GHOST STA­TION

Mark Gatiss spins the dial to spooky with new Christ­mas chiller The Dead Room

SFX - - Red alert -

What­ever hap­pened to clas­sic ghost stories? It’s the ques­tion posed by chilling new bbc Four drama The Dead Room – and one that’s close to the heart of mark gatiss, the haunted tale’s writer and di­rec­tor.

“i did an mr James doc­u­men­tary and adap­ta­tion [The Trac­tate Mid­doth] five years ago,” the Sher­lock and League Of Gentle­men star tells red alert, “and i’ve been lob­by­ing to do another christ­mas ghost story ever since. it’s an ob­ses­sion of mine that there should be one at christ­mas.

“it’s hard to get the money for any­thing that’s half an hour long and isn’t part of a larger pack­age. So it’s taken a while. i even thought about do­ing some­thing that was sim­ply some­one in a chair, telling a story like dave allen!”

named af­ter im­preg­nably sound­proofed rooms in ra­dio stu­dios, the one-off, half-hour drama stars Si­mon cal­low as aubrey Judd, vet­eran pre­sen­ter of a hor­ror an­thol­ogy se­ries called The Dead Room. “he’s a pompous old ac­tor who thinks he knows ev­ery­thing about what makes a ghost story tick and then, as the story de­vel­ops, el­e­ments from his guilty past start to in­trude onto his broad­cast…”

also star­ring anjli mo­hin­dra, Su­san pen­haligon and Joshua oakes-rogers, The Dead Room is set and filmed in the leg­endary maida Vale stu­dios, soon to be closed as the bbc re­lo­cates its live mu­sic base to east lon­don.

“it’s such a shame, be­cause that place is like a big wendy house,” says gatiss. “it has fos­sils of broad­cast­ing dot­ted around it, just lin­ger­ing. we went to the store room, which is like a magic junk shop, full of bits. all the orig­i­nal bbc sound ef­fects records and piles of baSF tape. the only one la­belled, right in the mid­dle, said ‘the dead room’. no joke. we didn’t play it. it was prob­a­bly sound ef­fects from a play called The Dead Room but i said, ‘if we put it on it’ll be a tape of us find­ing this tape! and we’ll know we’re dead!’”

gatiss’s wil­liam hart­nell drama An Ad­ven­ture In Space And Time was filmed in bbc tele­vi­sion cen­tre shortly be­fore it shut­tered. “it’s me, isn’t it?” he laughs. “is there any­where you want closed? i’ll make a drama in it. num­ber 10, maybe. nigel Farage’s house!” NS

The Dead Room is on BBC Four over Christ­mas. Read Mark Gatiss’s He­roes & In­spi­ra­tions on p72.

“FOR ALL THE COM­PLAIN­ING THAT I’D DONE ABOUT GE­ORGE LU­CAS IN THE PRE­QUELS, THERE WAS SOME­THING AMAZ­ING ABOUT HIS IMAG­I­NA­TION.” SI­MON PEGG HAS A REV­E­LA­TION WATCH­ING THE LAST JEDI.

In­tro­duc­ing Grandad to Gog­gle­box was in­ter­est­ing.

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