Ghosts’ Larry Rickard Explains the Show’s Strict “Fanny Rule”

It’s not a button they let themselves press too often.

Martha Howe-Douglas as Lady Stephanie 'Fanny' Button in Ghosts
Photo: BBC

Warning: contains plot details for Ghosts series five episode two “Home”, and smut.

BBC One’s Ghosts is one of the few TV shows around that has successfully blurred the line between adult and child viewing. Kids love it, adults love it, and it’s long been appointment viewing for families doing that (almost miraculous in 2023) thing of gathering together around the same screen.

Making Ghosts’ comedy suitable for a mixed-age audience though, means keeping an eye on its adult content. The ruder gags need to be blink-and-you’ll-miss-them and cheeky, but never crass. The sordid circumstances of Julian’s 1990s Tory MP sex scandal death for instance, or Lady Button’s husband’s “Moroccan tea party” with two members of his household staff, are alluded to but never made explicit. The same goes for caveman Robin’s romantic exploits over the centuries, and his (cough) close relationship with his sister. It’s all hint and suggestion about which nobody could ever complain.

The Ghosts team work hard to maintain that family-friendly tone while, it’s fair to say, getting away with an awful bloody lot. The name of Martha Howe-Douglas’ character “Fanny Button” as one example, has served the show well.


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