A Ghost Story for Christmas is a strand of annual British short television films originally broadcast on BBC One between 1971 and 1978, and revived in 2005 on BBC Four. With one exception, the original instalments were directed by Lawrence Gordon Clark and the films were all shot on 16 mm colour film. The remit behind the series was to provide a television adaptation of a classic ghost story, in line with the oral tradition of telling supernatural tales at Christmas.
Broadcast in the dying hours of Christmas Eve, the BBC's A Ghost Story for Christmas series was a fixture of the seasonal schedules throughout the 1970s and spawned a long tradition of chilling tales which terrified yuletide viewers for decades to come. This expansive box set collects over 13 hours' worth of content, including all 12 episodes of the classic A Ghost Story for Christmas series, the entire Classic Ghost Stories series (presented by Robert Powell), the M R James episodes of Spine Chillers (presented by Michael Bryant), and three of the Ghost Stories for Christmas with Christopher Lee instalments from 2000.
Just about all of the seasonal favourites are here on a disc of carols that exudes a decidedly Christmassy glow. What makes this one stand out from the crowd of festive offerings is the standard of the performances from the Choir of Trinity College, Cambridge, which sings with a superb sense of ensemble, perfect tuning and crystal clear diction under Richard Marlow. The solo treble who begins "The Holly and the Ivy" gently eases the listener in to the 80-minute-long programme. Marlow takes an almost devotional approach to some carols (notably "Away in a Manger" and "While Shepherds Watched"). The account of "God rest ye merry, gentlemen" is warm and affectionate, traits that could be said to characterise the disc as a whole. The various arrangements by David Willcocks are as familiar and welcoming as an old pair of slippers: one never tires of their imagination and finesse. A disc of traditional Yuletide offerings, this disc is admirably recorded and performed with real affection by one this country's top choirs.
An operatic anthology of beloved opera performances spanning multiple vocal ranges that capture the joyous essence of the Christmas season.