Una Stubbs, Roy Barraclough and Louise Jameson are to star in a new BBC Two Christmas ghost story being written and directed by Doctor Who and Sherlock writer Mark Gatiss.
The trio will be joined by Sacha Dhawan (Last Tango In Halifax), John Castle (I, Claudius), David Ryall (The Village); Eleanor Bron (Bedazzled, Women In Love, Absolutely Fabulous) and Nick Burns (Nathan Barley)
The Tractate Middoth is a half-hour adaptation of MR James’s short story and sees the return of the traditional Christmas ghost story to BBC Two after a three year break.
In a quiet academic library, John Eldred (Castle) seeks out the help of young Mr Garrett (Dhawan) in his search for a seemingly obscure Hebrew text.
But there is something unusual about this book and something not entirely scholarly about Eldred’s intentions. Soon, Garrett’s hunt for the Tractate Middoth provokes terrifying apparitions in the library and a vengeful menace from beyond the grave.
The drama will be complemented by a documentary, MR James: Ghost Writer (w/t) in which Gatiss, a long-time admirer of the author, Gatiss will explore how this donnish Victorian bachelor, conservative by nature and a devout Anglican, created tales that continue to chill readers more than a century on.
Viewers will join Gatiss on an atmospheric journey from James’s childhood home in Suffolk to Eton College and on to King’s College, Cambridge, the two institutions where James spent most of his life, venturing into ancient churches, dark cloisters and echoing libraries along the way.
Mark Gatiss says: “The wonderful adaptations of MR James’s tales that I saw on TV as a child have been a lasting inspiration to me. I’m delighted to restore the tradition of a BBC ‘Ghost Story for Christmas’ and bring to life a personal favourite – The Tractate Middoth – one of James’s most atmospheric, thrilling, and downright scary tales.”
Mark Bell, Commissioning Editor for Arts, says: “In his ghost stories MR James displays a beguiling mixture of dry wit, singular erudition and a joyful enthusiasm for the macabre. Mark Gatiss shares the same attributes and it is tremendously exciting to be working on both a new drama and a documentary investigation of what made this great British eccentric tick.”