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3 items from 2012

Your next box set: Ghost Stories for Christmas

30 November 2012 1:19 AM, PST | The Guardian - TV News | See recent The Guardian - TV News news »

These 70s adaptations of Mr James's creepy stories brought a distinct chill and a sense of dread to the Christmas festivities

When Jonathan Miller directed his classic BBC version of Mr James's horror story Whistle and I'll Come to You in 1968 – starring Michael Hordern as an academic who falls foul of an antique whistle with supernatural properties – few would have predicted it would be the start of one of British television's most acclaimed annual events. Each Christmas, from 1971 to 78, we were treated to a new James adaptation.

Tucked away from the more joyous yuletide celebrations in the wee small hours, A Ghost Story for Christmas gave viewers an extra winter chill, continuing a long tradition of spooky stories that undercut the seasonal cheer. Many of the tales were first told by James to nocturnal Christmas gatherings of his students in his chambers when he taught at Eton and Cambridge.

The »

- Phelim O'Neill

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DVD Review - Ghost Stories from the BBC: The Stalls of Barchester / A Warning to the Curious

20 August 2012 4:20 AM, PDT | Flickeringmyth | See recent Flickeringmyth news »

Simon Moore reviews Ghost Stories: Classic Adaptations from the BBC - Volume 2...

The Stalls of Barchester, 1971.

Directed by Lawrence Gordon Clark.

Starring Clive Swift, Will Leighton, Robert Hardy, Thelma Barlow and Harold Bennett.

A Warning to the Curious, 1972.

Directed by Lawrence Gordon Clark.

Starring Peter Vaughan, Clive Swift, Julian Herrington, John Kearney, David Cargill and George Benson.

There was an annual series in the ‘70s, called A Ghost Story for Christmas. The Stalls of Barchester really deserves a re-screening in its original slot , just before midnight on Christmas Eve. It’s a tale of dark thoughts and darker deeds, so if at all possible (or bearable), turn out all the lights in the house to put yourself in a suitably jittery state of mind.

In 1932, a library cataloguer, Dr Black (Clive Swift) delves into the mystery of a priest’s mysterious death some 50 years before. Hidden amongst the dull »

- flickeringmyth

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This week's new DVD & Blu-ray

17 August 2012 4:06 PM, PDT | The Guardian - Film News | See recent The Guardian - Film News news »

Ghost Stories: Volumes 1&2

If being scared out of your wits is what Christmas is all about for you, then blame the BBC. For most of the 1970s, and again in the 2000s, a tiny portion of the licence fee went to creating a series of short films based on the ghostly writings of the great Mr James. These were broadcast in the small hours of the festive season and made their mark not just because they weren't joining in with the more traditional fun, but because they were among the best things British television has ever produced.

The series started off in an unconventional manner, with Jonathan Miller directing a classic version of James's Whistle And I'll Come To You. Miller's film laid the template for all that followed: shot on location on film, cast one well-respected, not too famous actor – in this case Sir Michael Hordern – then heat »

- Phelim O'Neill

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