Queen of the comedy Charlotte Ritchie on Ghosts: “It’s affectionate, little cynical – and people fall apart”

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Queen of the comedy Charlotte Ritchie on Ghosts: “It’s affectionate, little cynical – and people fall apart”


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CHarlotte Ritchie is making video calls from her London apartment, which she has shared with two friends for the past seven years. “How can I do this? Should I quit WhatsApp? OKAY! I am here! I’m really sorry, I took the wrong time, ”she said, slightly confused, having arrived just a few minutes late. “I was making lunch very lazily, then I thought it was later and… my bad.” “

We’re only talking about an hour, but it’s easy to see why his character George was adorned with a series of silly and effusive nicknames in the British comedy-drama Feel Good: English rose; a small red bean; a dangerous Mary Poppins. “The benchmark for fit squirrel is good,” she adds. “And Dangerous Mary Poppins, I love that one!” “

She’s here to talk about the return of Ghosts, the much-loved BBC comedy written by the crew of Horrible Histories, about to begin its third series. Ritchie plays Alison, a young woman who inherits a huge mansion haunted by a number of ghosts and spirits dating back to the Stone Age. Only she can see them and speak to them. His humor is as crisp as it is broad, and he has proven to be extremely popular. Ritchie describes him as “really not very cynical and very affectionate. If there isn’t something you like in the first minute, then there will definitely be something for you in the next three minutes. If you don’t like puns a bit, someone will fall. I ask who his favorite ghost is. “Politically, I can’t say,” she insists firmly. “I’m very fair with the group. But I feel like Lolly [Adefope, who plays Kitty] is often on fire.

It’s behind you! … Robin the Caveman follows Ritchie in Ghosts. Photographie : Mark Johnson/BBC/Button Hall Productions

Ghosts is a perfect ensemble comedy, which suits Ritchie perfectly. “I’m sure it’s great and very satisfying to be a lone ranger, leading something, but I’ve always worked better with other people,” she says. It was an earlier ensemble comedy, Fresh Meat, that made its name. Before that, she had been part of a four-piece vocal group called All Angels, which traveled the country performing classical music in front of large audiences. “The image of the group seemed very distinct from the experience of the group,” she says. “And I think that was a difficult thing for me to fill. I have to be careful what I say, because I don’t mean to be rude about it. Maybe it’s not to my liking now? But it was an incredible experience. I did this for four or five years.

In 2011, Ritchie was in her final year at the University of Bristol, where she studied English and Drama, when she auditioned for Fresh Meat, a series about student roommates. She went on a Monday to read for the role of Oregon, a poster for the supposedly student-activist; she got the job that day, packed her house in Bristol and moved to Manchester to start work the next morning. The actors have been in contact with each other a lot recently. “We celebrated our 10th anniversary. I think it was in May when we joined the show. “Us” like in the cast, not “us” like in me, ”she laughs. ”a show.’ Me, myself. Anyway, I watched some of them and can’t believe I got to be a part of them.

I also watched old music videos for the first time in years, and got a lot more recognition from Oregon than I did back then. “This is what I achieved! Ritchie said. “Now that I’m 10 years older, I can see how I was in Oregon back then. I am amazed to only begin to realize how much I was like Oregon.

“I just started to realize how much I was like Oregon”… Ritchie in Fresh Meat

Fresh Meat was a hit and the previously unknown cast members suddenly found themselves recognized. Ritchie still remembers the road she was on in Bristol when she was first sighted. She had just bought new leggings. “And I was like, ‘Damn! They don’t care about my leggings. I hate the model, obviously they hate the model too. It takes you back to 14 and someone whispering about you in the classroom. What did these leggings look like? “They were furry inside, with a Christmas motif. Was it Christmas? ” No! It was in March.

After the Fresh Meat students graduated, Ritchie moved on Sunday night in prime time on the BBC to join Call the Midwife in 2015, where she played beloved nurse Barbara. It was a shift from Channel 4 to BBC One, from comedy to drama. ” Totally different. While there were some comedic bits in it, it was definitely a conscious decision to do something that had more drama. I remember saying to my mom as we watched it, “I would love to do a show like this. “

After three rounds, however, she found out that she was starting to miss the comedy. “And I felt like maybe I was getting a little comfortable, and that’s probably not great. I wasn’t ready to get comfortable yet. But it was not an easy decision. A nation cried when Nurse Barbara succumbed to sepsis while her husband Tom and Nurse Crane watched over her bedside. “It was the first time that I had died from something,” Ritchie says. “It was very morbid. It’s weird playing or playing something that’s really real to people. There were a few directions where it was right, “Lay down in your bed and think about your life coming to an end.” I mean, it’s a good exercise overall. I grew up feeling that I didn’t have a very good outlet for talking about death, or that it was part of our culture. “

There’s a lot to deal with in the face of death in Ghosts, and there’s a similar openness in Feel Good as well. The second season aired with great fanfare earlier this year and has attracted a dedicated audience that has found a deep connection to its central themes. The program tackles substance abuse, grief, PTSD and codependency, but still manages to be extremely funny. “That’s what I love most about the show, the intelligence and empathy, as much as the honesty,” says Ritchie, giving all the credit to the writing of Mae Martin and their co-writer. , Joe Hampson.

“I didn’t want her to think Friends was all that mattered to us”… with Lisa Kudrow and Mae Martin in Feel Good. Photography: Matt Squire

Martin’s mother on the show was played by Lisa Kudrow. “Lisa is simply the best. She was really funny, really cool, really low key in a way that I guess I didn’t think she would be, because I have that famous American feeling, like, having an entourage. Mae made me feel like Lisa is really invested in the show, and it’s amazing, because she could choose what she wanted to do.

At first, says Ritchie, she didn’t think she should mention Friends. “I didn’t want her to think that was all that mattered to us. But obviously she knows we’ve all seen it, and that’s a big part of her life. So we ended up talking about it a bit. What I found so weird is that she hasn’t seen all of the Friends episodes, although I know them very well. So it’s quite strange that we know her show better than she does.

Ritchie and Martin lived together in a bubble while filming the series. Considering the emotional intensity of Feel Good, what was it like to be in each other’s company 24/7? “The bottom line is that we get along really well. We have known each other for quite a long time now. The two met on the outskirts of Edinburgh years ago. “And it’s really easy to spend time with Mae. We are interested in the same things and we love the same silly TV shows. And by the time you’re done with a day, you just sit down and watch something bad, like Under Deck, and then go to bed. “

On the subject of silly TV shows, Ritchie was on the brilliant Taskmaster’s latest series. She was a fan and jumped at the chance when they asked her to do so. “I loved things like, ‘You have to put a banana in a frozen jelly covered with petroleum jelly,’” she says. But she won’t come back, because only champions can return. “And I was surprisingly last, ”she said. “You have to understand it from the start and do it in style. “

She can’t talk about what’s on her mind – she’s rehearsing for something secret, “but not like a big new Hollywood movie or whatever,” and then she goes to see where the year is. leads. Will she do more comedy, or more drama? “I wish I could come up with a really offensive statement,” she sighs. “I hate comedy and I never want to do it again. But I hope, forever, a mixture.

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