A YORK actor and writer, who is set to star with Mark Gatiss and Kit Harington in this year’s BBC Christmas Ghost Story, will be reviving his Dickensian Ghost Stories here in the city this Christmas.

James Swanton – soon to be seen in Lot No. 249, this year’s BBC Christmas Ghost Story – will be reviving Ghost Stories for Christmas at York Medical Society in Stonegate.

The Northern Echo: Mark Gatiss is behind the BBC ventureMark Gatiss is behind the BBC venture

The performance is made up of James’s solo renditions of A Christmas Carol, The Chimes and The Haunted Man. It will play select dates in York from November 27 to December 11 before transferring to London’s Charles Dickens Museum in the run-up to Christmas.

The Northern Echo: James in The Haunted Man James in The Haunted Man (Image: Alex Hyndman)

"I’m starting and finishing my run in York a little earlier than usual, mainly because there’s been such demand for the shows in London," said James.

"But York’s winding alleyways and tumbledown buildings are so beautifully suited to Dickens that it would have been inconceivable to strike it from my schedule. There really couldn’t be a more fitting venue than York Medical Society.

"Accordingly, I’ll be giving six performances of A Christmas Carol – you can never have too much of it, particularly with this year being its 180th anniversary. There’ll also be two showings apiece of The Chimes and The Haunted Man, both lesser-known but fascinating follow-ups.

"All three stories are richly rewarding. They brim with Dickens’s eye for capturing the weird, the strange and the odd, from human eccentricities to full-blown phantoms. Dickens’s anger at social injustice also aligns sharply with our own – and of course, there’s a lot to be angry about at the moment.

"But beyond anything, these stories are masterful exercises in theatrical storytelling, with a real sense of joy emerging from the Victorian gloom.’ Since last December’s run of Ghost Stories for Christmas, James has been hard at work on various filming jobs.

"It’s been my year for Christmas ghost stories. At the start of 2023, I made two short films – The Dead of Winter and To Fire You Come at Last – that were indebted to the BBC’s legendary M R James adaptations from the 1970s.

"And then, a few months ago, Mark Gatiss asked me to play the ghost in the latest of the current BBC films."

Although the precise broadcast time is still to be announced, viewers will be able to see James in Lot No. 249, Gatiss’s retelling of an Arthur Conan Doyle short story, in a cast led by Kit Harington and Freddie Fox.

The Northern Echo: The cast list is led by Game of Thrones star Kit HaringtonThe cast list is led by Game of Thrones star Kit Harington

"Obsessed with the Gothic as I am, it was a dream fulfilled to become a part of this great tradition. I’d just performed with Gatiss in a stage production of The Quatermass Experiment," said James

"He’s steeped in Conan Doyle, and his adaptation is at once gratifyingly faithful and wickedly surprising. I’m encased in a particularly ghoulish make-up by Dave Elsey, who won the Oscar for The Wolfman. And I do the most dreadful things to Kit Harington. I’m tremendously excited about it all.

"As well as Lot No. 249, my one-man film of The Haunted Man will be streamed by the Dickens Museum again on December 11. And my on-and-off colleagues the York Ghost Merchants might have a few announcements of their own to come." 

The Northern Echo: James in characterJames in character (Image: Jtu_photography)

Ghost Stories for Christmas runs from November 27 to December 11 at York Medical Society in Stonegate. A Christmas Carol will be performed on November 27, 28 and 30 and December 1, 5 and 6; The Haunted Man is November 29 and December 7; The Chimes is December 4 and 11. All performances start at 7pm and last approximately one hour.

Tickets are now available through the box office at York Theatre Royal: yorktheatreroyal.co.uk