Peter Capaldi to star in new BBC4 Christmas ghost story

Martin’s Close will reunite the former Doctor Who star with writer Mark Gatiss

Peter Capaldi in Martin's Close (BBC)

Two years after he waved goodbye to Doctor Who on Christmas Day, Peter Capaldi is set to return to the BBC for a new festive release – but this time, he’s swapping the world of time travel for a far spookier tale.

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Capaldi will star in Martin’s Close, a new one-off half-hour BBC4 drama adapted from M.R. James’ short story of the same name, which follows a 17th-century murder trial with a supernatural twist. The story has been adapted and directed for a Christmas slot by Sherlock, Doctor Who and Dracula writer/actor Mark Gatiss, who wrote several episodes of Doctor Who for Capaldi and also co-starred in his final episode in 2017.

“After the delightful success of last year’s The Dead Room, it’s a fantastic privilege to continue the tradition of the Christmas Ghost story on BBC Four – and what better than one of my favourite stories by the master of them all, M.R. James?” Gatiss said of the announcement.

“I’m delighted to welcome another of Mark Gatiss’ ghostly escapades to BBC Four after the success of last year’s The Dead Room,” added BBC4 Controller Cassian Harrison.

“With a stellar cast and a plot to send a shiver down the most resolute of spines, this is a guaranteed treat for the winter nights.”

The story follows the titular Mr Martin, a man accused of murdering a young woman with learning difficulties, with suspicion turning to him when the ghost of his victim apparently starts tormenting him and appearing to her neighbours. In his murder trial, the evidence of the ghostly apparitions ends up playing an unusually large part in proceedings, making for a strange twist on a standard legal drama.

The official synopsis can be read below:

1684. John Martin is on trial for his life. Facing him, the infamous ‘hanging Judge’, George Jeffreys. But this is not a cut and dried murder case. Because the innocent girl Martin is accused of killing has been seen after her death…

Martin’s Close is expected to air on BBC4 on Christmas Eve in the same slot as last 2018’s The Dead Room, an original ghost story by Gatiss that starred Simon Callow and Anjili Mohindra and was released to critical acclaim.

Capaldi will play Dolben, the barrister prosecuting Mr Martin for the crown, while other cast members include Game of Thrones’ Wilf Scolding as George Martin, Upstairs Downstairs’ Simon Williams as Stanton, EastEnders’ Sara Crowe as Sarah, Cucumber’s Fisayo Akinade as William, James Holmes (Miranda) as Snell and Elliot Levey as Judge George Jeffreys.

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Martin’s Close will air on BBC4 this Christmas