John Hannah Interview

John Hannah

Q: Are you pleased to be back on the set of Marley's Ghosts?

A: Absolutely. This is such a lovely ensemble. We have this great feeling of creating something terrific together - and that's why it's such a delight to be back. When you first do something, you don't necessarily know if it works. But when you come back to it, you know how it works - and that makes everything easier. We had the same experience on The Mummy. This a wonderful job!

Q: Why did the first series of Marley's Ghosts chime so much with audiences?

A: It struck such a chord because it takes a ridiculous premise and turns it into a human dilemma. Above all, people loved it because it's just great fun!

Q: What are the characters up to at the beginning of the second series?

A: Marley has moved house - with all her ghosts. She had to move because the neighbours heard her talking to herself and thought she was mad! She has cashed in Adam's life insurance to help pay for the new house. It's a good idea - it's just that Adam had to die in order to make it happen. We've all got to make sacrifices, but Adam had to make the make biggest!

Q: How would you describe Adam?

A: He had been successful, but his business went downhill very quickly. He had a video store and got left behind when DVDs were introduced. Suddenly everything went down the drain. He was very disappointed with his life and started drinking.

Q: Why do viewers relate to Adam?

A: As you get to a certain age, you start to consider what might have happened in your life. Marley's Ghosts is about the human condition, but the key thing is that's also really funny. Like all the best comedy, it's based on someone in pain. I don't mean characters getting a custard pie in the face or being hit on the head with a ladder - it's more credible than that. We get vicarious pleasure from watching other people suffering!

Q: How have you found it working with Sarah Alexander?

A: It's amazing. She has great energy. She cares about every aspect of the production, but not in an egotistical way. She's inspiring and funny and beautiful and lovely. That goes for Jo and Nick, too. I'm just along for the ride! I just have to say the lines and not bump into the furniture - although as a ghost, I can't bump into the furniture anyway!

Q: Why does the set-up of three ghosts who can only be seen by Marley work so well?

A: Because the ghosts are constantly frustrated. Their progression stops when they're dead and they're just stuck on a hamster wheel of neurosis of their own making! The show plays with the idea that the three ghosts are real people with real needs that they're unable to fulfil. Being dead doesn't stop you wanting things. It's all about impotence.

Q: How does the ghosts' presence in her home affect Marley?

A: She is trying to move on, but it's difficult because we're still there. We're very reluctant to let her move on, but we can't do anything about it.

Q: How do the ghosts react to the news that Marley would like to start dating again?

A: They're not very happy about it, as you can imagine! Adam's life hasn't turned out as he'd hoped, especially as he's now dead. That certainly wasn't planned! Now he's having to come to terms with his wife contemplating having a lover. It's a very human story - in a dead sort of way!

Q: Why does Marley's Ghosts seem like such a timeless comedy?

A: Because it's harking back to Charlie Chaplin and Malvolio in Twelfth Night - comic characters in pain, which we all love to watch. It's always nice to see calamities happening to someone else. That particularly appeals to us Brits. We love a bit of Schadenfreude. I know that's a German word - oh, the irony of it! When people talk about the TV programmes they've really enjoyed watching last night, I'm sure this will be one of them. I think it's a joy to watch!