You Absolutely Must Watch BBC One's Ghosts Before the American Import

CBS will soon release Ghosts' adaptation. The 2019 BBC One comedy is about a couple with limited resources who suddenly become the new owners of a sprawling, once-luxurious country manor. Unfortunately, a lot of ghosts are also present. You might get the impression from the trailers of CBS Ghosts that there was a lot of work involved in making the story more appealing to American viewers. To be fair, this might have been CBS' goal.

It would be irresponsible, however, to not at least give CBS Ghosts a chance, not just to compare the two but also to appreciate the charm of the 2019 series and to understand why it has been on air for three seasons.

Ghosts follow Alison (Charlotte Ritchie), and Mike (KiellSmith-Bynoe), as they leave the city to start a new life at Button House. This old mansion has been in decline for nearly 100 years. Its previous owner, the last living Button, died at almost 100 years. Although Mike and Alison would be able to sell the property as is, they feel that Button House speaks to them both and they decide to keep it and make improvements to it.

Everyone is free to reinvent ghost stories. BBC Ones Ghosts, however, seemed to have no interest. It opts instead for a simpler approach. The show introduces Mike, Alison, and then it focuses on the large, titular cast who have been living at Button House, unrecognised by the living.

Locals have reported that a gray lady can be seen walking the halls at night and can be heard screaming from the second floor windows in the moonlight. This is one reason why living people avoid Button House. Although the reputation of Lady Fanny Button (Martha Howe Douglas) is alarming, it is actually a harmless ghost who can't help but relive the traumatizing final moments in her life every night while the other ghosts are sleeping. Fanny, along with all the other ghosts of Button House, is tied to the property due to an unfinished business that she cannot be finished with because of her inability to interact fully with the living world. Fanny is both delighted and alarmed by Alisonone, one of Fanny's descendants. It could have implications for their family estate. Fanny would be delighted to see Alison keep the house, as it would ensure that Button House remains within the family.

Alison and Mike's plans to make it a hotel are something that Fanny and other ghosts, like Mary (Katy Wix), an Elizabethan ghost who was burnt at the stake for practicing witchcraft and suspected of being a Stuart-era ghost, would rather avoid. They fear what nuisances living people can cause to the dead. Fanny, Mary and other ghosts, such as the Captain (Ben Willbond), an infamous WWII officer who was close to Mary, band together to drive Mike and Alison out of their home using the few abilities they have. Robin (Laurence Rickard), who was a caveman who was killed on the spot where Button House was built, can block lights using focus. Julian Fawcett (Simon Farnaby), a 90s-era lecherous MP, can manipulate small objects by concentrating enough so that his finger point tangible. When people pass Mary, they get whiffs from the same smoke that choked her while she was roasting.

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The ghosts attempt to haunt Alison, Mike from Button House together, but none of them can cause enough disturbance to warrant being noticed. Ghosts changes all that when Alison experiences a near-death accident that gives her the ability of seeing Mike and her new housemates.


Ghosts is not a comedy about any particular series. However, it does have some great jokes about the haunted-house genre and ghost stories. Pat (Jim Howick), a ghost of a camp counselor who died in an unfortunate archery incident, isn't really considered the leader of Button Houses haunts. But he is a great representation of how each ghost enjoys being with other people, regardless of their death. This subtle truth Ghosts starts to establish early on. No one really comments on the fact that Kitty (Lolly Adefope), a wealthy socialite from the Georgian era, is a Black woman who, historically-speaking, does not seem to make much sense in Button House because everyones far too busy being annoyed by Kittys incessant questions and over-excitability. They are close friends because they know each other well. This is especially true when Alison cannot see them all.

The biggest difference between CBSs adaptation and BBC Ones Ghosts is the way they are both stories about people living in the same home. While some of Button Houses mysteries may be fascinating, most episodes of BBC show are about Alison and Mike discovering that another aspect of the mansion is beyond what they can fix. They will have to find a way to make quick cash, such as renting it out to a film crew to shoot a Downton Abbey-like period drama.

Another major difference between the original and the new adaptation is that the ghosts who haunt Button Houses basement are the only ones who died during the bubonic plagues. The BBC Ones Ghosts' plague ghosts are all played by the same actors. CBS instead uses other actors to portray the ghosts in the basement. This makes the haunted house appear more temporary.


Ghosts reminds us that it is possible that one of our spirits will pass on to the next stage. It's less about highlighting the stakes as all of our relationships grow stronger and more about laughing at the fact some people can't seem to get their act together no matter how hard they try.

It has been running for quite some time, which makes BBC Ones Ghosts worth your attention. CBS Ghosts may be the show you are most interested in watching weekly when it debuts on October 8. However, the BBC One originals' first three series can be viewed on HBO Max.


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