‘Sherlock’ writer announces new family Christmas movie set in 1820s

A family adventure film from the co-creator of Sherlock has begun filming in England.

The Amazing Mr Blunden is based on Antonia Barber’s novel The Ghosts.

Also inspired by the 1972 film of the same name, the 90-minute TV movie is written by Mark Gatiss (Doctor Who, Dracula).

Gatiss is also directing the film, which will premiere in the UK this Christmas on Sky and NOW TV as a highlight of their festive schedule.

The official synopsis reads: “Christmas adventure arrives for London teenagers Jamie and Lucy Allen in the form of a mysterious old man, Mr Blunden, who offers their mum the opportunity to become the caretaker of a ruined country house – one that’s said to be haunted.

“Within its neglected, overgrown grounds, Jamie and Lucy have an encounter with what appears to be a pair of ghost children. But these spooky kids, Sara and Georgie, aren’t actually ghosts.

“They’ve travelled forwards in time to seek help, believing they’re going to be murdered by the wicked Mr and Mrs Wickens. And Lucy and Jamie’s strange visitor seems to be the key to it all.

“With his help, they must travel back to 1821 to save Sara and Georgie and redeem their remorseful new friend – The Amazing Mr Blunden.”

Simon Callow (Four Weddings and a  Funeral) will lead the cast as Mr Blunden.

He’ll be joined by Mark Gatiss and Tamsin Greig (Belgravia) as Mr and Mrs Wickens.

Newcomers Tsion Habte and Jason Rennie will play Lucy and Jamie Allen, with India Fowler and Xavier Wilkins playing Sara and Georgie Latimer.

Actor, director, and writer Mark Gatiss commented: “To me, everything about The Amazing Mr Blunden is magical. A ghost story with a sentimental heart. A costume drama with a time-travelling twist. Scary villains, melancholy, laughter and joy.

“I first came across the wonderful original film at primary school when it was shown on a battered old projector on that most hallowed of occasions – the last Friday before the Christmas holidays.

“In our new version, as in the book, the Allen family are very much from the modern world. I can’t wait to share the adventure with a whole new audience”

Jon Mountague, Director of Comedy, Sky Studios, added: “When we learnt that the incomparable Mark Gatiss wanted to update this absolute classic for the 21st century, we thought all our Christmases had come at once.

“The Amazing Mr Simon Callow and Tamsin Greig complete a trio of national treasures, and introducing an incredible young cast alongside, we couldn’t be prouder – roll on Christmas!”

The Amazing Mr Blunden isn’t the only festive drama coming up from Mark Gatiss this year…

He’s also adapting 1904 ghost story The Mezzotint for the BBC this Christmas.

Gatiss previously teased: “It’s delightful to be bringing a little seasonal unease to the nation once again and this famous M. R. James story is just the ticket.”

The complete Sherlock box set is available on DVD on Amazon.