By: Laura Denby
BBC sitcom Ghosts returned for its third series this week, following married couple Alison (Charlotte Ritchie) and Mike (Kiell Smith-Bynoe) who share their large country home with a collection of lively spirits. We have yet to hear news of a fourth season of the hit show but a follow-up isn’t actually necessary. (Spoilers ahead.)
Now certain over Button House’s potential for hosting events, Alison and Mike have things much more under control. Finding that balance provides them with a natural ending after the chaos of coping with a ghostly presence.
Future episodes would therefore have to be much bigger, creating new obstacles for them, and the show just doesn’t need to do so. The comedy delivers its best outing yet in the form of series three, exploring the characters like never before and building to a powerful conclusion that wraps up the show’s narrative in a very satisfying way.
The third series brings about a turning point for Mike, who interacts with the ghosts to an extent he never has before – albeit without actually being able to see or hear them. He is far less spooked this time around and is taken in a new, confident direction that brings the show full circle.
We see him lose patience with Julian (Simon Farnaby), who has great fun childishly messing with Mike’s emails. It makes for hilarious viewing, but now Julian doesn’t have such a fear factor attached, there's only so far his physical abilities can go before the novelty wears off.
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Among the group of ghouls, more pasts are explored. From Kitty’s (Lolly Adefope) uncomfortable memories of her unkind sister, to Humphrey’s (Laurence Rickard) accidental death after uncovering a plot of treason, Ghosts puts to rest every remaining demon and explains every mystery, leaving less room for organic drama going forward.
Subplots like Fanny’s (Martha Howe-Douglas) secret relationship with Humphrey’s headless body (played by Yani Xander) prove the show can still surprise us. This is also the case with Mike’s work-from-home attire, which mirrored the lifestyle of the nation in the past year-and-a-half by lacking in the trouser department. Yet these moments work so well because of their unpredictable nature – and there’s a risk of replicating old scenarios to outdo previous brilliance.
Another unexpected twist touches on an issue faced in today’s society, with a scam involving a woman claiming to be Alison’s half-sister. The storyline is well executed and adds to the idea of a clear-cut ending, leaving no question unanswered.
This is because the plot doubles as a way of delving into Alison’s bloodline and, not only is it resolved swiftly and decisively, it provides the ultimate, uplifting message too. The gang’s assistance in exposing the fraudulent Lucy (Jessica Knappett) leads Alison to accept that, living or not, they are all the family she will ever need.
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This is a show that doesn’t deal in cliffhangers anyway, but in its neatly tied-up conclusion, season three presents the perfect farewell. As Alison and Mike join the ghosts at the dinner table, their companionship makes for a fitting goodbye – particularly as it shows a transition from earlier in the series when Alison was still reluctant to call the group her friends.
Stars and co-creators Laurence Rickard and Mathew Baynton (who plays Thomas Thorne) recently explained to RadioTimes.com and other press that the team do have ideas in mind for a fourth series of Ghosts. There’s no doubt we’ll always crave more from this show, but it does risk losing its edge by continuing after a season as strong as this. It’s important to note that, if Ghosts doesn't return, it's already given us a rich and complete story with a beginning, middle and end.
The characters are finally happy and settled and, as much as we would love to welcome them back, it feels like the team’s work here is done. The journey undertaken by Alison, Mike and company was what made this show such a televisual feast. That journey is effectively over now they have found contentment – unconventional as it is!
An action-packed blend of laughs and cultural references with a heartwarming bond running through it, Ghosts has been a delight to watch. It has truly peaked with its third instalment and that’s why it’s the right time to close the door.
Ghosts series 3 continues Monday at 8.30pm on BBC One and the full series is available to stream on iPlayer now. If you're looking for more to watch, check out our TV Guide.