Sunderland Echo

VIEW SCREEN

- With Ian Rotherham

HAUNTING TALE

BBC Two and BBC iPlayer have announced The Mezzotint, a ghost story for Christmas based on the M. R. James short story and adapted for television by Mark Gatiss. The haunting standalone drama will air this December.

“For sale: Interestin­g mezzotint: View of a manor house, early part of last century.”

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…?

Laced with M. R. James’ trademark terror, The Mezzotint will guarantee a chill in the air for viewers this Christmas.

Rory Kinnear -pictured (Years & Years, No Time To Die) stars as Williams, alongside Robert Bathurst (Cold Feet, Downton Abbey) as Garwood, and Frances Barber (Doctor Who, Semi-Detached) as Mrs Ambrigail.

The Mezzotint is the latest ghost story for Christmas from Mark Gatiss on the BBC, following Martin’s Close in 2019, The Dead Room in 2018, The Tractate Middoth in 2013, and Crooked House in 2008. All were a ratings hit, with Martin’s Close becoming BBC Four’s most watched programme of 2019, with 1.5 million viewers (30-day consolidat­ed figure).

Mark Gatiss says: “It’s delightful to be bringing a little seasonal unease to the nation once again and this famous M. R. James story is just the ticket. We’ve assembled a top-notch team to bring this eerie mystery - and a certain enigmatic old picture to life.”

Filming wrapped recently in the South of England. The Mezzotint will air this Christmas on BBC Two and BBC iPlayer.

Simon Doncaster observed how local bats were active well into November and December this last year.

I noticed the same around my area with pipistrell­e bats on sunny days late in the season. Noctule bats in particular can be active and will come out to feed well before dusk if insects are flying and provide potential food.

For mammals which hibernate then keeping up levels of bodyfat is critical to survival. This can also apply to other animals such as insects like butterflie­s some of which hibernate as adults though the winter.

The danger for all these creatures is that if they wake up but cannot find food, then precious fat reserves are consumed and back in hibernatio­n they may die.

Readers often assume that bats are out and about just in summer but it is worth watching out through autumn and winter, too.

Once we move closer to spring then bats and butterflie­s can be expected if there are any bright, sunny days.

Similarly in recent weeks the bird song has started to rise once again with great tits, blue tits, blackbirds, collared doves, dunnocks, and robins all joining in.

Prof Rotherham, a researcher, writer and broadcaste­r on wildlife and environmen­tal issues, is contactabl­e on ianonthewi­ldside@ukeconet.org

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 ??  ?? Bats can be active well before dusk.
Bats can be active well before dusk.

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