Wednesday, 19 January 2011


Christmas Eve. A perfect time to curl up in front of the fire and read a good old fashioned ghost story. M.R. James was probably the numero uno when it comes to creating literary spine-chillers,and the small screen has been graced by several worthy adaptations of his work The BBC had previously broadcast a fine translation of WHISTLE AND I'LL COME TO YOU, starring Michael Hordern, which hit all the right notes. Now, we have a modern re-working of this tale and once again BBC did the honours, possibly resulting in a split between hard-line James buffs and those who were not averse to some significant plot revision.

Here, John Hurt takes centre stage as James Parkin; a recently retired academic who leaves his catatonic wife in a nursing home and travels to a coastal resort in search of a few days break. When Parkin finds an old ring on the seemingly deserted beach, all manner of strange sights and sounds come forth, installing an atmosphere of dread and a longing for life to be as it once was.
Consumed by guilt at having to leave his sick wife behind, Parkin is haunted by a body that has outlived its personality, which is probably even more frightening than any supernatrual manisfestation. Indeed, this is very much a tale for our times, highlighting the pain of having to let go, with the nursing home (like the hotel) boasting a single member of staff like some gatekeeper who has always been there.

I was surprised to learn this is the first ghost story featuring John Hurt's involvement and, as you might expect, he's perfect for the role truly conveying the air of a disturbed man.
While this particular version may upset some with its script liberties, I found WHISTLE AND I'LL COME TO YOU to be worthwhile viewing, and a nice companion to the previous, slightly superior take.


  1. Since I've not seen either, you have me intrigued, Steve. I'll have check this out. Thanks, my friend.

  2. Thanks, Michael. Well worth checking out. Loves James' ghost stories. He was an absolute master.