It didn’t take much to get “Ghosts” star Utkarsh Ambudkar to sign onto the CBS sitcom, which is an American version of a U.K. series by the same name.
“I watched 90 seconds of the U.K. series and laughed in the first 90 seconds and then I turned it off. And then I said, ‘I think this would be a fun show to do,’” he told TheWrap. And the rest is history, so they say.
“Ghosts” follows a New York City couple who move to the countryside after inheriting an old estate, which they decide to turn into a bed and breakfast. However, they soon discover the mansion is inhabited by the ghosts of past residents. Ambudkar plays Jay, who can’t see the ghosts like his wife Sam (Rose McIver) can, but quickly takes her word for it when she says the place is haunted.
That’s one of the aspects of Jay that makes the character (and the show) so special, according to Ambudkar.
“It’s so fun right?” he said. “He believes her and he has her back and he’s really passionate about this world and the mythology of the ghosts and what it means to be a ghost. I mean, really, he wishes that it had happened to him and not Sam because he’s way more equipped for the experience in his own mind than she would be. The whole first season could have just been Sam trying to convince Jay that the ghosts are real. But we get past that in the first episode. He’s just like cool, they’re real. Now what?”
Well, that’s when the shenanigans begin. Each episode is filled with clever situations that put both the ghosts and the livings (as they’re referred to in the series) to the test. From learning how to use modern technology to confronting people from their past, the ghosts quickly find themselves on a journey of self-growth, even in the afterlife.
The heartwarming and often hilarious episodes make for the perfect family-friendly sitcom — which there are far less of these days.
“We’re here to just give you a little boost to joy and get you through, there’s no Squid Games here. And I love that stuff too, but there’s some people who have enough weight in their lives. They don’t need any more darkness,” Ambudkar said. “That’s where we come in and it’s also something we can all watch together.”
That’s actually his favorite part, he added. “It really seems to be one of those old school sit down with your whole family and watch every Thursday night kind of shows and that’s really special to be a part of.”
In fact, at the time of our chat, he told me: “Last night, my father in law, my mother in law, my dad, my mom, my wife, my dog, my seven-year-old and my two-year-old and I all watched ‘Ghosts’ together because they’re from New Zealand and they hadn’t watched it yet. How many other things can you put on where that many different age groups can actually sit and watch and engage for two episodes without somebody complaining or falling asleep?”
The Season 1 premiere of “Ghosts” became the most-watched broadcast comedy premiere of the television season. It ran a triumphant 22 episodes that easily secured an average of 8 million live + same day viewers each week — and even secured the attention of stars like Mark Hamill.
Since the series shoots in Montreal, Ambudkar said he didn’t realize how well received it was until he returned to the States.
“Rose and I flew back through Michigan and at the Michigan airport, we sat down for lunch together and the whole staff of the restaurant came over and took pictures with us because of how much they love ‘Ghosts,'” he said. “And then I got home and I was running with my son in the neighborhood and a neighbor was like ‘Hey, you’re on ‘Ghosts.’ Welcome to the neighborhood.’ I’ve been living in the neighborhood for several years, but I mean, we’re starting to get noticed, which is cool.”
Season 1 of “Ghosts” comes to an end Thursday night, but fans of the sitcom don’t need to worry too much, as the series has already been renewed for a sophomore season.
And obviously, Hamill is on everyone’s mind as a potential guest star. As Ambudkar puts it: “If we could get Master Skywalker, to come to the mansion for whatever reason, that would be so cool.”