Wednesday, 28 December 2011

A Ghost Story For Xmas: Stigma

I don't understand the BBC. In the sixties and seventies they went about wiping their archive so that they could use the tapes again, depriving licence payers of some priceless shows, now presumed lost for ever in favour of The Queen's Speech and golf.

Then, in more enlightened times, they realised their mistake and scuttled all over the world trying to buy back missing episodes sold to less short-sighted broadcasting corporations, turning up old Dr Who episodes in Hong Kong and Nigeria and making out it was some sort of triumph for Auntie, which I suppose it was in terms of revenue from video and DVD releases.

Now, despite the digital revolution, despite the growth of 'on demand' broadcasting, despite the falling production costs of DVD's, despite having not one, not two, but four television channels at their disposal, they still sit impassively on the bulk of what's left of their archive, occasionally sneaking bits out here and there in bite sized nano seasons, usually cut up into unsatisfying chunks and interspersed with inane commentary from some halfwitted talking head.

When they occasionally do happen across the right thing, like broadcasting the brilliant 'Ghost Story For Christmas' series at Christmas, and even commissioning a couple of not bad new episodes, they then have second thoughts after a couple of years and stop showing the old episodes entirely, licensing a random one for an expensive DVD release and throwing the rest back into the dark.

So arseholes to the BBC, here's an IOT-TV 'Ghost Story For Christmas' presentation, 'Stigma' by Clive Exton, originally broadcast thirty four years ago on December 28th, 1977. A rare modern day story, I think it's one of the most chilling of all the tales - no M.R James, no period costume, no ghosts, just a baleful ancient horror, a bloody comeuppance and Peter Bowles.


  1. Spot on Mr Wittering. I was having a similar conversation with a friend of mine on Christmas eve. Why could they not put things like this on BBC 3 or 4 ??????. Sigma is fantastic. Watched it online a while ago very chilling indeed.

  2. I bloody LOVE Stigma! Much better than the wanna-be Aickmanism of the Icehouse, which ended the series on something of a low ebb. Why don't the BBC pull their finger out and issue the whole damn lot in a box set like they've done in Australia? Words fail me...

  3. Thanks for the Chrimbo treat Mr Wittering!
    I would guess that most of us IOT diehards are big fans of the "Ghost Story for Christmas" strand, and it really is ridiculous that the beeb haven't released a boxset as mythicalbeast suggests.
    It's not just horror, of course - I was surprised & delighted to finally get to watch the fab adaptation of Alan Ayckbourn's "Season's Greetings" on BBC4 last week, for the first time in 25 years, and I can only hope that they follow it up with "Way Upstream" sometime soon, though I won't be holding my breath...

    Dazzy Hitch

  4. Watched this on your Vimeo channel, this movie really gave me the creeps. So did your profile picture. Amazing post, great job Mr. Wittering.

  5. I suspect that the current head honchos at the Beeb just don't know this stuff exists. BFI released some of the Christmas Ghost Stories on DVD several years back, but they are well overdue for a reissue. £48 on Ebay for The Signalman about a year ago!
    A boxset of the lot would do nicely. Before I die, preferably.