Director Mark Gatiss

Cast Simon Callow, Tsion Habte,

Jason Rennie, Tamsin Greig

Writer/director Mark Gatiss continues his quest to make Christmas spooky again with this Sky Original movie, an updated remake of Lionel Jeffries’s 1972 film The Amazing Mr Blunden.

That’s a time-travelling ghost story about two poor teenagers in Victorian London who must save the lives of two orphans in 1818. Both films are, technicall­y, adaptation­s of Antonia Barber’s 1969 children’s book The Ghosts, but Gatiss’s version is more obviously a homage to Jeffries’s British family classic.

Set in the modern day, it follows siblings Lucy (Tsion Habte) and Jamie (Jason Rennie) as their mother is approached by Mr Blunden (Simon Callow), a mysterious old man who offers the family a job looking after a haunted old house. They soon find, however, that these ghosts are actually time-travellers from the past – two children destined to be murdered by the evil Mr and Mrs Wickens (Gatiss and Tamsin Greig, both resplenden­t in grotesque make-up and prosthetic­s).

It’s an altogether more cartoonish version of the story, with the gothic edge of the original film filed down for something a bit brighter and broader. This can often make the whole thing look and feel like a typical TV movie, but it’s elevated by some wonderful performanc­es. Chief among these is Callow himself, who plays the remorseful Mr Blunden with the sort of twinkle in his eye that Santa Claus would be proud of.

It’s this twinkle, this magic, that makes Gatiss’s remake such a natural fit for the Christmas holidays, when your tolerance for schmaltz is at its highest. Stephen Kelly

Gatiss’s remake features many cameos from stars of the 1972 film, including Rosalyn Landor, who played orphan Sara.

 ?? ?? “My dears, did I ever give you my Macbeth? I simply must.”
“My dears, did I ever give you my Macbeth? I simply must.”

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