Foreign Countries #27: The Woman in Black (1989)

Nigel Kneale had an impressive career. Interviewed by the BBC when he died, Mark Gatiss referred to him as the man who invented popular television and it’s a sentiment that’s hard to argue with. His collaborations with Rudolph Cartier brought about the first proper serial for television with The Quatermass Experiment (1953), The Year of … Continue reading Foreign Countries #27: The Woman in Black (1989)

Foreign Countries #26: Quatermass and the Pit (1958/9)

This is a revised version of a post that first appeared on Room 207 Press in 2018. I originally wrote this as the Windrush scandal enveloped the United Kingdom. The controversy of the deportation of British citizens who emigrated from the Caribbean brought down the then Home Secretary, although many lay the blame at the … Continue reading Foreign Countries #26: Quatermass and the Pit (1958/9)

Foreign Countries #25: Dramarama: Spooky: The Keeper (1983)

I'm writing this post in the shadow of Orford Castle on the Suffolk coast. Built sometime between 1165 and 1173 to consolidate Henry II's power in East Anglia, it's probably best known these days for its uniquely designed keep but readers with an interest in such matters may know it more from the climax of Witchfinder … Continue reading Foreign Countries #25: Dramarama: Spooky: The Keeper (1983)

Foreign Countries #24: Scully (1984) and Mark McGann Interview

There was much faux outrage at Liverpool fans' booing of the national anthem in this season's Community Shield match but it wasn't much of a surprise. Liverpudlians can give a list of reasons, historical, cultural and political why they feel estranged from the rest of England, and fans of other teams once again paint the … Continue reading Foreign Countries #24: Scully (1984) and Mark McGann Interview

Foreign Countries #23: Mystery and Imagination: Sweeney Todd (1970)

Anyone who watched the recent series The Yorkshire Ripper Files: A Very British Crime Story (2019) will know how misogynistic assumptions can hamper an investigation and an obsession with the killer can reduce their victims to statistics and social judgement that puts part of the blame on to themselves. After all, society says, what were … Continue reading Foreign Countries #23: Mystery and Imagination: Sweeney Todd (1970)

Foreign Countries #22: Miss Morison’s Ghosts (1981)

Have you seen The Mercy (2017)? The true story of hubris, pressure and the tragic pride of Donald Crowhurt's disastrous attempt to complete the Sunday Times Golden Globe Race in 1968 that was made into an extremely dull film. The documentary Deep Water (1996) tells the same story in a far more effective way, using … Continue reading Foreign Countries #22: Miss Morison’s Ghosts (1981)

Crossing Miller’s: Re-evaluating Whistle and I’ll Come to You (2010)

I’ve previously talked about how any adaptation must serve the strengths of the medium ahead of a slavish retelling of the source text. But the elastic that connects Neil Cross’s adaptation to M.R. James’s most famous tale is stretched pretty much to breaking point. I was largely dismissive of this production upon initial broadcast; too … Continue reading Crossing Miller’s: Re-evaluating Whistle and I’ll Come to You (2010)

Foreign Countries Christmas Special: A Ghost Story for Christmas: The Dead Room (2018)

The latest effort in the on/off revival of the BBC's A Ghost Story for Christmas turns back to another original piece by Mark Gatiss. A slightly hammy, over-the-hill actor, Aubrey Judd (Simon Callow) reads ghost stories for the radio in the style of Appointment with Fear (1943-55) and its various successors. As he reads the … Continue reading Foreign Countries Christmas Special: A Ghost Story for Christmas: The Dead Room (2018)

Foreign Countries #21: Play for Today: Brimstone and Treacle (1976/1987)

The visitation drama has formed a lasting sub-genre in plays and it's not hard to see why, a stranger intruding in a home/family unit is both a simple and effective dramatic device. It is also straightforward and relatively cheap to stage. Nikolai Gogol's The Government Inspector (1836) and An Inspector Calls (1945) by JB Priestley … Continue reading Foreign Countries #21: Play for Today: Brimstone and Treacle (1976/1987)

Foreign Countries #20: West Country Tales: The Breakdown/The Beast (1982)

When I was ten, my parents moved us from urban Essex to rural Norfolk. I spent my adolescent years wishing I was as far away from this new county as I could get, lazily describing the reason for this as simple boredom. Nothing ever happened in a Norfolk village that would interest a proud urbanite … Continue reading Foreign Countries #20: West Country Tales: The Breakdown/The Beast (1982)