Where is Ghosts filmed? BBC One sitcom locations
West Horsley Place has just as much character as the ghosts themselves.
Ghosts is finally back for season 4, where haunted homeowners Alison and Mike have come up with a new idea for monetising their grand – but dilapidated – countryside estate: Airbnb!
They decide to become hosts on the popular website, but immediately start fretting that their best efforts at creating an idyllic holiday home won't be enough to secure that all-important five-star rating.
Their guests are kept away from the chaos of the main building with a cosy new gate house on the grounds, the interiors of which were actually created inside one of the many rooms in the enormous West Horsley Place.
"It was just so exciting to have a new set, because we're so used to all of the same places," star Charlotte Ritchie told RadioTimes.com. "It felt like going away for us, so that was really fun."
Indeed, the Ghosts cast rarely leave West Horsley Place during filming as the plot generally doesn't demand it, given that the paranormal characters on the show are eternally bound to the Button House premises.
This proved particularly convenient during the pandemic, when most television shows were restricted in how far they could travel during a shoot, although there were still complications stemming from the sheer number of actors involved.
Ghosts chronicles how young couple Alison (Ritchie) and Mike (Kiell Smith-Bynoe) share a huge ancestral home with a group of fussy ghouls, while also attempting to renovate the dilapidated property.
It may surprise some to learn that the house is similar in real-life to how it appears in the series, something RadioTimes.com saw first-hand when we visited the set two seasons ago.
Producer Matthew Mulot showed us around the huge house, which becomes a bustling hive of activity as the crew behind Ghosts prepares for a shoot.
The team arrives six weeks before filming starts to begin ageing down the property and moving in props, although some scenes do retain the manor's original items.
The most valuable have been sold by Bamber and Christina Gascoigne to raise vital funds for the West Horsley Place Trust, which is seeking to rescue and restore the Grade I listed building and its surrounding estate.
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It goes without saying that the crew take the greatest care to ensure that nothing of historical value is damaged or affected by their activity, leaving West Horsley Place exactly as they found it.
"We start reinstating everything on our way out so by the time we're filming our last scene of the last day, almost everything is back to how it was bar that one space that we're filming in," Mulot explains.
Much work has been done since our last visit to West Horsley Place, with co-star Ritchie telling us in September 2022 that renovation is moving at a much faster place in real-life than it is in the continuity of the show.
"The rest of the place has always been continuously improved, so each time they have to come and dilapidate it more because Mike and Alison don't have the money that the real West Horsley Place have – because they don't have a BBC show filming there every year," she explained.
The Ghosts team certainly get the most value out of their location as possible, utilising virtually every room for scenes or storage and finding inventive workarounds for the most ambitious scenes.
In the opening of season 1, an elderly woman passes away in the master bedroom and we see her ghost float up above her before disappearing – a scene that was actually filmed in a completely different part of the house.
Mulot recalled: "The truth is, there's not an awful lot of room in [the bedroom] to be floating a lady around, so in the ballroom we set up a massive green screen, and we had Ania [Marson] stood on a green box on her tiptoes pretending to float.
"The trick was, we had a camera that was up high and it just slowly moved down against the green screen so then the effect was that it looked like she was rising up.
"It was quite a number, but because it was the beginning of episode one, we wanted to do something that was quite visually arresting."
The production team behind Ghosts have pulled off several ambitious sequences at West Horsley Place, but believe the hard work is always worth it in service to comedy.
Mulot continued: "We do have to weigh up how complicated it is, how expensive it is, how funny it is – and if it's funny, it's worth tackling one and two."
"If it's not funny, we're like 'we're not spending X amount of money and X amount of time doing that'. But the [writers] are hilarious and the scripts are great, so more often than not if they write it we just find a way to do it."
That was the case with the so-called "plague pit" scenes, featuring a large cluster of ghosts who reside in the basement of the house – which are actually filmed in a room next door to the kitchen.
Mulot revealed: "There's just a room that's not a basement at all, but we just blackout all of the windows, we cover over the doors to the kitchen with the boiler and some other things, and we basically just create that.
"To be fair, if we did have a basement, filming down in it would probably be a nightmare. It's already quite dark and claustrophobic, because the idea is there's sort of infinite plague victims down there."
The plague pit characters took a lesser role in last year's third season due (ironically) to pandemic filming restrictions, but they make a welcome return to the forefront in the season 4 opener.
For the 2020 Christmas special, the production team were tasked with transforming parts of West Horsley Place into completely different locations for a series of flashbacks about Simon Farnaby's deceased politician, Julian Fawcett MP.
The episode opens with him giving a speech in the House of Commons, filmed in the house against a green screen setup, while his Westminster office was also created from dressing up one of the many rooms at the team's disposal.
Perhaps more impressively, the designers were able to turn a small area at the back of the house into the outside of a nightclub on a busy city street for another scene showing Julian in his mortal days.
"They brought Soho to the middle of the countryside," Farnaby told RadioTimes.com.
Last year, the flashback in the Christmas episode is contained to a single room in the house, dressed up to look like a previous residence of Lady Button (Martha Howe-Douglas) and her mother (Jennifer Saunders).
West Horsley Place is currently under renovation in real life, meaning that some of the scaffolding spotted throughout season one was real, as opposed to set dressing.
"We can just incorporate it into our story that that's just work they're having done, rather than the real-life builders are genuinely coming back the day after we finish filming to continue working in that room," Mulot said.
West Horsley Place Trust hopes to turn the property into a welcoming space for the community to share and enjoy with arts, history, wellbeing and nature at its heart.
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