Mathew Baynton interview: ‘Ghosts’ star is ‘really proud’ of the hit comedy

Ghosts is back for a final season!

From the creators and stars of Horrible Histories, the hit comedy series recently returned to BBC One with a fifth run of episodes.

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 continues at 8.30pm on Friday nights on BBC One, and every episode is streaming on BBC iPlayer.

Here, actor and comedian Mathew Baynton (Horrible Histories, Gavin & Stacey, Peep Show) chats about saying goodbye to Thomas, the emotional last day of filming, and why the team chose to end the show now:


Where do we find the characters at the beginning of this season?

“It picks up from where we left off the end of the last series.

“Alison and Mike had decided to make the gate house into a B&B. It was going to be not quite the full dream of a hotel, but something that they could afford to do which would be a stepping-stone towards their ideal of making a living through the house.

“And then the place burned down. They realised that in the process of trying to make it successful, they had put a lot of strain on themselves and their relationship, and it wasn’t a joyful thing anymore.”


So where do Alison and Mike go from here?

“They’re back to square one, but in some ways a little worse off because they don’t even have that dream anymore. So now they’re in a desperate scramble to figure out how to make ends meet and how to find a livelihood that allows them to stay in this place.

“That’s been the backbone of every series; they pivot and find a new plan. But this season feels higher-stakes because they’re not on Plan A now; they’re on Plan J.”


Why do you think the show has chimed with viewers all over the world?

“It’s not by design necessarily because really this show was conceived out of a desire for us all to work together. So, we created something where we could all raid the dressing-up box.

“But we realised early on that we had hit on something. There is something quite rich about the idea of people with very different lives and very different viewpoints being stuck together.

“That felt very contemporary in terms of how heated conversations are between people with different standpoints. If people inhabit a space together, and look in each other’s eyes, they can try their best to maintain a hardness towards each other, but some of that softens and breaks down because we’re all people in the end.

“I think that’s a hopeful message.”


You have had huge success as a group of writer-performers. Have you got plans to do something else together now?

“No, not specifically, but there’s absolutely no way that we won’t work together again.

“We’ve just been working very hard on the Ghosts companion book, which we’re very excited about. So that’s been really fun.

“It’s exciting to think about getting back in a room together, talking, making each other laugh and coming up with ideas about what we might do next.”


Why did you decide to end Ghosts now?

“It’s best to go out at the top while people are still saying, “It’s great”, rather than, “It’s not as good as it used to be,” which can happen with some shows.

“The way I see it, we’re a band who have made this very successful album. I want the last series to be as good as it’s ever been. I want people to miss it and us, and therefore be excited when we come back with something new.

“If you take the easy route of just continuing with a show that people are willing to pay you to keep making and you’ve got very comfortable writing and performing it, you can go on.

“We could probably have gone for seven, nine, eleven, however many more series. But by the time you stop, people haven’t even noticed that you’ve stopped because you’ve just become part of the furniture at that point.

“It’s only when you’re suddenly there in that final week or two you start thinking, “Oh, my God, what have we done?””


Did the emotion of it all really hit you on the final day of filming?

“Absolutely. On the last day, the emotion took me by surprise. I thought, “Hang on, we’ve just got to the end.” I just suddenly found my shoulders going.

“I felt like if I let myself, I could have really sobbed and sobbed, but I took a deep breath and carried on. If we didn’t care that much, there’s no way in hell we could have written something an audience cares about.”


Can you amplify that?

“It was truly emotional. I’ve never played a single character for that long or written a group of characters for that long.

“You become so attached emotionally to these imaginary people, but also to the real people who are the cast and crew around you. You’re thinking, “This has been this has been a privilege and a joy.”

“I’ll carry those joyful memories with me for the rest of my life.”


What do you hope people will be saying to each other at the close of this series?

“I hope they’ll be saying, “I’ll miss them.” Unlike almost any other episode, people have all dreamt or speculated about how it might end.

“So, you hope you’re measuring up against people’s fantasies about how it might finish. And you’re also hoping that you deliver something that surprises and satisfies and gives them more than they imagined.

“I really hope people don’t feel let down by it. I think I’m really proud of it. In fact, I am really proud of it, so I’ll remove the words “I think” from that sentence.

“I hope the audience love it as much as we do.”


Ghosts is available on DVD on Amazon.