Ghosts is returning for another Christmas special – British Comedy Guide
ExclusiveWednesday 26th October 2022, 3:12pm by Jay Richardson
Ghosts is returning for a third Christmas special, the cast have revealed.
Written by Jim Howick and Mathew Baynton, the latest festive instalment of the BBC One sitcom is “a great Christmas special”, fellow series creator Laurence Rickard told Gaby Roslin on her podcast.
Martha Howe-Douglas, who also writes the hit show with Rickard, Ben Willbond and Simon Farnaby, and who stars alongside them with Charlotte Ritchie, Kiell Smith-Bynoe, Lolly Adefope and Katy Wix, told Roslin that it is her “favourite” episode, calling it “absolutely wonderful”.
British Comedy Guide understands that the episode will focus on a festive trip down memory lane that prompts Pat (Howick) to question his very identity, while the Ghosts come up with a surprise Christmas present for Alison (Ritchie) after her family lunch does not go to plan.
Episode 6 of the fourth series airs on Friday and the Christmas special follows similar festive instalments that followed the second series in 2020 and the third series last year.
Baynton had already dismissed the idea of Ghosts pastiching Charles Dickens‘s A Christmas Carol, because Blackadder did it as far back as 1988.
“There’s a different challenge as well – on top of the challenges of our own show and not repeating ourselves is that you’ve got all of the Christmas specials in the history of sitcom in the background of your mind” he told the Edinburgh Television Festival in August.
“So there’s ideas we’ve had before where we’ve said, ‘You’re not going to top Blackadder doing A Christmas Carol, let’s not go near A Christmas Carol‘. For the first Christmas special, it was the very first idea we had and dismissed.
“It was like, ‘Our show is called Ghosts – if anyone is ever going to do a thing with the Ghost of Christmas Past and so on…’ But it’s like, Blackadder nailed it, don’t go near it.”
Elsewhere in the Roslin interview, Baynton said that he hoped his upcoming cameo in the final episode of Series 2 of the US adaptation of Ghosts will lead to further crossovers between the two versions.
In the episode Dumb Deaths, airing on 10th November in the States – and shortly in the UK, according to reports that the BBC is planning to broadcast the remake – Baynton plays a method actor, Actor Pete, who gets obsessed with “getting to the truth” of the death of arrow-necked Scout master Pete Martino (played by Richie Moriarty, counterpart to Howick’s Pat in the UK version), when he is hired by the TV show Dumb Deaths to recreate Pete’s demise.
Of his “little guest role”, Baynton said that it was “very sweet” of the American producers to invite him to appear. “I hope that more of us will get the invitation to go out and play.”
He also revealed the specific issues with the Ofcom Broadcasting Code that saw Ghosts, conceived as a pre-watershed show for family viewing, eventually going out after 9pm.
“I think it was seeing the stump of Henry’s neck, that Lady Button jumps out of the window and that [his poet character] Thomas says ‘I’m going to drown myself in the lake’.
“There were a number of things where compliance came back and said these are ‘imitable behaviour’. Someone might go, ‘oh, I’ll try that!’ It wasn’t designed to be post-watershed but there were these reasons why it had to be, that were so eleventh hour that we couldn’t have re-written the show to accommodate them.
“But I think when it went out, it was then really clear in context, none of those things were problematic, it’s all clear in the context of the conceit that they’re ghosts. When Thomas says ‘I’m going to drown myself in the lake’, it’s clear that that’s funny because he can’t because he’s a ghost.”
The creators also confirmed to Roslin that they want to make further series, with Baynton adding that they’d “fallen in love” with their characters: “they’re real to us”.
And having made the 2015 Shakespeare comedy film Bill, after collaborating together on the television series Horrible Histories and Yonderland, when the presenter asked if they could adapt Ghosts for the big screen, Willbond demurred because of the cost, but Baynton was keener. “If anyone’s got a spare £10mill knocking about …” he suggested.
Rickard confirmed: “We’re always looking at other stuff to do and whether that would be live or features or other …” before Baynton once again interjected, “the answer is yes, we’d love to!”
Elsewhere in the Roslin chat, Willbond and Rickard confirmed that their forthcoming, feature-length sci-fi comedy special We Are Not Alone, airing on Dave next month, is a pilot and that they’re hoping the channel will pick it up for a series.
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