A Christmas Carol: Being a Ghost Story of Christmas (1977)

UK, 24 December 1977
60m
videotape, colour, 4:3
mono, English

A British fantasy television film directed by Moira Armstrong.

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?

Credits

Crew
Directed by: Moira Armstrong
© BBC MCMLXXVII
BBC
Producer: Jonathan Powell
Production Unit Manager: Denis Curran
Dramatised by: Elaine Morgan
By: Charles Dickens
Script Editor: Betty Willingale
Lighting: Sam Barclay *
Music Composed and Conducted by: Herbert Chappell
Sound: Colin Dixon *
Costume Designer: Barbara Kidd
Make-Up Artist: Ann Ailes
Designer: Barry Newbery
Production Assistant: Carol Wiseman

Cast
Michael Hordern (Ebenezer Scrooge)
John Le Mesurier (Marley’s Ghost)
Bernard Lee (Ghost of Christmas Present)
Patricia Quinn (Ghost of Christmas Past)
Paul Copley (Fred)
Clive Merrison (Bob Cratchit)
Carol MacReady (Mrs Cratchit)
Maev Alexander (Fred’s wife)
Zoë Wanamaker (Belle)
Stephen Churchett (John)
Will Stampe (Fezziwig)
Christopher Biggins (Topper)
Tricia George (little blonde)
John Salthouse (Scrooge as a young man)
Veronica Doran (Caroline)
John Grillo (Caroline’s husband)
June Brown (Mrs Dilber)
David Hatton (undertaker’s man)
John Ringham (charity gentleman)
Brian Hayes, Roy Desmond (businessmen)
Michael Mulcaster (The Ghost of Christmas Future)
Nicholas John (Dick Wilkins)
Dorian Healy (Scrooge, as a schoolboy)
Tracey Childs (Fan)
Zelah Clarke (Marthur Cratchit)
David Ronder (Peter Cratchit)
Claire McLellan (Belinda Cratchit)
Timothy Chasin (Tiny Tim Cratchit)
David Corti (carol-singer)

Press

1977
Daily Mail 28 December 1977
Pleasant, but no classic, it left Alistair Sim untoppled from the throne of the people’s Scrooge. What struck me as miscasting – Michael Hordern as the miser’s miser – robbed the piece of a true villain to be reformed, Hordern’s basic amiability making him crusty rather than obsessed at the outset. – from a review by Shaun Usher

Daily Telegraph 28 December 1977
[A] curiously muted affair. Much thought and care had evidently gone into the production, but it just didn’t convey the true Dickensian relish. Michael Hordern’s Scrooge was more querulous than crotchety; you didn’t believe much in his reform, because he wasn’t all that detestable in the first place. The female Ghost of Christmas Past sounded like a refugee from Radio Three and Tiny Tim hardly registered at all. The best performance came, a trifle unexpectedly, from John Le Mesurier as a sepulchral Marley. – from a review by Richard Last

Extracts included in
The Story of the Ghost Story (2005)

References

Newspapers
Daily Mail 28 December 1977 – review (by Shaun Usher)
Daily Telegraph 28 December 1977 – review (by Richard Last)

Books
A Christmas Carol and Its Adaptations: A Critical Examination of Dickens’s Story and Its Productions on Screen and Television by Fred Guida pp.200-201 – credits