The Christmas Special of Ghosts is a stunning send-off to an excellent comedy series.
And out of nowhere, it drifted away: the end of one of the greatest British comedies of the century, wrapped up with a Christmas special so effortlessly charming it almost felt like it wasn’t even there. Ghosts, with its heartwarming and compassionate tone until the very end, has gracefully bid its farewell.
In the most recent and final season earlier this year, Alison and Mike (played by Charlotte Ritchie and Kiell Smith-Bynoe) were getting ready to become parents, with the help of the unpredictable spirits who reside in their old, rundown mansion. The couple received an offer from investors to purchase the dilapidated house and transform it into a country club. Despite being able to communicate with the ghosts, Alison and Mike decided to reject the tempting offer and stay in their beloved home – although we had a feeling that this wouldn’t last, especially with one more episode left to air.
We arrive back at Button House at the perfect moment to greet Alison and Mike, who have just returned from the hospital with their new baby Mia. However, they are accompanied by an uninvited guest, Mike’s mother Betty (played by Sutara Gayle), who insists on staying for a few days to help out. However, seven weeks later, Christmas is approaching and Betty is still there, interfering in every aspect of Mia’s care. This irritates the ghostly Fanny (played by Martha Howe-Douglas), who believes it is her responsibility to take care of the manor and its inhabitants.
Several of the living dead are feeling uneasy. Robin, known as the caveman (played by Laurence Rickard), is struggling to find his usual holiday cheer. Meanwhile, the Captain (played by Ben Willbond) wants to use the fact that babies can see ghosts to his advantage by speaking to Mia in baby talk, but his wartime language doesn’t quite fit. As usual, the funniest moments come from Thomas (played by Mathew Baynton), a melancholic poet from the Regency era who selflessly puts aside his love for Alison, even though she does not return his feelings. He urges her to control her desires and stay faithful to her new family, reminding her to think of the child.
Betty comes up with a whimsical notion, becoming convinced that there are ghosts haunting the building. It turns out she is right, as she witnessed an object moving and it was actually the mischievous 80s politician Julian (played by Simon Farnaby) who can manipulate objects. Now, the living and the dead must team up to trick Betty into thinking she was wrong and bring harmony back to the house.
In short, that’s the gist of it. This year’s Christmas special lacks the emotional punch of the previous one, where Pat, the quirky scout leader, learns posthumously about his family’s love and respect through an old VHS tape. It’s a storyline that is difficult to think about without getting teary-eyed. There are no extravagant holiday scenes or major Christmas performances. The final episode of Ghosts is almost too uneventful.
However, Ghosts has reached a new level of excellence in the world of sitcoms. The fifth season served as a lengthy farewell, tying up loose ends for the deceased characters such as the Captain, Kitty, and Sir Humphrey Bone. The show’s writers, including Baynton, Howick, Farnaby, Howe-Douglas, Rickard, and Willbond, have always displayed a clever understanding of their creation, skillfully balancing between crude and sentimental, chaotic and calm. They have also realized that although sitcoms can hypothetically continue indefinitely, those with emotional depth must continuously develop their characters. The point at which these imaginary friends have been fully developed is both bittersweet and the end of their journey.
The last episode of the show is usually more clever and edgy than it appears. The main storyline of getting rid of an irritating grandmother is a relatable and slightly bold commentary on the joys and challenges of Christmas gatherings with family. However, it also seamlessly leads to the perfectly executed final scenes, which are a hallmark of a timeless sitcom. These scenes reveal that the silly characters who have made us laugh countless times are actually well-developed and empathetic individuals who were never as foolish as they appeared.
Allowing the comical, animated ghosts to have control over the outcome of Ghosts is another skillful artistic choice, a pleasant twist that is completely logical. It is not unexpected that a show centered around the themes of existence, mortality, memory, and rebirth would handle its own ending with such grace. Now that its purpose has been fulfilled, Ghosts is prepared to move on. We will fondly remember it.