Ben Willbond is The Captain in Ghosts

21st September 8.30pm, BBC One

6 episodes. All episodes available on iPlayer


BBC iPlayer

Ben Willbond, back as The Captain in the second series of BBC One’s Ghosts, discusses his thoughts about comedy and where his love for it began...

"When I first met Larry (Rickard), we had this connection which was our love of comedy, in all its forms and we bemoaned the fact it had become prescriptive. Everything began to be listed as ‘a comedy for kids’ or ‘a comedy for teens’, and we just thought ‘can’t comedy just be comedy?’ As we grew in our respective experiences, we realised that family comedy is elusive. It never used to be. Growing up you would watch what was on offer and by default it was family comedy.

"I got slightly obsessed with Blackadder and Fawlty Towers. When Blackadder happened I thought to myself ‘I just want to do that.’ You can probably see echoes of that in The Captain. Basil Fawlty is basically The Captain in a much reduced form, he is a frustrated authority figure who has no authority. It feels lovely to be a part of something that appeals to everyone. I don’t make a comedic distinction in my head, if something is funny then it’s lovely to think a family will sit there and all enjoy it together. I love the idea of that."

Ben explains how the huge success of the first series of Ghosts affected their work on the second and allowed him to relax...

"I feel very fortunate. We worked really hard [on series one] and we did what we felt was right and we are very happy it paid off. Feeling that going into the second series is nice because you feel much more confident in the characters, they are set in by that stage and so you are slightly more relaxed. Whereas the first time around you’re constantly thinking ‘is that alright?’, and as we are all the creators you have six lots of nervy questioning creatives on site. We are a lot more relaxed and I hope that comes across with this one. I certainly had more fun."

Ben is part of the creative team who have written, executive produced and acted in Ghosts. Ben discusses their creative process...

"Our creative process has taken time to become what it is because we are all very different people but essentially we get around the table, bash the stories out and figure out where each one is going. With experience that gets a little easier each time. We all make sure the series arc is working and we are always keeping an eye on whether it is funny enough. Then from there we go off and write episodes and come back to the table. There is that sense of safety that if I am too busy then the other guys will get on and do a draft and I’ll do something later on. There is definitely safety in numbers. If the onus were on one or two of us, specifically in this lockdown situation, it would have been really difficult. Being so restricted to our time focuses the mind a lot better. It is a good example of how much you can do in a short amount of time if you really put your mind to it."

Whilst he may not be like his character in many ways, Ben reveals one thing that they do share...

"I was actually about to join the army when I was 22, so I went through all of that training and I had a very military upbringing so I am used to things like The Captain’s uniform and all of these weird details that I think are normal but others think are weird because I grew up around it. I was in every single kind of cadet force. However, I was told quite quickly I didn’t belong there. I think it would have been a mistake. For that and other reasons it was pretty obvious, for me, that I would pay this role. I love The Captain; he is so brilliantly flawed and desperate. I love those characters."

And Ben admits the question he is most often asked by fans is what The Captain’s name is…

“I sort of knew it would come up at some point. I think I do know the answer but I don’t know if it will ever be revealed…”

Working alongside a team of hilarious people can prove quite difficult when you are prone to corpsing, Ben explains...

"I find all of the team hilarious, they are the most incredible comic actors, each with their own quirks. It has got to the stage now where all you have to do is catch someone’s eye and that is the take ruined. There are some very funny moments and I am generally the first one to go. I am terrible at it. I am sure it’s lost me jobs in the past. I can’t keep a straight face."

Ben hints at what’s in store for the new series of Ghosts...

"We realised we could show elements of the ghosts’ pasts without showing their demise or beginning and it was nice to take a look at a snapshot of what would have been their daily life. There is so much more to learn about the ghosts, that is what we felt we were doing and there is also a lot more fun to be had with them. It is always nice to see characters relaxing and having fun; they really come to life this series - as it were. At its heart this show is joyous family silliness."

Source BBC iPlayer

September 22, 2020 8:45am ET by BBC iPlayer  


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