Sherlock co-creator Mark Gatiss has adapted Arthur Conan Doyle’s short story Lot No. 249 for the BBC as part of its 2023 winter schedule and in keeping with his recent tradition of writing and directing a ghost story for Christmas.  Previous festive tales from Gatiss have included The Tractate Middoth (2013), The Dead Room (2018), Martin’s Close (2019) The Mezzotint (2021) and Count Magnus (2022) – four of which were based on works by M.R James.

The latest project is the first time Gatiss has penned a Conan Doyle horror story for television having previously adapted various Sherlock Holmes novels in Sherlock (co-written with Steven Moffat).

The upcoming story revolves around a group of Oxford students, one of whom undertakes research into the secrets of Ancient Egypt which become the talk of the college.  “Can these experiments truly breathe life to the horrifying bag of bones which is the mysterious Lot. No 249?”

Kit Harington (Game of Thrones, Gunpowder) stars as Abercrombie Smith and Freddie Fox (The Great, Slow Horses) as Edward Bellingham. Rounding off the cast are Colin Ryan (Boundless), John Heffernan (Dracula), James Swanton (Stopmotion), Jonathan Rigby (Father Brown) and Andrew Horton (Slotherhouse). 

Writer and Director Mark Gatiss says: “It’s a serious delight for me to delve once again into the brilliant work of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, this time for the Christmas Ghost story. Lot No.249 is personal favourite and is the grand-daddy (or should that be Mummy?) of a particular kind of end of Empire chiller: a ripping yarn packed with ghastly scares and who-knows-what lurking in the Victorian closet…”

Principal photography has recently concluded on the project which filmed in Hertfordshire.

Lot No. 249, a ghost story for Christmas is produced by Adorable Media for BBC Arts and will air on BBC Two this Christmas.

Jon Creamer

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