John Hurt is to star in the new BBC ghost story for Christmas. I'm quite pleased. Except, of course, that 'Whistle and I'll Come to You' has been adapted before. And Jonathan Miller's black and white 'Omnibus' drama, starring Michael Hordern, is pretty damn good. So we have two great British actors vying to 'do' Professor Parkins. I wonder if Neil Cross, who's scripting the new one, has read the original story? Because MR James clearly says that Parkins is a young man. Oh well.
But why not make a TV drama from a good literary ghost story that has yet to be adapted? Some thoughts off the top of my head:
'Thurnley Abbey' by Perceval Landon - a bit crazy, this one, but fun, and needs a young cast. Also, great scope for dead nun FX, which is always a plus.
'Man Size in Marble' by Edith Nesbit - cruel, 'modern' story with a good payoff. Perhaps a bit too simple and predictable, but the setting is atmosphere.
'The Room in the Tower' by E.F. Benson - one of those between-the-wars jobs, with a good atmospheric dream-horror feel. Scope for imaginative direction.
'The Seventeenth Hole at Duncaster' by H.R. Wakefield - again, pre-war, but more 'realistic', and the golfing theme is nice and quaint. Slightly weak ending, perhaps.
'All Hallows' by Walter de la Mare - tricky one to film, perhaps, with just two characters talking. But weird stuff occurs and again FX of a subtle sort might be rather neat.
And that's before we consider MR James stories yet to be adapted. 'Count Magnus' and 'Wailing Well' both strike me as eminently scary and suited to a nice winter's evening on BBC2.