Friday, 29 August 2008

Oh, just leave it alone


It's customary for fans of ghost stories to lament how few there are being made for broadcast. However, I sometimes wonder whether people who have no real knowledge of the genre, or interest in it, should simply not touch it.

A case in point is the BBC 7 series of 30-minute dramas, Beyond the Grave. These are supposedly based upon 'real life' ghost stories - the first one concerns the house in Berkeley Square, as mentioned by M.R. James in 'A School Story'. Perhaps that's the problem - true life ghost stories are usually anecdotes of no great significance.

What's depressing about these stories is how hackneyed they seem. Over-acting is the order of the day. They're a lot like a wireless version of the early Seventies series Thriller. In two out of five plays, the plot is essentially the same! A priest/minister who wants a quiet life comes to a village where, in a surprise-free twist, pagan forces are at work. The second of these, 'Middlewitch', is almost an object lesson is lazy radio drama. It would nice if the inhabitants of a close-knit Welsh community could speak in the same accent...

It's ironic that the best treatment of the 'secret pagans' plot has no supernatural elements, but does have a lot of singing and nudity. And Edward Woodward.

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