What’s On TV – A Warning To The Curious

List Item:  Watch half of the 1001 TV Series You Must Watch Before You Die
Progress: 173/501
Title: A Warning To The Curious
Episodes Aired: 1
Episodes Watched: 1
Year(s): 1972
Country: UK

Happy Halloween everybody! What better way to get into the spirit than a ghost story, eh? True A Warning To The Curious is one of the BBC’s old A Ghost Story For Christmas, but a ghost story is a ghost story!

Following the pattern of the A Ghost Story For Christmas series A Warning To The Curious is an adaptation of one of the many ghost stories written by English author M. R. James. We will be returning to this series of ghost stories in the future as there are numerous entries from this series on the 1001 list.

In a nutshell, A Warning To The Curious is about an amateur archaeologist who goes to a remote town in Norfolk in search of a legendary crown. The crown itself has been guarded by members of a family (we see a member of this family hacking to death a would-be discoverer of the crown) until the death of the last of their line. Ghostliness ensues.

Having watched this I can think of two stage directions that would be prevalent:

  1. ‘exit, persued by ghost’ – because of how often we see the main character being chased by a ghost
  2. ‘enter, suddenly’ – because the villagers just randomly appear as if from nowhere. Especially the hotel clerk. He’s the absolute worst.

The 1001 book refers to this story as being spine-chilling, however I was not that convinced. Over the first 20-odd minutes it was hard not to see parts of it as a horror comedy. The strange hotel clerk and the weird skeleton in an antique were so in need of mockery.

It does ramp up once he digs up the crown. There is a scene in a dark hotel room where things feel tense, but apart from that it was very tame. Sure it’s 50 minutes on the BBC and it airs around Christmas, but there was a lack of menace here (even though Peter Vaughan was brought in for menace… apparently). I know that some of the other, and more recent, ghost stories are able to pull this off a bit better so I look forward to sampling them at some point down the line.

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