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Ghosts: Laurence Rickard on finding the stakes of the show when ghosts are involved

The solution was to look to the regular people, apparently

Larry Rickard as Robin in Ghosts
Image credit: BBC

What do you do when you can't put your characters in mortal danger? When they can't eat, sleep, need shelter, and a good chunk of other stuff that drives human drama? This was a major issue for the writers (who are also actors) of the hit BBC series Ghosts.

At the Ghosts panel at this year's MCM London, writer and Robin/Humphrey's Head actor Laurence Rickard spoke about this conundrum. "Normally in stories to a degree, you're looking for something bad to happen that then you engineer a way of getting y our characters out of. You'll always get an exec telling you about stakes. 'I like it and its funny and it's brilliant, but where are the stakes? ' And it's difficult with ghosts because normally stakes are things like 'these people need some money' or these people are fearing for their life... ghosts it doesn't work with."

It was a geniune problem in the writing that took a while to fix. Rickard continued, "For ages we couldn't we couldn't work out how you put jeapordy and stakes in it, and then it was finding the idea of living people who sort of became a proxy for the jeapordy and the stakes. And then that second level where one can see them and the other one can't - that was the sort of tent poles, as a structure that works."

And work it has, leading the show into a successful (and very funny) five seasons and even an American spinoff.

Watch the full Ghosts MCM panel by becoming a Popverse Member.

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Tiffany Babb avatar

Tiffany Babb

Deputy Editor

Tiffany Babb is Popverse's deputy editor and resident Sondheim enthusiast. Tiffany likes stories that understand genre conventions (whether they play into them or against them), and she cries very easily at the movies— but rarely at the moments that are meant to be tearjerkers.