Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Sad, Spooky, Silly

'The Ghosts Of Motley Hall' ran for three series on ITV from 1976 to 1978. The premise was straightforward: the various ghosts of a stately home band together to protect their way of death against developers, prospective tenants, vagrants and, most of all, much more malevolent spirits who want to take possession. Despite the obvious hilarity that ensues when an invisible entity kicks an estate agent up the arse, a deep undercurrent of melancholy ran through the show from the opening credits onwards.


Developed as an obvious response to BBC's 'Rentaghost', 'The Ghosts Of Motley Hall' was infinitely superior, with great, thoughtful scripts by 'Catweazle' creator Richard Carpenter and a fantastic cast of proper actors (Sir Freddie Jones; Nichola Le Provost; Sheila Steafel; Peter Sallis; a subdued Arthur English) who were all able to convey the intrinsically unhappy situation of a trapped spirit inbetween the more obvious knockabout stuff.

The show occasionally got pretty dark with plenty of ouijja board play, some scary special guests, electric exorcisms and, of course, the constant threat of the ghosts losing their place in the world and being forced to wander a nameless, formless astral hinterland alone for all eternity. It used to make me feel rather sad sometimes, but I watched it every week.

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