolutely horrified by the burglary and then she has this weird twist where she wants the burglary to be done right – if you’re going to do it, you need to do it properly! So she’s almost instructing them on which pieces to take and which to leave behind and then she has this moment at the end where she’s like ‘what the hell has happened to me’ and snaps out of it.”

Howe-Douglas found the other cast members extremely entertaining in the episode, from Katy Wix’s repeated use of the word “cups” when Lady B and Mary are trying to list the inventory of stolen goods, to Julian singing “I’ll Make Love to You” accompanied by some “ridiculous dancing, which kills me every time,” she told the podcast.

Kiell Smith-Bynoe: The Ghost of Christmas

(Writers: Ben Willbond & Simon Farnaby)

In 2020 festive special “The Ghost of Christmas”, Mike’s family descend on Button House and interfere with his hosting plans, resulting in a Christmas meltdown. Meanwhile, the presence of Mike’s baby niece prompts Julian to reflect on his (lack of) parenting when alive and how he neglected his family in Christmases past.

Smith-Bynoe told Inside…Ghosts that he enjoyed how details about his own family were woven into the episode by its writers. He remembers Ben Willbond phoning him to ask about his own Christmases and mentioning having roast beef instead of turkey and being the only boy among a group of girl cousins. “I guess that fed in to the casting of him having two sisters. Like real life!”

Smith-Bynoe’s favourite moment filming was the chainsaw scene that took the crew out of the house and into the woods, where “everybody was in a really fun, dizzy mood”. Podcast host and Obi actor Nathan Bryon commented that the episode was one of the first times he’d seen a Black family celebrating a regular, non-EastEnders tragedy-tinged Christmas on BBC One, which felt important and special, as well as the episode being very funny.

Ben Willbond describes “The Ghost of Christmas” as a turning point for the show:

“I think it’s the first time we started to think about the real heart of Ghosts, being about family. For me anyway, that was where the potential for Ghosts and all the future episodes and the heart of it lay. I loved creating that episode because it does have so much heart.” 

Charlotte Ritchie: Free Pass

(Series 1, Episode 4. Writers: Mathew Baynton & Jim Howick)

In “Free Pass”, Alison and Mike hire out Button House as a filming location for a period drama and the ghosts try to sabotage the production before the house does their work for them when a floor collapses. Charlotte Ritchie picked it as a favourite, she told Inside…Ghosts, because it was the first week of filming on Ghosts:

“It’s an excellent episode anyway and it was amazing because it was our first run-in to the whole thing. It was jam-packed with all the very ghost-y things like Thomas speaking over the living people and Alison having to juggle that, and Mary working out what the wires are – she thinks the camera’s a cow! She thinks they’re tiny mini people.”

The chaos of it appealed to Ritchie, with two sets of everything – one real, one fictional – from the camera crews to the cast to hair and make-up artists, required for the plot. “It was our very first week and we’d only just met everyone and there were two of everyone […] it was such a kind of hectic first week because everything that the show is was all happening right from the very beginning.”

Ritchie’s favourite moment was the scene in which the floor collapses: “I had such a strong feeling of everyone being there and almost genuinely too many people for the actual room itself.

The idea of putting a TV episode inside another TV episode was inspired by Mat Baynton’s role in ITV’s Vanity Fair, which had filmed at West Horsley Place in 2018.

Ghosts series one to five are streaming on BBC iPlayer in the UK. Season three of the US version arrives on CBS in the US on February 15.

The post BBC Ghosts Stars Name Their Favourite Episodes appeared first on Den of Geek.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.