‘Ghosts’ star Charlotte Ritchie on saying goodbye: ‘I really love them’

Ghosts is back for a final season this autumn!

From the creators and stars of Horrible Histories, the hit comedy series returns to BBC One for a fifth run of episodes next month.

Season 5 finds Alison and Mike searching for new ways to keep Button House going after the gatehouse fire, as they receive some unexpected news that will bring about major changes for them and the Ghosts.

Elsewhere, the Ghosts investigate the mysterious details of Kitty’s death, Pat is inspired to create some new entertainment for the gang when the Ghosts lose their appetite for Food Club, and after Robin makes an outlandish prediction, the Ghosts contemplate their legacies.

Watch the trailer here:

The final season of Ghosts begins at 8.30pm on Friday 6 October on BBC One, and streaming on BBC iPlayer.

Here, Grantchester and Call the Midwife star Charlotte Ritchie discusses how similar she is to Alison, saying goodbye to the cast, and why it’s the right time for the show to end:


Alison is a lovely character. What are her best qualities, do you think?

“Her strengths have always been that she’s really resilient and very front-footed. She also seems to make the best of what she’s got.

“I think she really perseveres, and she sticks with things. My only criticism would be that I think sometimes she indulges the ghosts too much!”


That would certainly be Mike’s criticism as well, wouldn’t it?

“Yes. If this was a very gritty drama, their relationship would be really on the rocks. He’s unbelievably patient. But she’s very kind. She is a lovely character to play.”


Do you and Alison have a lot in common?

“Yes. I find it actually hard to talk about Alison because in some ways I just feel really similar to her.

“I don’t live with any ghosts or anything like that, but I have a lot in common with her. It feels quite natural.

“I worked with someone recently, and when their kids met me, they were like, “Oh, she is Alison” – which is a real compliment.”


What are the particular similarities between you and Alison?

“Our mannerisms. I don’t feel like I’m playing a character. I feel like I’m just reacting truthfully a lot of the time.

“Obviously, it’s exaggerated and I’m pushing it for certain effects, but she feels very human, despite being in a kind of cartoony world. I think that’s lovely that they’ve done that.

“She’s the straight person or the foil or whatever. But that means she also has emotional beats and real-life stuff to deal with.”


What is the arc for Alison in this season?

“It’s a pretty big arc. She takes a new step into a different phase of her life with Mike.

“It’s the end of an era as there’s more responsibility involved. When something more serious happens to the two of them, that strangely sheds a light on the life that they’ve been living with the ghosts.

“It slightly exposes how unsustainable it is. They were going from day to day thinking about how to get the next bit of money to continue to live there.

“Then suddenly that changes and they have to look a lot more long-term for the first time. Playtime is over basically.”


Why you think the show has done so well all over the world?

“It’s very nicely tailored to everybody’s specific history. Also, of course, it’s still a comedy, and it’s not trying to be anything more than that.

“But Ghosts is an antidote to the polarisation of the real world. It’s an example of living alongside people that you don’t agree with, and don’t necessarily always love having to interact with.

“That is just how the world is. Unfortunately, it’s the case that people really feel differently about things.

Ghosts is a nice contained and safe example; no one has anything to lose by watching it. But you just see this nice little metaphor for different people living amongst each other and learning from each other.”


Can you give us an example?

“Lady Button living with Alison. They couldn’t be more different, but there is such a tenderness in the way that Lady Button comes round and loves Alison, despite the fact that she represents everything that Lady Button thinks is awful.

“It’s just nice. They have all sorts of clashes, but they have to get on with it. They have no choice. There is no exit route.

“They have to sit and talk. I think it’s very cool. That must be good for lots of different cultures to explore.”


How did you react to the end of Ghosts?

“Basically, I was really emotional for the whole three weeks leading up to the end. It wasn’t really the last day that did it to me – by then I think I’d pre-grieved!

“I think that phrase is from Succession, but I’m sure I coined it first! In some ways, it’s cathartic to say, “OK, that’s it. That’s the end of the chapter.” Strangely, you get used to that in this job.

“There are so many goodbyes that we have to see them as a good thing because otherwise, it’s just too sad all the time.”


Do you think it was the right moment to end it?

“Yes, I do. I think the writers are really smart. They knew that it was the right choice.

“I think we just were just getting to the point where everyone was very comfy in their parts, and it was just the right point to finish. A lot of the feedback I’ve got from people has been that they think it’s cool to quit while you’re ahead.”


Why do you think the writers work so well together?

“Because they have very similar senses of humour, but also different leanings. I don’t think they’re egotistical people.

“They are real team players, and that really shines through. That means everyone gets their moment and they can compromise and collaborate. I’m always impressed by that.

“They are such good friends. I think that’s a big part of it. They have such respect for each other.”


Will you miss the team?

“Absolutely. We’ve got such a strong bond. Actually, I really love them. They’re great.

“They’ve become such close and good friends. It’s a very unusual thing to get on with everyone for that long. They’re so generous and funny and kind.

“When you spend enough time doing a job like that, it just sets the bar for what you want to establish on other jobs and what to expect. They set a great example. It’s been such a pleasure.”


Ghosts is available on DVD on Amazon.