Film; Radio; Television

This checklist is an updated and revised version of the list which appeared in Ghosts & Scholars 19. I'm confident that all the major dramatisations of M.R. James's stories have been included, but it's very possible that some lesser-known ones are missing. I'd be delighted to receive additions and corrections, particularly from countries other than Great Britain. Except where stated, all the TV and radio adaptations listed are British, and all the radio broadcasts are from the BBC. Not included here are stories and plays which show Jamesian influence but are not closely related to his tales. Some of the information on early radio dramatisations was obtained from "The M.R. James Files" by Graeme Stevenson in Tune into Yesterday #26 (1997), the journal of the Old Time Radio Show Collectors Association. Thanks to innumerable people for their help over the years.


1958 Night of the Demon; US title Curse of the Demon ( i.e. "Casting the Runes"). Directed by Jacques Tourneur. Screenplay by Charles Bennett and Hal E. Chester. Starring Dana Andrews, Peggy Cummins, and Niall MacGinnis as Karswell.

1989 La Chiesa (Italian); main English title The Church (loosely inspired by "The Treasure of Abbot Thomas"). Directed by Michele Soavi. Written by Dario Argento. Starring Hugh Quarshie, Tomas Arana.

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1938 (Mar 12) Madam, Will You Walk? (i.e. "Martin's Close"). Forty-minute play, adapted by C. Whitaker-Wilson, produced by John Cheatle. Starring A. Bromley-Davenport, C. Whitaker-Wilson, Franklyn Bellamy, Spencer Trevor, G.F. Campbell Browne, Gladys Young. (Home [Regional] Service)

1940 (Apr 4) Martin's Close. Abridged reading by John Gloag. (Home [Regional] Service)

1947 (Nov 19) Casting the Runes. Dramatisation produced and directed by William N. Robson. Starring John MacIntyre as Edward Dunning and Bill Conrad as Karswell. In the "Escape" series on CBS (USA). Currently available on a "Radio Showcase" audiotape.

1949 (Feb 7) Oh, Whistle, and I'll Come to You, My Lad. Dramatisation in the "Man in Black" series. (Light Programme)

c.1951 (?) Casting the Runes and The Uncommon Prayer-Book. Dramatisations. (Home Service) (Both mentioned in documents in the BBC archives, but no broadcast date given.)

c.1956 Oh, Whistle, and I'll Come to You, My Lad. (Children's Hour)

c.1957-1958 A Neighbour's Landmark. Reading by Valentine Dyall.

1959 (Apr 28) A Mass of Cobwebs (i.e. "The Tractate Middoth"). Play, adapted by Brian Batchelor. (Light Programme)

c.1960-1965 The Ash Tree (Dec 21, 1963) and An Evening's Entertainment. Dramatisations by Erik Bauersfeld in his "Black Mass" series, which ran between those dates on KPFK/KPFA (Berkeley, California). An Evening's Entertainment starring Pat Franklin as Grandmother and Donald Page as Mr Davis.

1963 (Aug 24) Martin's Close. Play, starring Donald Wolfit. (Home Service)

1963 (Dec 24) Oh, Whistle, and I'll Come to You, My Lad. Thirty-minute dramatisation, adapted for radio by Michael and Mollie Hardwick; produced by Charles Lefeaux. Starring Michael Hordern as Parkins, and Austin Trevor as Colonel Wilson. (Home Service)

c.1965-1966 Count Magnus. Dramatisation directed by Frank Sawyer. In "Tales of Mystery and Imagination", made by WNYE-FM, the radio station of the New York City Board of Education.

c.1970-1971 The Tractate Middoth. Reading.

1971 (Dec 23) Lost Hearts. Reading by Bernard Cribbins. (Radio 3)

1974 (Mar 4) This Will Kill You (based on "Casting the Runes"). Dramatisation in the "Radio Mystery Theater" series on CBS (USA). Starring Norman Rose and Larry Haines.

1975 (Dec 23) Number 13. Reading by Peter Barkworth, abridged by Neville Teller, in "Story Time: Ghost Trilogy" series (Radio 4)

1976-1994 Series of plays written by Sheila Hodgson, featuring M.R. James as a character; some based on plots in MRJ's "Stories I Have Tried to Write". All apart from The Boat Hook and The Fellow Travellers starring David March as MRJ. (Radio 4 apart from The Fellow Travellers) Story versions of these plays appeared in Blackwood's Magazine and Ghosts & Scholars, and were published by Ash-Tree Press as The Fellow Travellers and Other Ghost Stories in 1998.
1976 (Oct) Whisper in the Ear (based on MRJ's Marcilly-le-Hayer plot idea, retitled "The Villa Martine" in story form).
1977 (Mar) Turn, Turn, Turn (based on the Fenstanton Witch plot, retitled "The Turning Point" in story form).
1977 (Sept 22) The Backward Glance (based on the Mask plot).
1977 (Dec 29) Here am I, Where are You? (a "Mr Humphreys" type plot).
1984 (Nov 21) Echoes from the Abbey (inspired by MRJ's Abbeys and including the Cracker plot).
1989 (Apr 19) The Lodestone (inspired by Abbeys).
1992 (Apr 15) The Boat Hook. Starring Michael Williams as M.R. James.
1994 (Feb 20) The Fellow Travellers. Starring Aiden Grennell as M.R. James. (Telefis Eireann, Ireland)

1977 (Dec 27) The Ghosts of M.R. James. Talk by Michell Raper on MRJ, featuring readings by Gerald Cross, Norman Shelley and Kenneth Fortescue from "Wailing Well", "Lost Hearts", "Oh, Whistle", "Rats". (Radio 4)

1978 (May 2) The Figure in the Moonlight (based on "The Mezzotint"). Dramatisation in the "Radio Mystery Theater" series on CBS (USA). Starring Patricia Elliott and Paul Hecht.

1980 (Dec 19) Oh, Whistle, and I'll Come to You, My Lad. Reading by Robert Trotter. (Radio 4)

1981 (Jan 2) The Hex (based on "Casting the Runes"). Play, written by Gregory Evans. Starring Conrad Phillips, Peter Copley, Edward Atienza. (Radio 4)

c.1981-1982 Rats. Reading by Richard Hurndal in "Morning Story" slot. (Radio 4)

c.1981-1982 The Haunted Dolls' House. Reading by David Ashford in "Morning Story" slot. (Radio 4)

1984 (Dec 22) The Demon Cakestand of Beestly Chase. Wonderful MRJ parody by 'Edgar Ian Brown' and 'M.R. James Hendrie'; a forerunner of the "Tales from the Mausoleum Club". Starring Stephen Fry, Ballard Berkeley, Sheila Steafel. (Radio 4)

1986 (June 9) Rats. Reading by James Aubrey. (Radio 4)

1987 (Dec 25) The Teeth of Abbot Thomas. MRJ parody by Stephen Sheridan. Starring Alfred Marks, Jonathan Adams. (Radio 4)

1997-1998 "The Late Book: Ghost Stories". Series of readings, abridged and produced by Paul Kent. Narrated by Benjamin Whitrow. (Radio 4; repeated BBC7 Digital, Dec 2003-Jan 2004, and Sept-Oct 2004)
(Dec 29) Canon Alberic's Scrapbook.
(Dec 30) Lost Hearts.
(Dec 31) A School Story.
(Jan 1) The Haunted Dolls' House.
(Jan 2) Rats.

2000 (Aug 18) M.R. James and Others. An abridged reading by John Sessions of Richard Holmes' essay on MRJ from his book Sidetracks (2000), originally published as "Of Ghosts and King's" in The Times, Nov 23, 1974. (Radio 4)

2000 "The Red Room". Series of nine fifteen-minute classic ghost stories by various authors, dramatised by Robin Brooks and directed by Clive Brill in the Woman's Hour Drama slot, December 18-29 (Radio 4), including:
(Dec 20) Casting the Runes. Starring Sean Baker as Dunning and Charlie Simpson as the Host.
(Dec 22) Count Magnus. Starring Charlie Simpson as Wraxall.

2002 (Nov 15) "Great Lives": M.R. James. Programme in a biographical discussion series presented by Humphrey Carpenter, with guest MRJ enthusiasts, Muriel Gray and Christopher Frayling, and short readings from several stories, etc. (Radio 4)

2003 (Oct 16) The House at World's End. Forty-five minute play, written by Stephen Sheridan, featuring M.R. James as a central character. Directed by David Blount. Starring John Rowe as M.R. James and Jonathan Keeble as "Young James". (Radio 4)

2005 (Dec 25) "Open Book". Twenty-minute programme devoted to MRJ's ghost stories in this book review/discussion series. Richard Holmes, Julie Myerson and Tobias Hill discussed MRJ with Kate Mosse. (Radio 4; extended repeat Radio 4, Dec 29)

2007 "M.R. James at Christmas". Series of five fifteen-minute stories by MRJ, introduced by Derek Jacobi, dramatised by Chris Harrald and produced by Gemma Jenkins in the Woman's Hour Drama slot, December 24-28 (Radio 4):
(Dec 24) Oh, Whistle, and I'll Come to You, My Lad. Starring Jamie Glover, Nicholas Boulton, Rachel Atkins and Ben Onwukwe.
(Dec 25) The Tractate Middoth. Starring Joseph Millson, Joannah Tincey, John Rowe and Sam Dale.
(Dec 26) Lost Hearts. Starring James D'Arcy, Sophie Roberts, Jordan Clarke, Peter Marinker and Katy Cavanagh.
(Dec 27) The Rose Garden. Starring Anton Lesser, Carolyn Pickles, Susan Jameson, Ben Crowe and Simon Treves.
(Dec 28) Number 13. Starring Julian Rhind-Tutt, Jan de Lukowicz, Simon Treves and Ben Onwukwe.

2007 (Dec 28) A Warning to the Furious. Forty-five minute play, written by Robin Brooks, concerning a film-making team setting out to make a documentary about MRJ on the Suffolk coast. Produced by Fiona McAlpine. Starring Lucy Robinson, Catherine Shepherd, Gerard McDermott, Carl Prekopp and Andrew Wincott.

2009 (Oct 9/10) The Mezzotint. Reading by Robin Bailey in "Classic Tales of Horror" series. (BBC7 Digital; repeated May 20/21, 2010; previously released on CD)

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1951 (May 7) The Lost Will of Dr Rant (i.e. "The Tractate Middoth"). US TV play in the "Lights Out!" series. Directed by Laurence Schwab Jr. Adapted by Doris Halman. Starring Leslie Nielsen as Garrett, Russell Collins, Pat Englund, Eva Condon, John Gerstad, Marvin Paige, Florence Anguish, Fred Ardath. Available on DVD from more than one company (try Googling for it!).

1954 (Oct 14) Two Ghost Stories by M.R. James, "Canon Alberic's Scrapbook" and "The Mezzotint". Produced, directed and adapted by Tony Richardson. Narrative versions with some visual effects, the first performed by Robert Farquharson and the second by George Rose. (BBC)

1961 (Sept 7) Room 13 (i.e. "Number 13"). US TV play (NBC) in the "Great Ghost Tales" series. Directed by Lewis Freedman. Adapted by Philip H. Reisman Jr. Starring William Redfield, Diana Van der Vlis.

1966-1968 Four plays forming part of ITV's "Mystery and Imagination" series. Story editor, Terence Feely.
1966 (Feb 26) The Tractate Middoth. Directed by Kim Mills. Adapted by Dennis Webb. Starring David Buck, Norman Scace, Jerry Verno, Tim Preece, Giles Block, Edwin Finn, Helen Ford, Cyril Renison.
1966 (Mar 5) Lost Hearts. Directed by Robert Tronson. Adapted by Giles Cooper. Starring Freddie Jones, Richard Pearson, Megs Jenkins, David Dodimead, Francis Thompson, Roy Young, Darryl Read.
1966 (Oct 22) Room 13 (i.e. "Number 13"). Directed by Patrick Dromgoole. Adapted by Evelyn Frazer. Starring David Buck, David Battley, George Woodbridge, Tessa Wyatt, Carl Bernard, Joss Ackland.
1968 (Mar 23) Casting the Runes. Directed by Alan Cooke. Adapted by Evelyn Frazer. Starring Robert Eddison as Karswell, John Fraser, Gordon Jackson.

1968 (May 7) Whistle and I'll Come to You (i.e. "Oh, Whistle, and I'll Come to You, My Lad"). Play, produced and adapted by Jonathan Miller. Starring Michael Hordern as Parkins, Ambrose Coghill. (BBC1; repeated BBC2, 1986, Nov 11; BBC4, 2004, Dec 22; and BBC4, 2005, Dec 21) Currently available on British DVD/video from the British Film Institute.

1971-1975 Five MRJ plays in the "Ghost Story for Christmas" series on BBC1, adapted and directed by Lawrence Gordon Clark.
1971 (Dec 24) Stalls of Barchester (i.e. "...Cathedral"). Starring Robert Hardy, Thelma Barlow, Ambrose Coghill, and Clive Swift as the narrator. (Repeated BBC1, 1972, Aug 16; BBC2, 1995, Dec 24; and BBC4, 2004, Dec 26)
1972 (Dec 24) A Warning to the Curious. Starring Peter Vaughan and Clive Swift, with John Kearney as Ager. (Repeated BBC1, 1974, May 25; BBC2, 1992, Dec 26; BBC4, 2004, Dec 24; and BBC4, 2005, Dec 20) Currently available on British DVD/video from the British Film Institute.
1973 (Dec 25) Lost Hearts. Starring Joseph O'Conor and Susan Richards. (Repeated BBC1, 1974, June 8; BBC2, 1994, Dec 24; and BBC4, 2005, Dec 19)
1974 (Dec 23) The Treasure of Abbot Thomas. Starring Michael Bryant. (Repeated BBC2, 1993, Dec 24; and BBC4, 2004, Dec 23)
1975 (Dec 23) The Ash Tree. Written by David Rudkin. Starring Edward Petherbridge, Preston Lockwood, Barbara Ewing. (Repeated BBC4, 2005, Dec 18)

1976 Mr Humphreys and His Inheritance. Short (under 20 minutes) dramatisation in the course of a Yorkshire TV (ITV) schools programme about film and background music. Written, produced and directed by Tony Scull. Starring Geoffrey Russell as Mr Humphreys. (Repeated 1977, June 13) Currently available on British DVD from Network DVD.

1979 (Apr 24) Casting the Runes. Play, directed by Lawrence Gordon Clark. Starring Iain Cuthbertson, Jan Francis. (ITV) Currently available on British DVD from Network DVD.

1980 Series of three readings by Michael Bryant on BBC1 (Children's TV). Produced by Angela Beeching.
(Nov 21) The Mezzotint.
(Nov 28) A School Story.
(Dec 12) The Diary of Mr Poynter.

1986 "Classic Ghost Stories, by M.R. James". Series of readings on BBC2 by Robert Powell, with dramatised incidents. Produced by Angela Beeching.
(Dec 25) The Mezzotint. Jeremy Roberts as Williams. Engravings by Barry Wilkinson.
(Dec 26) The Ash Tree. Cameron Miller as Revd Crome.
(Dec 28) Wailing Well.
(Dec 29) Oh, Whistle, and I'll Come to You, My Lad.
(Dec 30) The Rose Garden. Arthur Nightingale as Mr Anstruther.

1995 (Dec 22) A Pleasant Terror: The Life and Ghosts of M.R. James. Documentary with dramatised sections, directed and produced by Clive Dunn. Written by Dunn and Michael Cox. Starring Bill Wallis as the narrator and Michael Elwyn as MRJ. (Anglia ITV) Currently available on British DVD from Network DVD.

2000 "Christopher Lee's Ghost Stories for Christmas". Series of four readings on BBC2 by Christopher Lee (as M.R. James). Adapted by Ronald Frame, directed by Eleanor Yule and produced by Richard Downes.
(Dec 23) The Stalls of Barchester (i.e. "...Cathedral").
(Dec 26) The Ash Tree.
(Dec 29) Number 13.
(Dec 31) A Warning to the Curious.

2004 (Dec 22) M.R. James: The Corner of the Retina. Half-hour profile to introduce a series of repeats of the BBC's 1960s/70s M.R. James dramatisations. Featuring Christopher Frayling, Muriel Gray, Ruth Rendell. Produced by Pete Lawrence. (BBC4; repeated BBC4, 2005, Dec 23; BBC4, 2006, Dec 22)

2005 (Dec 23) A View from a Hill. Play, adapted by Peter Harness and directed by Luke Watson. Starring Mark Letheren as Fanshawe, Pip Torrens as Squire Richards, and David Burke as Patten. (BBC4; repeated BBC4, 2006, Dec 21)

2006 (Dec 22) Number 13. Play, adapted by Justin Hopper and directed by Pier Wilkie. Starring Greg Wise as Anderson, and David Burke as the innkeeper. (BBC4; repeated BBC4, 2006, Dec 23)

2010 (Dec 24) Whistle and I'll Come to You (i.e. "Oh, Whistle, and I'll Come to You, My Lad"). Play, a "modern reworking" written by Neil Cross and directed by Andy de Emmony. Starring John Hurt as Parkin (sic) and Gemma Jones. (BBC2; repeated BBC1, Dec 29)

Copyright © 2000-2010 Rosemary Pardoe
Last Updated: December 24th, 2010.

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