Advertisement
Culture

Christmas ghost stories: 5 of the best festive phantoms

From Dickens to Doctor Who, Christmas ghost stories are a proud British tradition.

What could be more festive than getting round a roaring fire to chill your bones with some Christmas ghost stories?

The Christmas ghost story has been a British tradition for hundreds of years. Of course, today we primarily think of Charles Dickens and his redemptive spirits of past, present and future, but A Christmas Carol is just part of a rich heritage.

Here, we pick our five favourite ghosts to put a shiver in your December.

The Ghost of Christmas Present, The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)

“Come in and know me better man!” The second of Ebenezer Scrooge’s three spectral visitors in Dickens’ classic A Christmas Carol is the voice of social reform and goodwill to all men. In the Muppets’ sublime adaptation, he’s a merry, giant figure, who teaches an important lesson in song: “Wherever you find love it feels like Christmas”.

Austin the Twice-Born, “The Stalls of Barchester” – A Ghost Story for Christmas (1971)

Aside from Dickens, M.R. James is the most renowned teller of the festive spooky story. His position was affirmed in large part to the BBC’s 1970s adaptations of his work, which would traditionally be aired on Christmas Eve. The Stalls of Barchester was the first of these and is an atmospheric tale, in which a murderous Archdeacon gets his comeuppance under the influence of cursed carvings, crafted by the fantastically named Austin the Twice-Born.

Sir Roger Widdowson, “The Knocker”Crooked House (2008)

A connoisseur of the creepy, Mark Gatiss has done more than anyone to revive Christmas ghost stories as a British seasonal tradition. In 2008’s Crooked House, illusionist Derren Brown made a rare acting appearance as a deceased necromancer whose evil influence reaches through time. Gatiss will again haunt the Christmas schedules this year with his take on M.R. James’ The Mezzotint.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Subscribe to The Big Issue

From just £3 per week

Take a print or digital subscription to The Big Issue and provide a critical lifeline to our work. With each subscription we invest every penny back into supporting the network of sellers across the UK. A subscription also means you'll never miss the weekly editions of an award-winning publication, with each issue featuring the leading voices on life, culture, politics and social activism.

The weeping woman from One Who Saw: A Ghost Story for Christmas by A.M. Burrage (1931)

Published for Christmas 1931, One Who Saw is Burrage’s masterwork. The mere sight of the ghostly weeping woman at its heart has so affected one luckless young writer that his hair has turned from a blue-black reminiscent of “patent leather” to pure white.

Astrid Peth, “Voyage of the Damned”, Doctor Who (2007)

A self-sacrificing spirit, Doctor Who and Kylie… Who wouldn’t want that under their tree? In 2007’s Christmas special, Kylie joins David Tennant’s Doctor as a one-off companion, ultimately laying down her life to save a space Titanic from meeting the same fate as its Earth-bound namesake.

Advertisement

Support your local vendor

Want to buy a copy of the magazine? We have over 1,200 Big Issue vendors in the UK. Each vendor buys a copy of the mag for £1.50 and sells it for £3, keeping the difference. Visit our interactive map to find your nearest vendor and support them today!

Recommended for you

Read All
Stranger Things star David Harbour says Gandalf and Han Solo inspired Hopper’s ‘resurrection’
TV

Stranger Things star David Harbour says Gandalf and Han Solo inspired Hopper’s ‘resurrection’

Grand Designs people are not like the rest of us
TV

Grand Designs people are not like the rest of us

From sofa surfing to the stage: This artistic director wants to give people experiencing homelessness a new lease of life
Homelessness

From sofa surfing to the stage: This artistic director wants to give people experiencing homelessness a new lease of life

The Derry Girls finale: sublime television – poignant, political and properly funny
TV

The Derry Girls finale: sublime television – poignant, political and properly funny

Most Popular

Read All
The remarkable rise of Ncuti Gatwa: From sofa surfing and Sex Education to Doctor Who
1.

The remarkable rise of Ncuti Gatwa: From sofa surfing and Sex Education to Doctor Who

Boris Johnson set to scrap plan to let workers keep tips despite admitting minimum wage isn’t enough to live on
2.

Boris Johnson set to scrap plan to let workers keep tips despite admitting minimum wage isn’t enough to live on

Life On Mars sequel has ‘a lot of travelling in time and car chases’, John Simm reveals
3.

Life On Mars sequel has ‘a lot of travelling in time and car chases’, John Simm reveals

The controversial new laws rushed through by the government this week
4.

The controversial new laws rushed through by the government this week

Keep up to date with The Big Issue. The leading voice on life, politics, culture and social activism direct to your inbox.