CBS Adapts a Hit British Comedy into a Uniquely American Sitcom with “Ghosts”

CBS gets spooky starting October 7th with the premiere of Ghosts, an Americanization of a British series of the same name. “We're standing on the shoulders of giants,” executive producer Joe Wiseman said at the TCA Summer Press Tour about the task of adapting a hit series. “The show [they] created captured my heart immediately, and I hope we're doing it justice.”

(Cliff Lipson/CBS)

(Cliff Lipson/CBS)

“Such a big part of the British show is those British archetypes that are their wonderful ghosts,” Joe Port added, who executive produces the show with Wiseman. “Joe and I saw a big opportunity to put our own stamp on it with American archetypes for this show. Some of them bear quite a resemblance to their British counterparts, and others are big departures. But that’s just based on what was right for this area, where this house is, and what kind of American history took place in that region.”

Set in the Hudson Valley, the show’s setting allows for characters from various time periods to reside in the house. Rose McIver plays Samantha, one half of the couple that moves in and the only one of the two who can see the ghosts. “The patchwork of this cast honestly is extraordinary,” the actress explained. “When we look at the original show, which I'm such a fan of, the BBC Ghosts, it's big shoes to fill. I didn't watch too, too much of it, because I didn't want to feel any more pressure than I did… The Joes have done such a great job in bringing together people who have a natural chemistry that you feel when you watch the show.”

“It's certainly as diverse as any other show, and they've been super open to our input,” Utkarsh Ambudkar shared, who plays Samantha’s husband Jay, who can’t see the ghosts. “I get to just stare up into space and pretend that I'm listening,” he joked about the scenes where Jay is oblivious to the presence of the actors sharing the scene. “It's really just pick a spot in the middle space, think about what three to four of your favorite movies are, and that is kind of how you play a scene with imaginary characters.”

While Rose and Utkarsh get to change costumes to show a change of time throughout the series, the look of the ghosts remains a constant. “It's really nice to not ever have a fitting ever again,” joked Rebecca Wisocky, who plays Hetty. For Richie Moriarty, whose character Pete died by taking an arrow through the head, a comparison to the BBC series caused a bit of jealousy. “Jim Howick, who plays basically like a translation of my character in the BBC version, his arrow is like this much shorter, because he breaks it off at one point during his death scene,” the actor said. “I'm like, why didn't you guys write that in for me? I have the full arrow in my neck.”

“I have to shout out Joe Wiseman and Joe Port for this because they valued respectful representation over continuity,” Román Zaragoza said about his costume to bring Sasappis to life, which changes after the pilot. “They brought in a consultant who helped them and our amazing costume designer, Carmen Ali, to change the costume and be something a little bit more appropriate and accurate.” However, he did share that it’s heavy and tough to wear during a 12-hour day.

The character of Trevor was caught with his pants down when he died, a joke that actor Asher Goodman was grateful for during the summer. “It's gotten like 15 degrees cooler here, so now I'm questioning some things a little bit,” he joked. “There was a lot of measuring and figuring out the right levels, for sure, how much thigh to show.  And there's a lovely moment in the pilot where we were just like, ‘All right, that's it,’ and then you see everything. We're probably testing the boundaries of CBS with that one, but I love my costume.”

Ghosts already has a large cast, with some spirits relegated to certain parts of the house, like the basement where cholera outbreak patients perished. “It's a big property, there's all sorts of areas I can be sniffing around in,” Rose McIver said about the possibility of finding more ghosts in the home. “It does feel like the type of show where if you shake a tree, that a ghost will fall out,” Brandon Scott Jones added, who plays Isaac. ?There's like more characters to come probably that aren't alive.”

Are there more ghosts to come? You can watch the new CBS sitcom Ghosts to find out, starting Thursday, October 7th. New episodes will stream live and be available on-demand on Paramount+.