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article imageSherlock stars team up for Christmas ghost story

By Mathew Wace Peck     Sep 19, 2013 in Entertainment
Two of the stars from “Sherlock”, the BBC’s modern-day interpretation of Arthur Conan Doyle’s Victorian detective, are to appear this Christmas for a new adaptation of a classic ghost story.
Mark Gatiss – who plays Mycroft Holmes, brother to Sherlock Holmes, in Sherlock – has adapted MR James’s The Tractate Middoth, for screening on BBC Two this Christmas.
Meanwhile, Una Stubbs will appear in the leading role. In Sherlock, Stubbs plays Sherlock’s landlady, Mrs Hudson.
Gatiss is a long-time enthusiast of ghost stories and, in 2008, wrote and appeared in Crooked House, which was commissioned by BBC Four. He’s made no secret of wanting to do more.
Speaking to Radio Times about The Tractate Middoth, the 46-year-old said, “The wonderful adaptations of MR James’s tales that I saw on TV as a child have been a lasting inspiration to me.”
Indeed, in the 1970s, ghost stories were a traditional part of television programming on the BBC.
Gatiss, who will also direct the 30-minute drama is enthusiastic about their return. “I’m delighted to restore the tradition of a ‘BBC Ghost Story for Christmas’,” he said, “and bring to life a personal favourite – The Tractate Middot – one of James’s most atmospheric, thrilling, and downright scary tales.”
James’s The Tractate Middot tells the tale of terrifying spirits brought to an academic library as a result of two men going through an ancient Hebrew text.
Other cast members include Roy Barraclough (who played Alec Gilroy in Coronation Street), Eleanor Bron (Absolutely Fabulous), Nick Burns (Nathan Barley), John Castle (I, Claudius) Sacha Dhawan (An Adventure in Space and Time), Louise Jameson, who is best remembered for playing Leela, a companion to the Fourth Doctor (Tom Baker) in Doctor Who, and David Ryall (The Village).
On a related note, the Independent reports that Gatiss is also working on a documentary about the MR James, which will also air during the Christmas period.
Speaking to the paper recently, the BBC’s commissioning editor for arts, Mark Bell, said, “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.”
Also for BBC Two, Gatiss has written a 90-minute drama, An Adventure in Space and Time, for broadcast this November. It tells the story of the creation and early days of Doctor Who, the BBC’s iconic science-fiction drama series that this year celebrates its 50th anniversary.
A writer, director and presenter, Gatiss is as well-known for his acting roles, both on stage and screen. Before Sherlock, he was one of The League of Gentlemen and has appeared several times in Doctor Who. In July, it was announced that he would be joining the cast of HBO’s Game of Thrones, in which he play Tycho Nestoris, a representative of the Iron Bank of Braavos, his agent, Curtis Brown, recently revealed.
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