BBC’s Ghosts: “Door is Open” For Beloved Character’s Return
Fan-favourite character is gone-gone for now, but there's always the possibility of a return, say the co-creators of BBC's Ghosts. Spoilers
Warning: contains spoilers for Ghosts Series 4 episode 4 ‘Gone, Gone’.
It was the shock of the series. One minute Mary was there, the next she’d been “sucked off”. A glowing light, an angelic choir and Button House’s fennel-loving 17th century treasure ascended into the sky. Unprepared for her sudden exit, the other Ghosts proceeded to fall apart in an episode that gave fans an insightful comedy take on grief.
“We never intended for a character to leave, so it was very sad, the whole process,” co-creator Ben Willbond told BBC’s Inside… Ghosts podcast. Mary’s final scene “wasn’t the last bit in the schedule with Katy [Wix],” he explained, meaning the experience of filming it wasn’t necessarily emotional, more a question of how to achieve the right tone for a family-friendly comedy episode themed around death.
“The Ghosts are dead but they’re still living as ghosts, and there is that constant threat that they might go at any stage,” explains Willbond, the writer of ‘Gone, Gone’. “That kicks off for the rest of the Ghosts this fear that oh, actually, we’re here for a long time but we could go at any time, pretty much like life! That is what the episode’s about.”
It was Mat Baynton’s idea for Mary to be “sucked off” with no build-up right at the start of the episode, Willbond explained on the podcast. “We thought, we’ve got to tackle the whole theme of death. So rather than drawing out her death over this episode, Mat had this brilliant idea in the writing room, he said, let’s just do it straight away and then we deal with the fall-out.”
So, is that if for Mary, or is there a chance that Katy Wix’s character could return in future episodes? Mat Baynton told Inside… Ghosts presenter and actor Nathan Bryon, “It’s possible isn’t it, because we do flashbacks and Mary was in that house as a ghost for many a year, so you know, the door is open.”
Why Did Mary Get “Sucked Off” Then?
Another mystery lingers over Mary’s ascension: why did it happen then? Speaking to Bryon on the podcast, Katy Wix had her own theory. “It’s interesting to what degree you can will yourself to be sucked off,” she joked, noting that Mary’s ascension “coincided with the whole notion of her finding her voice in episode two.”
In episode two ‘Speak as ye choose’, fans met Annie, a Button House servant from the Puritan era played by comedian, writer, actor and Taskmaster Lee Van Cleef impersonator Bridget Christie. Over the centuries, Annie’s rebellious instinct rubbed off on Mary until she was empowered to cast off the bonds of the patriarchy that had burned her at the stake, and started to say what she thought – much in the manner of her idols, the Loose Womens.
“I sort of read it as philosophically that you have to heal something or conclude something or something needs to happen in order for you to be sucked off, in the way that in purgatory that you’re waiting to move on, either up or down. She’s gone up!” said Wix. “I read it as when it’s your time, it’s your time and you’ve completed some sort of reason or you’ve learnt something from your time in that temporary state.”
“Or maybe it’s something about the paradox of coming to peace that you’re stuck and that’s suddenly when things change, maybe it’s something like that. Without trying to ‘deep it’ too much, as they say on Love Island.”
Even if Wix – whose 2021 memoir Delicacy is an excellent, funny and darkly insightful read – isn’t seen again in Ghosts or Stath Lets Flats now that’s come to an end, fans can look forward to seeing her in the second series of Jack Rooke’s great Channel 4 comedy Big Boys alongside Derry Girls‘ Dylan Llewellyn.
Inside… Ghosts is available on BBC Sounds following each episode of Ghosts on BBC One.