Spooky secrets at Crickley Hall…
Doors that open on their own, a creepy cellar and noises coming from the attic, all the familiar ghost story tropes were present in ‘The Secret Of Crickley Hall’ based on the James Herbert novel. The horror genre is not often represented in British TV with the last notable series being ITV’s Marchlands, which aired in February 201. So this is a welcome series especially with Christmas approaching the perfect time for ghost stories.
Suranne Jones plays mother Eve, whose child with whom she shares some kind of psychic bond with disappears when she falls asleep while he’s playing in a park. Her husband Gabe, played by Miranda‘s Tom Ellis, has been offered a job up north and sees it as an opportunity for the family to get away from it all after they’ve received no news for a few months. The pair with daughters Cally (Pixie Davies) and Loren (Maisie Williams, Arya Stark in Game Of Thrones) arrive at Crickley Hall early on in the episode so we get straight into the haunted house the event the viewer is waiting for. Throughout the remainder of the episode we flash back to 1943 where we learn that the house was used as an orphanage during the war run by the creepy Magda (Sarah Smart) and Augustus (Douglas Henshall).
A young woman, Nancy Linnet begins teaching there and soon uncovers the abuse that the children are subjected to at the hands (or cane) of Augustus, and beneath that expressionless face is a sadistic bully. Back in the present Eve and the family visit the church where the graves of orphans who perished in a flood are being attended to by Percy, played by David Warner who appeared in the horror classic The Omen. We see Percy as a young lad (played by Iain De Caestecker) back in 1943 and he is the only character from the past who appears in the present and will probably be the key to unlocking the secrets of Crickley Hall.
The past begins to bleed through to the present as ghosts of children begin running around and the ghost of Augustus makes his presence felt by whipping Eve, Cally and Loren. The scene where Loren gets into bed and is whipped by Augustus’s apparition will probably induce a few nightmares. Any normal family at this point would leave but they are tied to the place because Eve is adamant that this place may hold the key to them being reunited with Cam. This is a clever move as it gives the family a good reason for staying there whilst there are ghostly goings on. Eve and Gabe argue but the shouting and anguish isn’t at Eastenders level even at the beginning when Cam goes missing. There is abuse but that mostly happens off-screen and its pretty tame for a post watershed show.
I would like to see the show become darker next week and now that we’ve seen the ghosts I’m curious to see how we will be kept spooked. While it doesn’t offer anything new, it was a promising start with great performances from the adult and child cast and it made me jump a few times! Perfect Sunday night entertainment that everyone in this household enjoyed.