A Ghost Story for Christmas is a strand of annual British short television films originally broadcast on BBC One between 1971 and 1978, and revived sporadically by the BBC since 2005.[1][2] With one exception, the original instalments were directed by Lawrence Gordon Clark and the films were all shot on 16 mm colour film.[3] The remit behind the series was to provide a television adaptation of a classic ghost story, in line with the oral tradition of telling supernatural tales at Christmas.[4]

Each instalment is a separate adaptation of a short story, ranges between 30 and 50 minutes in duration, and features well-known British actors such as Clive Swift, Robert Hardy, Peter Vaughan, Edward Petherbridge and Denholm Elliott. The first five are adaptations of ghost stories by M. R. James, the sixth is based on a short story by Charles Dickens, and the last two instalments from the 1970s are original screenplays by Clive Exton and John Bowen respectively.[5] Although the strand (or series) was titled A Ghost Story for Christmas in listings such as the Radio Times (followed by the title of the individual story being shown), the strand title did not actually appear on screen until The Signalman in 1976.[6]

An earlier black-and-white adaptation of M. R. James’s “‘Oh, Whistle, and I’ll Come to You, My Lad’“, directed by Jonathan Miller and shown as part of the series Omnibus in 1968, is often cited as an influence upon the production of the films, and is sometimes included as part of the series.[1] The series was revived by the BBC in 2005 with a new set of ongoing adaptations, although these have been produced sporadically rather than annually.[7] {read}