The CBS sitcom “Ghosts” is based on a popular BBC series. I was a fan of the British version (which is streaming on HBO Max if you want to check it out) and wasn’t sure if the new one would do it justice. But I was pleasantly surprised to tune in and find it as much fun as the original!
They have some notable differences, but the premise of the CBS show is the same: after a young couple inherits a grand old mansion from a long-lost relative, they decide to fix it up and turn it into a Bed and Breakfast. But after the wife takes a fall and has a near-death experience, she can suddenly see dead people. And there are a lot of them living in the house.
At first the ghosts disapprove of the new homeowners and want to scare them off, but when they realize Samantha is able to communicate with them, they decide it may be worthwhile to let them stay after all.
The house plays such a central role in the show that I was curious about where it was filmed. Read on to find out what I learned about it, as well as the mansion they used in the original BBC series!
The Haunted House in the CBS Sitcom “Ghosts”
Rose McIver (who you may recognize from iZombie) plays Samantha, who is horrified to realize that Woodstone Estate is filled with ghosts.
Utkarsh Ambudkar (from Never Have I Ever) plays her husband Jay, who is baffled to find her talking to empty rooms.
The ghosts include a cast of characters who have died on the estate over hundreds of years and aren’t thrilled by the idea of interlopers moving in and turning the place into a B&B.
In the original trailer, the attorney showed Samantha and Jay a photo of the country house, and it looked like this (below):
They filmed the pilot at a famous mansion in Pasadena, California.
After that, Distractify reports that production moved to Montreal.
The exterior of the house we see onscreen was built (interior sets were created on a soundstage).
When you stream the episode now, this one is shown (below):
They probably didn’t expect some of us (ahem) to pay such close attention.
They clearly haven’t met us! 😉
Woodstone Estate looked pretty good in the photo. But when Samantha and Jay pull up to it, they’re greeted by a house with a sagging roof, covered in overgrown vines (below):
They seem to be using some CGI/special effects to cover the exterior in ivy and make it look older.
The house where they filmed the first episode in Pasadena has been used in other movies like “Bridesmaids:”
You may also recognize it as Wayne Manor from the “Batman” series in the 1960s.
Here’s a screenshot I took of it in the episode “He Meets His Match, the Grisly Ghoul:”
Although they removed the front exterior shots from the pilot episode, a scene filmed in back remains (screenshot below):
Here’s how the same patio looked in “Bridesmaids” (below):
The mansion is located at 380 S. San Rafael Avenue in Pasadena, California.
It has over 16,000 square feet with 10 bedrooms and 6 baths.
You can see the full list of movies and TV shows filmed at this house on Movie Maps, including “Alias,” “The X Files,” “The Campaign,” and “Murder, She Wrote.”
They didn’t even really try to replicate the look of the real house for the series. It’s no longer brick and the turrets are gone (below):
Here’s another example of how the houses were swapped out after the original trailer and promotional materials were sent out. (Note: it may have even originally aired this way, but since I streamed the show on Hulu I’m not sure.)
When Jay and Samantha arrived at the house for the first time, the camera pans up and we see the second story of the house where they filmed in Pasadena, with vines added digitally to make it look like it’s been neglected (below):
If you stream that episode now, the camera shows the stone house they created in Montreal instead (TV magic!):
Button House in the Original BBC Series
In the original “Ghosts” series, they filmed on location in Surrey at West Horsley Place, using not only the exterior of the 15th-century house but the interior rooms, as well.
The haunted manor is called Button House in the British version.
The interiors of the house were also used as a filming location for the 2020 Netflix movie “Enola Holmes.”
You can see photos of how the interiors look at Surrey Live.
There are three seasons of the original series that you can watch on HBO Max. Although the premise is the same, there are different types of ghosts and situations that arise.
For instance, Alison (who is called Samantha in the U.S. version), doesn’t trip and fall down the stairs in the pilot — she’s apparently pushed by one of the ghosts out a window. The result is the same, however: after her near-death experience, she is able to see dead people.
The ghosts in the cellar’s “plague pit” are played by the same actors as the ghosts upstairs.
They’re in different costumes, hair and makeup, so I didn’t catch it at first!
It’s fun to see them playing such different characters in the BBC sitcom:
In true British form, the seasons are very short, with only 6 episodes in each.
By contrast, the first season of the CBS sitcom will have 20 episodes.
Woodstone Estate on the CBS Sitcom
According to an article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
“Ghosts” features a Victorian-style mansion whose interiors and exteriors are an amalgamation of a real home in Los Angeles and sound stages in Montreal.
The house was inspired by the Baker Mansion, a 19th-century structure built on a hill in Altoona.
Also of note: The mansion was originally owned by Elias and Hetty Baker, names that Joe Port (who adapted it for American television) lifted for the spectral character of Hetty, played by York native Rebecca Wisocky, and her oft-mentioned husband Elias.
They created the interior of the house with elaborate sets on a soundstage.
The Front Parlor
In the BBC version, the ghost soldier called “Captain” died in World War II.
In this one, Isaac (played by Brandon Scott Jones) was in the Revolutionary War.
There are British soldiers living in a nearby shed.
The kitchen is one of my favorite sets on the show.
In the BBC version, there’s the spirit of a caveman living on the property.
In the CBS sitcom, the oldest ghost is Thorfinn, a Viking played by Devan Long:
Utkarsh Ambudkar is hilarious as the slightly hapless husband Jay, who’s at a disadvantage because he can’t see the ghosts his wife is talking to.
Samantha and Jay’s Bedroom
I believe some scenes for the pilot episode may have been filmed on location inside the Pasadena house, like the one shown above.
In later episodes Jay and Samantha’s bedroom looks like this (below):
You can often tell a difference in real-house hardwood floors and the fake wood they use for sets.
The bathroom looks pretty authentic with its peeling vintage wallpaper and a freestanding tub, but it’s also a set:
In a flashback to 1983 we see the house looking a bit different in the distance, which is puzzling:
Update: I’m told this is the other side of the house that we don’t typically see.
“That’s the true front of the house, with what we usually see on the show being the back side. All the exterior shots are an actual house, all interior is a set. For the shot above they used a little camera magic to hide a road.” (Thanks, Anon!)
A few episodes later we get this aerial view showing the front of the house:
Asher Grodman, who plays the ghost named Trevor, told CBS Denver:
“The first time I read this script, I said this is one of the funniest things I’ve ever read. I knew it was different and I knew it was special. We were supposed to shoot the pilot in March 2020 on a Monday and the world shut down on the Friday before. In terms of the ensemble, we were all living in limbo for a year and a half and all of us just got really close.”
He adds, “They rebuilt this house in Montreal and the attention to detail is incredible.”
I took these screenshots while watching the episodes online.
Have you been watching “Ghosts”? You can catch new episodes airing on CBS on Thursday nights (or stream it on Hulu with a subscription). You can also watch three seasons of the original BBC sitcom on HBO Max.
P.S. It was 14 years ago this month that I started blogging about houses. Back in 2008, I couldn’t find any sites talking about TV and movie houses that I wanted to know more about, so I decided to write about them myself. Many thanks to the readers who have kept coming back year after year — I wouldn’t still be here without you! -Julia 🙂
Visit my TV & Movie Houses page to see more filming locations I’ve featured,
including the house from “The Haunting of Bly Manor.”