Download Haunted Seasons: Television Ghost Stories for Christmas and by Derek Johnston PDF

By Derek Johnston

This publication explores the literary and cultural heritage in the back of convinced Christmas and Halloween traditions, and examines the way in which that they have got moved into broadcasting. It demonstrates how those horror traditions became extra household and private, and the way they supply an important seasonal pause for mirrored image on our fears.

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Additional info for Haunted Seasons: Television Ghost Stories for Christmas and Horror for Halloween

Sample text

Typically, what they warn of is any behaviour which could be considered objectionable to middle-class tastes, and of failing to live up to the values and appearance of the class. This is particularly significant in that, as Briggs notes, ‘Several of the periodicals were intended for reading aloud to the whole family, which might consist of young and old of both sexes’ (1977, p. 14). Briggs uses this point to emphasise the appropriateness of the ghost story because it provided a straightforward dramatic narrative which could be presented simply and understood by the whole family.

In part, this is because of the tradition which we have already outlined as leading up to this historical point, but it is also because of the traditions which followed, and which led to the Christmas ghost story tradition which we picture today. This tradition may even have extended into publishing, as The Castle of Otranto, generally acknowledged as one of the first if not the first Gothic novel, was published on Christmas Eve, 1764. Such sociable festive entertainments continued into the nineteenth century, although they were increasingly seen as rural and antiquated.

While the reviewer mentions the provenance of The Haunted Man as a Christmas story, no consideration is made of the relevance of this to its supernatural narrative, or to its being shown in June. However, there were stage shows of a ghostly and phantasmagorical nature shown at Christmas during this period, indicating that there was still a social element to a good horror show for the season. For example, an 1863 article on ‘The Christmas Face of London’ describes how the children ‘are clamorous for the appearance of the ghost at the Polytechnic, hailing his apparition with shuddering delight, which dissolves by degrees into saucy familiarity’ (Anon.

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