The Christmas special is a time-honoured tradition. Whether showrunners use it for groundbreaking plot points, like Doctor Who’s ‘The Runaway Bride’; heartbreak with snow in the background, like Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s ‘Amends’; or just as an excuse to kill off some characters and call it festive fun, like in every soap ever- they’re a classic in every series.
It’s rare that an episode balances comedy, festivity and makes the audience shed a few tears, all whilst keeping to the spirit of the show. However, that’s what BBC’s Ghosts has accomplished, not just once but three times, and with a fourth (and final) Christmas special on the way, hopefully once more.
Ghosts makes for the perfect Christmas-time watch. The tropes of the show include found families, lovable ensemble casts, and jokes followed by heart-wrenching scenes, which already fit comfortably into Christmas themes, standing to reason that the three specials are some of the standout episodes so far. The show follows Allison (Charlotte Ritchie), who discovers her recently inherited mansion is haunted when a near-death experience results in a newfound ability to see ghosts. Ghosts is the successor of beloved children’s TV show Horrible Histories, and manages the same blend of comedy and seriousness. The Christmas episodes, in particular, are home to both some of the most deeply touching scenes and the best gags. For instance, Julian- a disgraced Tory MP who was caught with his pants down- finds out his daughter followed him in becoming an MP (though for the Green party to his horror); Kitty- a bubbly Georgian ghost- receiving her dream Christmas present (a £14.99 dancing Santa) and the World War II Captain acting as the fairy godmother in a Cinderella pantomime.
The Christmas episodes, in particular, are home to both some of the most deeply touching scenes and the best gags
It’s the sad parts that really make the Christmas specials; one episode ends with a (haunting) performance of In the Bleak Midwinter, which is tear-jerking despite never answering the question of how the ghosts, half of whom died before Christina Rossetti was even born, knew the lyrics. The scene which most captures Christmas the most however is one ghost, Pat, watching home videos of his Christmases when alive and realising they weren’t exactly as he remembered. By the end of the episode my entire family were in tears. Whilst Christmassy in theme, it’s not necessary to be religious or celebrate Christmas to enjoy a good Christmas special. Still, they should feel like families or friends can take a break from the ordinary and sit around and watch them together. Ghosts is definitely one of those specials.
Still, they should feel like families or friends can take a break from the ordinary and sit around and watch them together.