This article was originally published on Ferretbrain. I’ve backdated it to its original Ferretbrain publication date but it may have been edited and amended since its original appearance.
Thanks to the efforts of M.R. James and Charles Dickens, Christmas has become ghost season, and this year the BBC decided to tap into that tradition with Crooked House, a series of three half-hour ghost stories written by Mark Gatiss, the League of Gentlemen’s token geek. Gatiss takes as his model the portmaneau horror movies of the 1970s, in which a series of short stories are connected by a linking device. In this case, said device involves history teacher Ben (played by a suitably wet-looking Lee Ingleby) finding a worn old door knocker in the back garden of his newly-built home; on taking the knocker to a local museum curator (played by Gatiss) he is informed that it used to adorn the front entrance of Geep Manor, a recently demolished Tudor-era mansion with an evil reputation. Two of the stories are tales from the Manor’s history, introduced by the curator – the first episode takes place in the 18th Century, the second in the 1920s – whilst in the final episode Ben foolhardily decides to attach the knocker to his own front door, causing him to be haunted by the deceased Manor itself.