Ghosts Series 2 | TV preview by Steve Bennett © Monumental Television
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Ghosts Series 2

TV preview by Steve Bennett

It’s been more than a year since Ghosts were on our screens - but it seems like they have never been away, such is the way these spooks from down the ages already feel so familiar.

That’s the strength of the erstwhile Horrible Histories ensemble, to make the viewer want to spend time from everyone from a monosyllabic caveman to a venal Tory MP. Given the sheer number of characters, each only gets a few minutes of air time each episode, but they always make it count. 

We pick up with the human inhabitants of Button Hall, Alison and Mike (Charlotte Ritchie and Kiell Smith-Bynoe), struggling for ideas for how to make their crumbling inheritance pay its own way. 

And they get an idea when the spectral figure of Lady Button (Martha Howe-Douglas) appears hazily on a photograph and the country pile starts attracting the attention of parapsychologists, including one played by scene-stealing Colin Hoult. But for all their gadgetry, they pick up no signals from the spirits, who refuse to play ball lest their home become overrun with curious visitors.

Not that you need pay much heed to the plot, the joy is in hanging out with these eclectic characters, from wet Romantic poet Thomas (Mathew Baynton) and eager-to-please Georgian noblewoman Kitty – both of whom are bestotted with Alison in their own way – to  mild-mannered witch Mary (Katy Wix), from cheery scoutmaster Pat (Jim Howick) to stiff-upper-lip army officer The Captain (Ben Willbond). 

And joy is the word, as Ghosts is a show that aims for the light and cheery, and consistently hits it. This bunch of characters might have all met grisly deaths, and have widely different views on the world based on the mores of their own time, but they know they have to get on and be a community if they are to be bound together in eternity. There’s a thinly disguised message in there somewhere.

This all fits the prime-time near-family-friendly slot – some sniggerworthy references to Lady Button being called ‘Fanny’ the only real nod to an older, if hardly more mature, audience. 

Yet the humour never feels restricted by needing a wide appeal and there’s a fair share great lines, beautifully delivered. Episode one’s choice moments include politician Julian (Simon Farnaby) poo-poohing the very notion of ghosts, despite being one himself, and Wix’s Mary trying to make herself unobtrusive.

Ghosts may offer simple pleasures, but pleasure is what it undoubtedly delivers in its charming, witty way. It’s great to have them back at their old haunt.

• Ghosts returns to BBC One at 8.30pm tonight.

Review date: 21 Sep 2020
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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