The Ghosts of Motley Hall is a British children’s television series written by Richard Carpenter (who also created cult shows Catweazle and Robin of Sherwood), which was produced and directed by Quentin Lawrence for Granada Television, and broadcast between 1976 and 1978 on the ITV network.
The series relates the adventures of five ghosts who haunt stately home Motley Hall. Each ghost is from a different era and all with the exception of Matt are unable to leave the confines of the building and Matt himself is unable to travel outside the grounds of the Hall. The only regular character who is not a ghost is Mr Gudgin the caretaker of Motley Hall. Each episode sees Gudgin trying to sell the hall, only to be thwarted by the actions of the ghosts, who are keen that it should remain ‘in the family’.
The series starred a number of well-known British film and TV actors, including Freddie Jones, Arthur English, Nicolas Le Provost, Peter Sallis (Taste the Blood of Dracula, Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit) and Sheila Steafel.
Carpenter wrote a companion novel for the series for Puffin Books (also publishers of Charlie Higson) in 1977. Although virtually forgotten for many years, the series is now available on DVD through cult TV specialists Network.
Series One (1976)
- “The Last Uproar” (25 April 1976)
- “Old Gory” (2 May 1976)
- “Box of Tricks” (9 May 1976)
- “Bad Lord William and the British Banana Company” (16 May 1976)
- “Perfida Blackart Rides Again” (23 May 1976)
- “Double Trouble” (30 May 1976)
- “The Pogmore Experiment” (6 June 1976)
Series Two (1976–1977)
- “The Christmas Spirit” (24 December 1976)
- “Sir Peveril’s Hoard” (2 January 1977)
- “Where Are You, White Feather?” (9 January 1977)
- “Godfrey of Basingstoke” (16 January 1977)
- “Ghost of a Chance” (23 January 1977)
- “Horoscope” (30 January 1977)
Christmas Special (1977)
- “Phantomime” (26 December 1977)
Series Three (1978)
- “Family Tree” (29 January 1978)
- “Ghost Writer” (5 February 1978)
- “Skeleton in the Cupboard – Part 1” (12 February 1978)
- “Skeleton in the Cupboard – Part 2” (19 February 1978)
- “Party Piece” (26 February 1978)
- “Narcissus Bullock’s Bell” (5 March 1978)
“A masterclass in scriptwriting and studio acting, The Ghosts of Motley Hall has been hidden away in children’s television history behind the outwardly similar BBC series Rentaghost for far too long. It’s time for that to change though, because the ITV series is infinitely superior in every respect. Motley Hall delights in rich language and revels in its own world of ghosts who are only human after all; it pivots gracefully on tiny plots weaving them brilliantly into 25 minutes of character interaction and fun. Where Rentaghost goes for the cheap panto laugh and slapstick every time, Motley Hall will delight you with wit, energy and even drama.” Live From Mars
“Sets were minimal, special effects were simple, but the scripts and cast were spot on, making this a hugely entertaining children’s series made in the best possible spirit.” Television Heaven