Mark Gatiss to adapt MR James ghost story for Christmas

The Tractate Middoth will be accompanied by Ghost Writer, a documentary about the author, hosted by the Sherlock creator

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Mark Gatiss is taking on BBC2’s traditional festive ghost story slot this Christmas with an adaptation of The Tractate Middoth, an MR James chiller involving a disputed will, a race against time, and something very unpleasant lurking in the library.

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Gatiss will also present a documentary – with the working title Ghost Writer – exploring the mind of the enigmatic master of supernatural story-telling.

A long-time admirer of James, Gatiss will attempt to uncover how a donnish Victorian bachelor, conservative by nature and a devout Anglican, created tales that continue to frighten readers a century on.

Starting at James’s childhood home in Suffolk, Gatiss will embark on an atmospheric journey taking in ancient churches, moonlit quadrangles and echoing libraries as he visits Eton and King’s College, Cambridge, the two institutions where the writer spent most of his life and found much of his inspiration.

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Gatiss is known as the co-creator of Sherlock but also for his love of horror and his macabre wit, having been a founding member of BBC2’s League of Gentlemen, presented BBC4 documentary series A History of Horror and also penned his own 2008 collection of Christmas ghost stories, Crooked House.