TV

Jim Howick on the Message of the Ghosts Finale: ‘We’ll Still Be Family, We’ll Always Still Be Here’


BBC Ghosts co-creator Jim Howick explains the message to fans in the Christmas special. Spoilers!

Jim Howick as Pat in BBC Ghosts
Photo: Monumental, Guido Mandozzi

Warning: contains spoilers for the GHOSTS 2023 Festive Special “A Christmas Gift”

Once upon a time, BBC sitcom Ghosts wanted to scare you. The original thinking for the show according to co-creator Jim Howick, was to make a horror-comedy. Early episodes paid homage to moments in spooky film classics such as the medicine cabinet jump scare in An American Werewolf in London. At the start, the writers indulged themselves with horror tropes, says Howick, the actor behind 1980s Adventure Group leader Pat. “But we realised that as soon as you got to know the ghosts, there was nothing really frightening about them at all. Once you get familiar with the characters, the horror sort of drains away.”

In Ghosts’ fourth festive special “A Christmas Gift”, the horror is back. Mike’s mother Betty (Lorna Gayle) catches sight of an apparition on a baby monitor, and sees a blanket being pulled by an invisible hand over her sleeping grandchild. To a Button House outsider who doesn’t know that it’s Simon Farnaby’s Julian behind the blanket-pull, or that the sinister grey lady is really Martha Howe-Douglas’ clucky fusspot Lady B, “it’s freaky as hell!” agrees Howick.

“We were able to use genuine horror moments for the finale from Betty’s point of view, because she’d never seen the ghosts, and it was the unfamiliar. I think when it’s unfamiliar, that’s when it really works as a scare.”

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