A Christmas Carol (1962)

UK, 1962
black and white, 4:3
mono, English

A British fantasy television special produced by Hal Burton. This is an operatic version of the Charles Dickens novel.

Plot Summary

Miserly London businessman Ebenezer Scrooge is visited on Christmas Eve by the ghost of his dead business partner Marley, who warns him that three more ghosts will appear during the night trying to show Scrooge the error of his ways. As the night wears on, he’s visited by the Ghost of Christmas Past, the Ghost of Christmas Present and the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come. But will even they be enough to soften old Scrooge’s heart?


Produced by: Hal Burton
Based on the novel A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
Music: Edwin Coleman
Libretto: Margaret Burns Harris
Music Performed by: The Pro Arte Orchestra
Leader: Max Salpeter
Conductor: William Reid
Associate Conductor: Alan Boustead
Pianist in Orchestra: Winifred Taylor
Celeste in Orchestra: Tom McCall
Accompanist Additions: Cicely Hoye, Raymond Holder
Designed by: Hal Burton

Stephen Manton (Scrooge)
Derick Davies (Bob Cratchit)
David Hillman (Scrooge’s nephew)
Marion Lowe (woman canvasser/charwoman)
Trevor Anthony (ghost of Jacob Marley/Ghost of Christmas Present)
Edward Donlevy (Ghost of Christmas Past/shopkeeper)
Andrew Clark (Scrooge as a small boy)
Sheelagh Mulholland (Scrooge’s sister)
Brenda Marshall (Scrooge’s fiancée)
Rhys McConnochie (Scrooge as a young man/double Christmas Future)
Catherine Wilson (Mrs Cratchit)
Sylvia Eaves (eldest Cratchit daughter)
Janette Lynn, Lynn Williams (2 Cratchit daughters)
Forrester Pyke (Tiny Tim)
Gerwyn Morgan (nephew’s visitor/2nd business man)
Carole Rosen (nephew’s visitor/laundress)
Elizabeth Boyd (nephew’s wife)
Giles Havergal (Ghost of Jacob Marley (vision only)/Ghost of Christmas Future)
Francis Egerton (1st business man/trader)
Norman Lumsden (undertaker’s man)
David Pinto (errand boy)
Edward Morgan (Scrooge’s double/trader)
Christopher Brett (Ghost of Christmas Past’s double)


Daily Telegraph 24 December 1962
There is no doubt that the work at times is strongly moving, but one feels it would have been no less had it been offered as a straight dramatic presentation. It is Dickens’s voice rather than Mr Coleman’s voice that casts the Christmas spell. The composer’s setting of crucial verbal exchanges is often on the lame side and one notices a lack of really vital melody. […] But there is much to enjoy here in the way of splendid characterisation by the cast. Stephen Manton’s Scrooge is an outstanding impersonation. […] Dickensians of all ages will take pleasure in Hal Burton’s interior designs which magically catch the atmosphere of the book. The exteriors scenes, the graveyard apart, are less convincing and the ghosts only intermittently effective. Mr Burton, who also produced, surely makes a mistake in having the Ghost of Jacob Marley mime the message stalwartly sung by Trevor Anthony. The divorce of voice and spectre fatally diminishes our imaginative response to the first of Scrooge’s encounters with the past. – from a review by Donald Mitchell


Radio Times vol.157 no. 2041 (22-28 December 1962) pp.25; 27 – illustrated note (A Christmas Carol by Barrie Hall); credits

Daily Telegraph 24 December 1962 – review (by Donald Mitchell)

A Christmas Carol and Its Adaptations: A Critical Examination of Dickens’s Story and Its Productions on Screen and Television by Fred Guida p.190 – credits

Other Sources
BBC Programme as Broadcast file