Ghosts Series Four | Interview with Katy Wix (Mary)

Why do you think Ghosts has struck such a chord with people?

Its audience spans the generations. Everyone has a different favourite character. It’s also a very escapist half-hour. You can lose yourself in an alternative reality. But in some ways, it’s quite traditional as well. It’s like The Odd Couple – people stuck together who wouldn’t normally be stuck together. It’s got genuine charm.

It’s not an obvious subject for a sitcom, is it?

No. But even though it’s about death, it has got a wholesomeness to it. It’s an easy, cosy watch. I think it handles the subject in quite a light-hearted way. But it’s also got a complex layer to it, if you want to read it that way. It’s about what it’s like to be stuck in a kind of purgatory.

What other messages does Ghosts contain?

It’s about the relationships you have with the people you’re stuck with. The Ghosts are a sort of family. They squabble, but there’s this understanding that if they don’t have each other, they are going to be worse off. And so that is one nice message to take away from it: we’re stuck together, but we’ve only got each other to help us through this.

How would you characterise Mary?

I think she’s quite eccentric and also quite sensitive. She’s definitely got PTSD from her past story, which we’ve done a little bit more about in this series. I always imagined she would have been illiterate when she was alive. She was working on the land, and I don’t think as a woman she would have been going to school at that point. So the way she speaks has evolved over the centuries. She’s learned how to speak with a more modern vernacular, but still get things wrong.

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How does Mary view the world today?

At times, she is really confused and frightened by the modern world, but I think there’s another side to her. When she was alive, I get the impression that she would have been a wise woman. It’s hinted at that she was interested in herbology and using nature to heal things. So I think she’s got this wisdom about things, and she’s a little overlooked. She might not always know what to do, but she’s a survivor. Life would have been so hard in the era where she was alive. It would have been such a struggle. She’s gone through a lot. They should write a really feminist episode where it’s just Mary, Lady Button and Kitty sitting around saying how terrible life was for women!

What happens to Mary in the new series?

She gets a new friend, which is lovely. They have a really lovely relationship. You get a bit more of her inner thoughts when she’s away from the group and maybe a sense that if there’s a slight injustice, she takes it quite personally.

There’s a wonderful chemistry between the whole ensemble on Ghosts, isn’t there?

Yes. That’s one of the reasons why it works so well. We’ve all known each other for a long time, since the Horrible Histories days. Most of us have done stuff up at the Edinburgh Fringe. We all do a lot of live comedy as well. I did a gig with Kiell just a few weeks ago. And so it’s nice because I think there’s a kind of shorthand there. As soon as they explained the show to me, I knew the kind of tone they were going for. And, you know, I understood it straightaway. We all come from a character background, so it was just quite easy to slot into their tone. We’re all firm friends, and that makes for a really delightful atmosphere on set.

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Alastair James is the editor in chief for Memorable TV. He has been involved in media since his university days. Alastair is passionate about television, and some of his favourite shows include Line of Duty, Luther and Traitors. He is always on the lookout for hot new shows, and is always keen to share his knowledge with others.