UK TV review: Ghosts: Season 4
Sophie Davies | On 30, Sep 2022
“You’ve got a couple of perfect strangers in the servants’ quarters while you, the lady of the house, are running around after them like the maid!” After three seasons of struggling with repairs and renovations at Button House, Alison (Charlotte Ritchie) and Mike (Kiell Smith-Bynoe) have turned the property’s gatehouse into a B&B in their latest attempt to earn some much-needed cash.
Naturally, Lady Button (Martha Howe-Douglas) isn’t keen on the idea of Alison “simpering like a servant” around the paying guests – but she soon perks up when she realises that the more people there are on the grounds, the more people there are for her to snoop on and judge. And so the gatehouse’s first guests spend their anniversary weekend, unbeknownst to them, shadowed by Lady Button and Julian (Simon Farnaby) watching their every move and commenting on the stale state of their marriage.
While Alison and Mike attempt to cheer up their guests, Pat (Jim Howick) does his best to explain the concept of holidays to Mary (Katy Wix), Robin (Laurence Rickard) tries to prove that he knew a caveman whose remains are in the news, and the basement’s plague pit ghosts – making a welcome return after Covid restrictions meant they weren’t in Season 3 – venture upstairs after taking a sudden shine to Thomas (Mat Baynton). The Captain (Ben Willbond) is sceptical of the whole thing, bemused by what Thomas has possibly done to deserve such admiration, while Kitty (Lolly Adefope) seamlessly slips into the role of an agent and organises An Audience With Thomas Thorne for the plague ghosts to get to know their new hero.
Four seasons in and this is the joy of Ghosts: each episode is so jam-packed with jokes and plot that half an hour (or three hours in the case of a whole season) zips by effortlessly. No character or storyline outstays its welcome, so every season finale leaves us desperate for more.
After dipping their toes into the chaotic world of wedding planning in Season 3, Alison and Mike must contend with the challenges that come with running a B&B in Season 4 – from underwhelming online reviews to troublesome neighbour Barclay (Geoff McGivern) becoming a rival and poaching their guests. (“Delicious,” comments Robin.) With all this stress, it stands to reason that the couple’s relationship becomes a little more strained than we’ve seen before. Even when they get a rare day off to relax, nothing seems to go right, and tension eventually comes to a head in an argument over a stuffed bear and whether it does or doesn’t suit the decor.
Camaraderie between the ghosts is also tested this season in Gone Gone, arguably the show’s most heartbreaking episode to date. It’s a touching portrayal of grief and the various forms it can take, with a denouement that will probably move even the most stoic viewer to tears.
As the only two ghosts yet to have flashbacks, it makes sense that Season 4 would give us a glimpse into the pasts of Mary and Robin. We get to see Mary during her earlier years as a ghost, in which the more free-spirited Annie (returning guest star Bridget Christie) encouraged her to come out of her shell, and the season finale treats us to a very bad day in the prehistoric life of Robin. Although every member of the ensemble cast is excellent, Rickard’s chess-playing, The Wire-watching caveman is on particularly scene-stealing form throughout the whole of Season 4.
Four seasons in and with another Christmas special on the way, Ghosts is showing no sign of slowing down or running short of ideas. The ghosts are just as entertaining ever, whether they’re bickering over how to make the perfect cup of tea or working together on a Band Aid-esque apology song for Alison – so despite some big changes occurring this season, here’s hoping there is still plenty more to come from the loveable spectres.