The Silver Archive, Special #1: The Christmas Box by Paul Magrs (Obverse Books, 2017) Paul Magrs takes a nostalgic look at his perennial Christmas viewing—an eclectic mix of programmes taped predominantly from British television during the 70s, 80s and 90s. Although reader engagement will vary according to familiarity with these, the spirit shines through regardless.
The Dead Room: A Ghost Story for Christmas by Mark Gatiss (BBC, 2018) A clever short film written and directed by Mark Gatiss. In essence a two-hander between Anjli Mohindra (as a radio producer) and Simon Callow (a sonorous-voiced actor whose past comes back to haunt him, subverting his narration of a new horror story).
Doctor Who: The Husbands of River Song by Steven Moffat; dir. Douglas Mackinnon (BBC, 2015) The 2015 Christmas Special takes a lighter approach than its predecessor, and not since Blackadder II has a severed head been played for such laughs. Peter Capaldi captures something of each of the first four Doctors while Alex Kingston nails her swansong.
Die Hard dir. John McTiernan (1988) If there’s such a thing as a mainstream cult classic, Die Hard fits the bill with its winning combination of Christmas miracle and base under siege action. Bruce Willis stars as a lone counter-insurgent within an occupied skyscraper. “Yippie ki yay,
Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas dir. Henry Selick (1993) Cue the skeleton: “If Christmas fills your heart with woe, a schmaltz-fest souring your December maybe you’ll prefer macabre stop-motion Halloween adventures (but) Disney brings the curse of singing, rhymes so trying, Walt’s will lurking Elfman’s lyrics don’t deliver Burton’s dark disturbance.”