Larry Rickard on his characters Robin and Humphrey in Ghosts
21st September 8.30pm, BBC One
6 episodes. All episodes available on iPlayer
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You can’t fake the kind of camaraderie that exists between the creative team behind Ghosts says member Larry Rickard...
"It feels like a sorbet every time we get back together, or like taking the belt off at the end of a long day as you relax into it because we know it’s so much fun and we know the dynamic works so well, so there is a great joy in it. Also, when you are part of an ensemble you share the pressures and the work load is split evenly so you don’t carry the same weight on your shoulders and you know someone has your back. It is fun and exciting and there is a slight sense of relief every time we get back together.
"The thing that has worked with us through the years is that we are all very different people and sometimes the only thing we have in common is a sense of humour. So we all bring very different things to the table and there is hopefully a cohesive voice for the whole series but within that there are little surprises and differences and styles that occur during the episodes. Particularly this series Mat (Baynton) and Jim (Howick) have written a few episodes and the format of them is new and exciting; we have one which is centred around the notion of an unreliable narrator, when you’re hearing one story told from a number of points of view, and there is another where we are trying to piece together what happened the night before with these funny, drunken memories.
"Mat said there is this sense in our work of the naughtiest kid in class cheekiness and there is always 1% in our performances where were are, in a way, pulling our beards down and going ‘hey look, it’s me!’ Even if we tried to hide it, there is a fun competitive element when we are shooting with us always trying to make each other laugh and that gives a tone of reverence and cheekiness that seeps into it all. That’s the kind of thing you can’t fake and is what works a lot of the time with ensemble comedies, the camaraderie that bubbles up through the material."
Larry tells us what’s in store in the new series for Robin, Humphrey and co...
"We left off last series with the idea of the hotel being put to one side after they found the mass grave with all of the plague victims in the cellar, so Mike (Kiell Smith-Bynoe) and Alison (Charlotte Ritchie) are trying to figure out how to earn some money so they can stop the roof from falling in. They hit upon this idea of hiring some of the house out as a venue. There is a thread that runs through the series of them trying to get on the books of a big events agency that does weddings but at every turn they keep finding more problems with the house and that goal keeps moving further out of reach. Mike and Alison are grabbing onto that dream with their fingernails and the ghosts are constantly taking it away from them."
Larry explains why he enjoys playing one of the most comical ghosts in the series, Robin the caveman...
"Jim early on identified what is so fun about Robin - the ghosts work as a big extended family, The Captain (Ben Willbond) is a strange kind of father figure and Lady Button (Martha Howe-Douglas) is a matriarch and Jim said Robin is like the family dog, he is kicked out the way and not taken too seriously but at the same time everyone is a little bit scared of him as you never can be sure what you’re going to get. At times he is even the wisest member of the family, he is not massively smart but he has been around far longer than any one else and he has seen so much that he has picked up a lot of knowledge and wisdom. However, Robin may have been around for so long but every time someone lights a match he still can’t help but get excited. At heart he is still just a caveman. There is a childlike wonder and zeal he gets from some things. There is definitely some of that in this series. No one has ever mentioned that there have been moon landings and learning that totally blows his mind, he goes down an internet research rabbit hole."
Playing a caveman means Larry has to spend a while in the make-up chair every morning. He tells us about this process of getting into his character...
"I like playing big, ridiculous characters and I have always been fascinated by special effects and prosthetic make-up which is lucky because the other guys have been very open in saying they would not enjoy having to put on Robin’s make-up every day. Complete costume and make up for Robin takes about two and a half hours to put on and about 45 minutes to get it all off. The most it has ever taken is four hours. There are many different elements involved; there are a couple of prosthetic pieces and then some more traditional make-up techniques are used as well. And then there’s the wig and the teeth caps and the nose insert. What is fun is that because it is all completely glued to your skin other than the nose insert and teeth caps, it’s easy to forget about it and it starts to feel like your skin. So I forget it’s there and it means every now and then I get very funny looks as I will just wander into a room, having completely forgotten how I look and join in conversations like normal."
Larry shares some of the other amusing challenges that come with playing Robin and headless Tudor Humphrey…
"There is a weird sadistic challenge to Humphrey where in order to make the visual effects work I have to be completely still and I like the challenge of trying to contort my body into the strangest positions I can, to cheat my body out of the position you are expecting it to be in so when you look at the finished shot you are going ‘how could they have done that?’ Also, 90% of the time I have only ever played him from the neck up as someone else plays the body. That’s a weird challenge. With Robin he is so sparing with what he says that a lot of the time it gets to a point with the writing where you have to make his single line in a scene work which ends up with me getting the ridiculous one liners, the punch lines, and I enjoy that."
Source BBC iPlayer
September 22, 2020 7:30am ET by BBC iPlayer