Sacha Dhawan and Una Stubbs to star in Mark Gatiss’s BBC2 Christmas drama, ‘The Tractate Middoth’

Christmas ghost stories to return to BBC Two.

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Casting has been announced for Mark Gatiss’s new BBC Two chilling adaptation of MR James’s short story, The Tractate Middoth.

The ghost story will star Sacha Dhawan (Last Tango In Halifax, Being Human; The History Boys), John Castle (I, Claudius), Louise Jameson (Doctor Who, Doc Martin) and Una Stubbs (Sherlock, Til Death Do Us Part) for transmission this Christmas.

They will be joined by David Ryall (The Village); Eleanor Bron (Women In Love, Absolutely Fabulous); Nick Burns (Nathan Barley) and Roy Barraclough (Coronation Street).

The half-hour drama is written and directed by Mark Gatiss in his directorial debut.

In a quiet academic library, John Eldred (Castle) seeks out the help of young Mr Garrett (Dhawan) in his search for a seemingly obscure Hebrew text. But there is something unusual about this book and something not entirely scholarly about Eldred’s intentions. Soon, Garrett’s hunt for the Tractate Middoth provokes terrifying apparitions in the library and a vengeful menace from beyond the grave.

Mark Gatiss says: “The wonderful adaptations of MR James’s tales that I saw on TV as a child have been a lasting inspiration to me. I’m delighted to restore the tradition of a BBC ‘Ghost Story for Christmas’ and bring to life a personal favourite – The Tractate Middoth – one of James’s most atmospheric, thrilling, and downright scary tales.”

Mark Bell, Commissioning Editor for Arts, says: “In his ghost stories MR James displays a beguiling mixture of dry wit, singular erudition and a joyful enthusiasm for the macabre. Mark Gatiss shares the same attributes and it is tremendously exciting to be working on both a new drama and a documentary investigation of what made this great British eccentric tick.”

The drama will be complemented by a documentary, MR James: Ghost Writer (w/t) in which Mark Gatiss steps into the mind of MR James, the enigmatic English master of the supernatural story. A long-time admirer of James, Mark will explore how this donnish Victorian bachelor, conservative by nature and a devout Anglican, created tales that continue to chill readers more than a century on.

The Tractate Middoth is executive produced by Damon Thomas for CAN DO Productions and Mark Bell, Commissioning Editor for Arts for the BBC. The series producers are Susie Liggat and John Das.

The drama and documentary will be broadcast in December 2013.