It doesn’t quite feel like a proper BBC Christmas without a ghost story from Mark Gatiss, so it’s happy news indeed that the writer/director is adapting another MR James short story.
The Mezzotint – based on James’ 1904 tale – has actually already completed filming and will be available to watch on BBC Two and BBC iPlayer this December.
Promising “a chill in the air for viewers this Christmas”, a synopsis for the one-off drama reads: “It’s 1922 and in the heart of an old English college, Edward Williams receives an engraving of an unknown country house. An imposing facade. A sweeping lawn. And, just perhaps, something else…?”
Starring in The Mezzotint will be Rory Kinnear (Years & Years, No Time To Die) as Williams, Robert Bathurst (Cold Feet) as Garwood, and Frances Barber (Doctor Who) as Mrs Ambrigail, with John Hopkins (Poldark), Emma Cunniffe (Roadkill), Nikesh Patel (Indian Summers), and Tommaso Di Vincenzo (Dracula) also featuring in the cast.
The adaptation follows the success of Gatiss’ previous Christmas stories, all of which aired on BBC Four – including screen versions of MR James’ Martin’s Close in 2019 and The Tractate Middoth in 2013, and Gatiss’ own original stories The Dead Room in 2018 and Crooked House in 2008.
Martin’s Close, which starred Peter Capaldi, became BBC Four’s most watched programme of 2019, with final viewing figures of 1.5 million.
“It’s delightful to be bringing a little seasonal unease to the nation once again and this famous MR James story is just the ticket,” Gatiss said. “We’ve assembled a top-notch team to bring this eerie mystery – and a certain enigmatic old picture – to life.”
Piers Wenger, Director of BBC Drama, added: “I’m delighted that Mark Gatiss has assembled such an outstanding cast to conjure up another unmissable ghost story for BBC Two and iPlayer this Christmas. The Mezzotint is classic MR James, and the perfect slice of horror to thrill us this festive season.”
Spanning 30 minutes and filmed in the South of England, The Mezzotint was written and directed by Gatiss, with Isibeal Ballance serving as producer and Ben Irving acting as executive producer for the BBC. The drama was made by Can Do Productions and Adorable Media.