It looks like Mark Gatiss has a busy Christmas in store this year – as well as bringing MR James’ ghost story The Mezzotint to BBC Two, the actor and writer will also be directing and starring in the new Sky Original drama The Amazing Mr Blunden.
Filming has already begun on the one-off 90-minute special, with Gatiss set to star alongside Four Weddings and A Funeral star Simon Callow and Friday Night Dinner’s Tamsin Greig.
Based on the 1972 family film of the same name – and the 1969 novel The Ghosts from which it was adapted – the programme follows London teenagers Jamie and Lucy Allen after the arrival of the titular Mr Blunden, who offers their mother the chance to become the caretaker of a haunted country house.
The official synopsis reads, “Jamie and Lucy have an encounter with what appears to be a pair of ghost children. But these spooky kids, Sara and Georgie, aren’t actually ghosts. They’ve travelled forwards in time to seek help, believing they’re going to be murdered by the wicked Mr and Mrs Wickens.
“And Lucy and Jamie’s strange visitor seems to be the key to it all. With his help, they must travel back to 1821 to save Sara and Georgie and redeem their remorseful new friend – The Amazing Mr Blunden.”
Speaking about the project, Gatiss described the tale as “a ghost story with a sentimental heart” and “a costume drama with a time-travelling twist” saying that everything about it was “magical.”
“I first came across the wonderful original film at primary school when it was shown on a battered old projector on that most hallowed of occasions – the last Friday before the Christmas holidays,” he said. “In our new version, as in the book, the Allen family are very much from the modern world. I can’t wait to share the adventure with a whole new audience”.
Sky Studios’ Director of Comedy Jon Mountague added, “When we learnt that the incomparable Mark Gatiss wanted to update this absolute classic for the 21st century, we thought all our Christmases had come at once.
“The Amazing Mr Simon Callow and Tamsin Greig complete a trio of national treasures, and introducing an incredible young cast alongside, we couldn’t be prouder – roll on Christmas!”
Alongside Gatiss, Callow and Greig, the programme will star newcomers Tsion Habte and Jason Rennie as Lucy and Jamie Allen, alongside India Fowler and Xavier Wilkins as Sara and George.
The Amazing Mr Blunden will air on Sky and streaming service NOW as part of the broadcaster’s festive schedule.