Mark Gatiss to reunite with Peter Capaldi for Christmas ghost story

He will pen Martin's Close for BBC Four.

Mark Gatiss will reunite with former Doctor Who star Peter Capaldi when he pens and directs a new Christmas ghost story for BBC Four, it has been announced.

Martin’s Close is an adaptation of the M.R. James story of the same name, which follows the murder trial of John Martin.

Set in 1684, Martin is on trial for his life before the infamous “hanging judge” George Jeffreys but the case is thrown into question because the innocent young girl Martin is accused of killing has been seen after her death.

Peter Capaldi
Peter Capaldi (Ian West/PA)

The 30-minute drama will star Capaldi, Simon Williams, Sara Crowe, Fisayo Akinade and Elliot Levey, and continues the tradition of Christmas ghost stories on the BBC.

In 2008 Gatiss penned Crooked House for Christmas, in 2013 he offered up The Tractate Middoth and last year he wrote The Dead Room, starring Simon Callow.

Gatiss, who penned numerous episodes of Doctor Who starring Capaldi and starred as The Captain in his final Christmas special, said: “After the delightful success of last year’s The Dead Room, it’s a fantastic privilege to continue the tradition of the Christmas Ghost story on BBC Four – and what better than one of my favourite stories by the master of them all, M.R. James?”

Doctor Who
Mark Gatiss as The Captain and Peter Capaldi as The Doctor, with the first Doctor played by David Bradley (BBC)

The Dead Room was watched by almost one million viewers over the festive period, placing it within BBC Four’s top ten shows of last year, the channel has said.

The ghost story is one of a slew of announcements from BBC Four at the Edinburgh TV Festival.

It will present a fakery season in association with BBC Arts in which Dr Janina Ramirez meets Shaun Greenhalgh, once one of Britain’s most prolific and successful forgers.

In Handmade in Bolton he will put his specialised knowledge to positive use by researching and remaking a selection of precious objects from the past using traditional materials and methods.

Ian Hislop will front Ian Hislop’s Fake News, in which he mines history to identify what motivates fake news and tries to figure out what to do about it.

In Van Meegeren: The Forger Who Fooled The Nazis, Andrew Graham Dixon investigates the story of the 20th century’s greatest art forger, Dutch artist Han van Meegeren, who made millions during the Second World War, selling fake Vermeers in Nazi-occupied Holland.

Meanwhile, The Last Igloo will tell the story of a typical day in the life of an Inuit hunter in arctic Canada and the igloo that he builds on the frozen landscape. The film will be a sensory immersion in the landscape of ice and snow, and is described as “an elegy to a world that is melting away”.

The channel will also follow on from the success of the first part of Charles 1: Downfall of a King history boxset with a new three-part series with the working title Charles I: Death of a King, which focuses on the monarch’s last days, starting with his captivity and the political machinations preceding his trial, leading to the days he took the stand and his execution just a few days later in January 1649.

Cassian Harrison, channel editor at BBC Four, said: “BBC Four has had an amazing year, with sterling programming successes including The Yorkshire Ripper Files and Bros: After The Screaming Stops, and a Channel of the Year award to boot.

“We’ve got an equally exciting year coming up, with content that builds on previous successes but also forges new paths, all of it adding to BBC Four’s distinctive and much-loved position in the UK’s broadcasting landscape.”

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