Continuing the Count-down
As the run-up to the Mark Gatiss production of ‘Count Magnus’ continues, the BBC invited lead actor Jason Watkins on yesterday’s Today program yesterday to discuss the appeal of ghost story-telling at Christmas. He spoke insightfully of the superstitions around Christmas Eve — indeed similar to Halloween (All Hallow’s Eve) — the belief thar evil spirits were abroad on the night before Christmas, at this darkest time of the year, and the tradition of oral narrative into which M.R. James’s ‘chit-chat club’ falls — think neolithic cave-dwellers around the campfire, only in evening dress in an Eton parlour! The excerpt from the adaptation suggested his portrayal of Mr Wraxall has the requisite level of nervous facetiousness of the perennial Jamesian meddler, “very much alone in the world”, who practically dares the wicked Count to come for him and ignores the ‘red flags’ put in his way…
A little political aside: As you can see it was the obnoxious Tory journalist Nick Robinson who interviewed Jason Watkins yesterday, but of course the grilling he gave to Pat Cullen of the Royal College of Nursing this morning was considerably more hostile. Perhaps Nick would have been less ingratiating in his reporting of ‘Count Magnus’ if he knew Mark Gatiss has tweeted support for striking NHS workers, wore a CWU badge on BBC’s The One Show and even stood on a freezing picket line with striking postal workers.
You can probably find the Nick Robinson’s interview with Watkins on BBC Sounds if you missed it. Meanwhile, in one of my next posts, I shall review last year’s offering from A Ghost Story for Christmas, ‘The Mezzotint’.
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