Sacha Dhawan (Last Tango In Halifax, Being Human; The History Boys), John Castle (I, Claudius), Louise Jameson (Doctor Who, Doc Martin) and Una Stubbs (Sherlock, Til Death Do Us Part) will star in The Tractate Middoth, a brand new drama for BBC Two this Christmas.
They will be joined in the cast by David Ryall (The Village); Eleanor Bron (Bedazzled, Women In Love, Absolutely Fabulous); Nick Burns (Nathan Barley) and Roy Barraclough (Coronation Street).
Written and directed by Mark Gatiss – his directorial debut – this new half-hour drama is a chilling adaptation of MR James’s short story and will see a return of the cherished ghost story to BBC Two at Christmas.
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.
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.”
The drama will be complemented by a documentary, MR James: Ghost Writer (w/t) in which Mark Gatiss steps into the mind of MR James, the enigmatic English master of the supernatural story. A long-time admirer of James, Mark 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 Mark 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. By following in James’s footsteps, Mark will attempt to uncover the secrets of his inspiration.