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Tower and Town, December 2023

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Arts Review

A little amuse-bouche to see us through the cold (wet and windy) nights.

Autumn is gold and coppery, chilling and wistful. Autumn can be sad, lonely and perhaps even daunting, as the knowingness of winter creeps in. The seasons are changing and with it, we find ourselves embroiled in all sorts of different emotions. There are things to help and aid with this, such as having something fun and entertaining to look forward to, and re-watch, on the television.

I always find phrases such as, ‘Sunday night viewing’ rather nostalgic. It sounds reassuring, familiar. It’s the phrase that draws the weekend to a grand finale. Of course, with catch up services such as IPlayer and ITVX for example, this weekend routine can be accessed any time, and therefore broken. (In a good way!) We have Strictly Come Dancing for our fix of glitter, entertainment, incredible professional dancing and Claudia Winkelman’s fringe. BUT, the programme that, I would argue, is exactly what we all need, during the long winter nights, is Ghosts.

Ghosts is a BBC drama written, starring and created by the immensely popular and recognisable cast of Horrible Histories. (Mathew Baynton, Simon Farnaby, Martha Howe-Douglas, Jim Howick, Laurence Rickard and Ben Willbond). It is, as Debby and I have discussed many times, a kid’s programme for adults. Without giving too much away, (because if you haven’t seen it, stop reading this article and watch series 1 episode 1), Ghosts follows the life of a young, modern day married couple called Alison and Mike (Charlotte Ritchie and Kiell Smith-Bynoe). Alison has been left by her recently deceased relative, an (almost) derelict stately home called Button House. Button House is haunted by a troop of ghosts who, in some way or other, also met their fate in this rather grand setting. They range from a caveman called Robin, a 1980s Scout instructor called Pat, and a disgraced Tory politician who wears a jacket, shirt and tie, shoes and sock suspenders, but no trousers…

Following a near-fatal accident, it is only Alison who can see, hear and interact with the ghosts. This, accurately described ‘smash-hit comedy,’ is devilishly funny, immensely sweet and totally bonkers. AND, even though death is a central theme, it’s not actually all about mortality! It is about life and living, friendship, togetherness, being present, making the most of everything and believing in love. Ghosts is a stylised melting pot of historical costumes, characterisations and, above all, humour and humility. It has just entered its fifth and final series, and if last year’s Christmas Special was anything to go by, this year’s should also be a joyous weepy too.

So, if you don’t know what to watch this autumn/winter, give Ghosts a go. It’s a real gem.

Gabriella Venus

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