Ghosts In The Machine

Miles Hamer puts on his brave face to look at the best and worst TV ghosts.



Ghosts - just what is their problem? Wafting about with no physical presence, moaning to all and sundry about their trapped spirits, hiding car keys (probably). They're an affront to all decent dead folk who know how to pass-on properly. New BBC3 drama The Fades is packed full of the creepy buggers, but they're going to have to work their white sheets off if they want to stand alongside these spooky spectres of the small screen.



Who? Marty Hopkirk

From? Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased)

Vision? White suit, bewilderment


A dead detective cursed to wander the earth for 100 years, Marty Hopkirk is one persistent private eye, choosing his occasionally baffled and frequently volatile partner, Jeff Randall, as the only person in the living world who can interact with him. What with his over-zealous work ethic, lack of visibility and disinterest in the spirit world, he's less a ghost, more a dullard nobody wants to notice.




Who? Casper McFadden

From? Various Casper series

Vision? Bubble-headed anthropomorphic sperm


Wide-eyed pre-teen on the wrong side of the afterlife, Casper's a curiously cheerful soul given his predicament. As menacing as a kitten with its legs broken, he's all about the caring, and nothing about the scaring. A misguided early entry in the series shows him attempting suicide by sitting on some train tracks and bracing himself as a train hurtles through his wispy body.



Annie Sawyer

Who? Annie Sawyer

From? Being Human

Vision? Mixed-race twenty-something in a grey cardigan


Tragic Annie's neuroses and her innate affability prevent her from being too threatening, although in certain circumstances will rise to the chilling challenge. Just ask her murderer and ex-boyfriend Owen, who she turned into a gibbering wreck by the power of speech alone (she probably just quoted a Horne & Corden sketch to the poor bastard). We nearly nominated the same series' Gilbert, the Morrissey-loving grumpy bones who, as it turned out, just needed a bit of a cuddle.




Who? Slimer

From? The Real Ghostbusters

Vision? Amorphous green blob


Quite why the eponymous phantom-hunters would choose to hang around with an IQ-shy floating torso of idiocy is anyone's guess, but Slimer is as much of the team as Peter Venkman, Egon Spengler or, er, one of the other two. He doesn't do any haunting, unless scoffing obscene amounts of food and giggling like a schoolboy in the bottom set for everything, suddenly counts as spectral behaviour. He doesn't do any busting either, which means he'll either go the way of the proton pack or the P45 one of these days.



Yetta Feldman

Who? Yetta Feldman

From? So Haunt Me

Vision? Elderly Jewish lady


In this laugh-a-series comedy, Tessa Peake-Jones (Raquel off've Only Fools & Horses) and George Costigan (him off've everything) aren't so much spooked as consistently pestered by an interfering spirit of their home's previous occupant. Mrs Feldman's a busybody banshee who makes witless quips in lieu of scaring-the-shit. What haunts us is how this stretched to three series; even Wikipedia considered its entry on their site a waste of good hard drive.



Timothy Claypole

Who? Timothy Claypole

From? Rentaghost

Vision? Kenny Everett in a jester's outfit


Mischief-making corporeal clown Claypole is a vivacious kind of ghoul. A poltergeist with great power but an impish sense of fun and absurdity, he eventually becomes the iconic focal point around which the business revolves. OK, so he's about as scary as a Vauxhall Corsa, but thankfully a lot more fun than driving one, and someone you wouldn't mind being haunted by, providing he came with an off switch.




Who? Pipes

From? Ghostwatch

Vision? Barely-glimpsed baldie


The BBC's notorious and fictitious documentary made a nation shit its collective pants on first sight of cat-loving, child-abusing Mr Pipes. Terrorising the inhabitants of a suburban semi, Pipes was revealed within the unfolding terror as Raymond Tunstall, a mentally-disturbed badass who not only locks Sarah Greene in a cupboard, but possesses Yorkshire chatterbox Michael Parkinson. Not until Red Dwarf's Back to Earth, would the prospect of Craig Charles playing himself prove quite so terrifying.



Thelma Bates

Who? Thelma Bates

From? Hex

Vision? Pouty Witch


Cassie's roommate and not-so-secret admirer, Thelma's main priorities are revenge on Azazeal (her killer) and eating. All of which leaves little time for terrorising. Which is probably for the best 'cos, like, the bitch has issues man.





Miles Hamer



Ghosts in the Machine
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