Saturday, 24 November 2012

The Secret of Crickley Hall

Joe Ahearne, best known to genre fans for his excellent Eighties series Ultraviolet, directs a brand-new adaptation of a James Herbert novel for the BBC. All a bit of a surprise to me, as I'd always assumed that Herbert is not the sort of modern novelist who sets pulses racing at the Beeb. But I have to say that The Secret of Crickley Hall is rather good. At least, the first episode proved sufficiently well-crafted and absorbing to keep me guessing and watching.

Telling two linked stories set in the present day and World War 2, the first episode managed to dodge the clich├ęs of the genre yet also captured the authentic atmosphere of the traditional supernatural tale. Put simply, something bad happened to a nice family (no spoilers here) and this terrible event shaped the characters' reactions to strange occurrences at their new home. The cast is strong; David Warner and Douglas Henshall both get to play against type, and its nice to see youngsters like Maisie Williams (Arya in Game of Thrones) given credible characters. Indeed, there wasn't a false note in the first hour; it was an effective drama which happened to involve paranormal events.

All in all, it's heartening to see the BBC make a short serial solidly rooted in the great tradition of British ghostly fiction and put it on at 9pm on a Sunday. If this heralds a newfound enthusiasm for this sort of drama... Well, let's not get carried away.

No comments: