The much-anticipated finale of Ghosts season 5 airs on BBC One tonight – but if you'd switched on the telly a decade ago to this very day, you would have seen the so-called 'Six Idiots' in a rather different series.


Yonderland premiered on Sky One on 10th November 2013, and told the story of a stay-at-home mum named Debbie (Martha Howe-Douglas), who discovers she is actually the saviour of a faraway realm.

The titular place is utterly unpredictable, governed by a council of dim-witted Elders and populated by a diverse range of species and communities, each one more surreal than the last.

To mark the launch of the official Ghosts tie-in book – The Button House asked co-creators Howe-Douglas, Jim Howick and Mathew Baynton to share memories and lessons from their earlier project.

Check out the video above for everything they had to say about Yonderland or read on for the highlights.

It should come as no surprise to Yonderland fans that Howick's favourite character to play was The Crone, a hilarious figure known for her screeching tone and outlandish statements.

"The Crone is probably the standout memory simply because she features in every series, and I think her part sort of grew," he began. "Her part was very much a story beat in episode one, which then became this kind of running joke.

"I loved playing her. I absolutely loved it, it was really fun. Of all the characters in Yonderland, her and the Elder were the only two I kept coming back to."

Baynton went on to reveal that, in its early stages of development, Ghosts was poised to be a similar show to Yonderland, with each member of the group playing several characters in a far busier Button House.

The Crone (Jim Howick) in Yonderland shouting and holding two pears
Jim Howick plays The Crone in Yonderland. Matt Frost/WTTV Limited/Sky

He explained: "I don't think Ghosts could have been written before Yonderland – or certainly it wouldn't have come out the same.

"We went into Ghosts having done Yonderland with the same multi-character mindset, thinking, 'We're going to play lots of characters.'

"So Ghosts, when we wrote the pilot, was a house full of ghosts [and] we were going to play all of them."

The writers later concluded that the premise would work better with a smaller group of characters, who had no choice but to socialise with one another – or else they'd be completely alone.

Baynton continued: "We looked at it and we went, 'Hang on: this is about being stuck with people. And if you're in a community of 100, it's like school – you can avoid that clique and hang out with these people that are your like minds.'

"And you're not really stuck if there's that many people to kind of choose from. It's a different thing. So we eschewed all of that and stuck to these characters, this small ensemble because that felt right for that show."

Debbie stands between two of Yonderland's eccentric 'elders' in a photo taken for the Sky comedy
(L-R) Mathew Baynton, Martha Howe-Douglas and Ben Willbond star in Yonderland. Matt Frost/Sky/Working Title Productions

He continued: "I'm still really fond of Yonderland. I see bits of it now and I cannot believe that they put it on telly. It's so chaotic."

Martha Howe-Douglas capped off our retrospective with a surprising revelation – she almost played Alison in Ghosts!

"For me, personally, the transition from Yonderland to Ghosts was that I got back into playing 'character' because, obviously, in Yonderland I was the sort of Alison character," she recalled.

"And, because we did three years of that, that kind of felt like my natural... that's where I felt most at home at that point, which is crazy because we started on Horrible Histories, where we were playing all these mad characters."

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Howe-Douglas added: "So when we were doing Ghosts and we were writing it, I was thinking, 'Should I just be the Alison character?' And the guys were like, 'No, you have to be a character, you have to come back and play with us.'"

Of course, she went on to portray the legendary Lady Fanny Button – "and we all know how that ended up: ridiculously extreme, but so much fun!"

Ghosts seasons 1-5 are available to stream on BBC iPlayer. Check out more of our Comedy coverage or visit our TV Guide and Streaming Guide to find out what's on.


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