Wednesday, 1 September 2010

The New Greyish Whistle Test

Hmmm. I learn that M.R. James' ghost story 'Oh Whistle and I'll Come to You, My Lad' is being adapted for television this Christmas. But will it be good, mediocre or pants?

Called Whistle and I’ll Come to You, it is being written by Neil Cross and directed by Andy de Emmony.
The BBC said the drama “will be a cinematic, moody, poignant and unsettlingly spooky addition to the Christmas schedules”.
Both dramas have been commissioned for the channel by the BBC’s controller of drama commissioning Ben Stephenson.

The BBC has already made a version of the story. Now, Jonathan Miller's black and white version is a bit of a divisive thing, or Thing. Some MRJ fans love it (I certainly do) while others feel Miller took too many liberties with the character of Parkins and the overall plot. It's certainly a fairly free adaptation in some respects, but the central story remains sound enough.

As I understand it Neil Cross is the writer of Luther, a TV cop show that I've never watched, and also wrote for Spooks, the spy drama. I'm not sure that either requires the kind of subtlety, wit and imagination that one expects in a ghost story. Director Andy de Emmony has a long and impressive list of credits but again it's stuff like 'Filth! The Mary Whitehouse Story', which to me verges on mechanically recovered meat for the brain.

Also, why a story that's been done by a distinguished writer/director already? What about 'Count Magnus', 'Canon Alberic' or  - here's a crazy thought - something by another writer? Munby, Malden, Swain, Northcote, Caldecott - even crazier, what about a good ghost story by a modern writer like David G. Rowlands? Or Steve Duffy?

Well, we know why already - the name recognition factor is the only way to get the dim 14-year-olds who now run TV on board. As one experienced script writer observed on FB.

For the same reason they remake Day of the Triffids for the *fifth* time. And a new vanity Fair coming soon.


Steve said...

I'm pleased that the BBC are doing another James tale this year. I wasn't very keen on their versions of Number 13 or A View From A Hill at all though, so I'm hoping that they don't mess this one up!

Thornavis said...

I expect they will mess it up, it will probably be a 'Freudian' take, like that very poor version of 'The Turn of the Screw' last year.

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