Mark Gatiss's Crooked House conjures up a ghostly Christmas on BBC Four
Janice Hadlow, Controller, BBC Four, has commissioned Tiger Aspect Productions to produce Crooked House, a haunting tale of three sumptuous ghost stories woven together for a spooky Christmas treat.
Written by Mark Gatiss (The League Of Gentlemen) and directed by Damon Thomas (Beethoven), the duo last collaborated on 2007's critically-acclaimed BBC Four drama The Worst Journey In The World.
Shot in HD, Crooked House boasts a wonderfully diverse cast which includes Julian Rhind-Tutt (Green Wing), Mark Gatiss, Philip Jackson (Margaret Thatcher: The Long Walk To Finchley), Lee Ingleby (George Gently), Jean Marsh (Sense And Sensibility), Samuel Barnett (Beautiful People), Daniela Denby-Ashe (My Family), Anna Madeley (Brideshead Revisited) and, in his debut dramatic role, illusionist Derren Brown as the mysterious Sir Roger Widdowson.
In addition to writing and co-producing the drama, Gatiss takes the role of a museum curator with an in-depth knowledge of the fictional Geap Manor, stretching through Tudor, Georgian, the Twenties and contemporary times.
When school teacher Ben unearths an old door knocker in the garden of his new home, the curator suggests it may come from the now-demolished house. A house reputed to be haunted...
Intrigued, Ben prompts the curator to tell him some of stories about the house and so begins a journey through time.
A corrupt Georgian businessman finds something unexpected in the woodwork of his new home.
In the Twenties, a young couple's happy engagement party is spoiled by the spectre of a ghostly bride.
And, back in the present day, Ben soon finds himself in darker, more dangerous waters than he could possibly have foreseen...
Paul Frift produces Crooked House and Jamie Laurenson is Commissioning Editor for BBC Four. Richard Fell is Executive Producer for Tiger Aspect.
Janice Hadlow says: "There's nothing quite like the thrill of a spooky yarn to warm up a chilly winter evening and BBC Four is the natural home for Mark's clever and witty story."
Mark Gatiss says: "Ever since I was a child and thrilled to the BBC's classic MR James adaptations, I've dreamt of sending a festive shiver down the nation's spine.
"I'm delighted to finally have the opportunity. A fantastic cast and crew have worked incredibly hard to fulfil this long held dream."
Richard Fell added: "The ghost story at Christmas is a much cherished BBC seasonal tradition that Mark's wonderful story has brought back to life.
"Like the best Christmas fare it is replete with rich and sumptuous treats – and not the odd skin crawling surprise."
Jamie Laurenson added: "Evoking the richest traditions of the genre where suspense and suggestion fray our nerves far more than violence or gore, Mark Gatiss's brilliant script plays on the strange compulsion to watch or listen to stories that scare us."
Crooked House was commissioned by Ben Stephenson and Janice Hadlow, and follows in the tradition of BBC Four Christmas ghost stories which include The Haunted Airman, Number 13 and View From A Hill in previous years.
Crooked House joins the stellar canon of drama on BBC Four which includes the Curse Of Comedy season, Marie Lloyd and Margaret Thatcher: Long Walk To Finchley.
Notes to Editors
BBC Four's average weekly reach continues to grow, up from 12.4% / 5.7m to 13.6% / 6.8m year-on-year and the channel recently celebrated its most successful night since launch.
BBC Four's share has also grown to 1.0% from 0.8% last year.
So far this year BBC Four has reached 73% of adults in multi-channel homes – that's 31 million viewers.
Since the beginning of 2008 programmes which have been particularly popular both in first showings and repeats include (cumulative reach):
Curse Of Steptoe - 3.2m
Margaret Thatcher: Long Walk To Finchley - 1.9m
Hughie Green: Most Sincerely - 2.4m
The Thirties In Colour - 3.1m over
Inside The Medieval Mind - 3.2m
Stephen Fry And The Gutenberg Press - 1.9m
Pop Britannia - 3.8m