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BBC Ghost Stories (BFI) in August

The BFI have announced plans to make all twelve of the classic BBC films from A Ghost Story for Christmas available on DVD this year. The first two volumes, each containing a double bill of chilling tales, are released on 20 August 2012.

Volume 1 features Jonathan Miller’s Whistle and I’ll Come To You (1968) with Sir Michael Hordern, and is paired with the 2010 adaptation of the same tale starring John Hurt and directed by Andy de Emmony.

Extras include:

  • Jonathan Miller and Christopher Frayling discuss Whistle and I’ll Come to You (BBC, 2012, 3 mins)
  • MR James’ original story, ‘Oh Whistle and I’ll Come to You, My Lad’, read by Neil Brand (2001, 42 mins)
  • Introduction to Whistle and I’ll Come to You by horror writer Ramsey Campbell (2001, 16 mins)
  • Ramsey Campbell reads his own MR James inspired story ‘The Guide’ (2001, 27 mins)

Volume 2 features The Stalls of Barchester (1971), starring Robert Hardy - receiving its DVD premiere - and A Warning to the Curious (1972) with Peter Vaughan, both directed by Lawrence Gordon Clark.

Extras include:
  • Introduction to The Stalls of Barchester by Lawrence Gordon Clark (2012, 10 mins)
  • Introduction to A Warning to the Curious by Lawrence Gordon Clark (2012, 12 mins)
  • Ghost Stories for Christmas with Christopher Lee – ‘The Stalls of Barchester by MR James’ (Eleanor Yule, 2000, 30 mins): Christopher Lee recreates MR James’ famous soirees, at which the antiquary would read his tales of the supernatural to eager undergraduates.
  • Ghost Stories for Christmas with Christopher Lee – ‘A Warning to the Curious by MR James’ (Eleanor Yule, 2000, 30 mins): Christopher Lee plays MR James in this dramatic reconstruction of one of the author’s famous Christmas readings.

Each volume also includes an illustrated booklet.

As a Christmas treat during the 1970s, the BBC screened adaptations of the classic ghost stories of MR James, the Cambridge academic and author of some of the most spine-tingling tales in the English language. Most of the instalments, which were broadcast to terrified viewers in the dead of winter, were directed by Lawrence Gordon Clark, who has been interviewed for new introductions on these BFI releases.

The release of the first two Ghost Stories volumes is timed to mark the 150th anniversary of MR James’ birth on 1 August 1862.

With only three of the twelve tales previously released on DVD (by the BFI in 2002 and long since deleted), the films in this series have been high on many film and TV fans' 'most wanted' DVD lists.

Two more volumes, the first containing Lost Hearts, The Treasure of Abbot Thomas and The Ash Tree, and the second containing The Signalman (Andrew Davies’ adaptation of the Charles Dickens story) Stigma (written by Clive Exton) and The Ice House (written by John Bowen), will follow in September, while the fifth and final volume, containing the more recent instalments View from a Hill and Number 13, as well as a complete Ghost Stories for Christmas box set, will be released in October.

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