Mystery and Imagination DVD

Wednesday, 05 August 2009 17:48

Mystery and Imagination is a highly acclaimed anthology series which presented a selection of Gothic tales by major 19th century writers. Among the adapted works featured in this collection are Robert Louis Stevenson’s nihilistic “The Suicide Club”, Sheridan le Fanu’s “Uncle Silas”, Bram Stoker’s classic “Dracula”, and a commendably faithful adaptation of Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein”.

This release from Network DVD contains every remaining episode of the series, bringing together all six of the feature-length teleplays produced by Thames Television between 1968 and 1970, alongside the two remaining ABC-produced episodes from 1966.  Unfortunately, this is one of those shows that the TV archives have not been careful with, with the bulk of the episodes ‘missing believed wiped’.

Mystery and Imagination DVDFrom what remains, we have a distinguished cast flexing their thespian muscles on this range of classic and more obscure literary tomes. This includes the likes of Ian Holm, Denholm Elliot, Susannah York, Jack Hawkins, John Laurie, Lucy Fleming, Dudley Sutton, Richard Vernon, Nina Baden-Semper, Susan George, Peter Sallis, Isobel Black, Patrick Mower and Freddie Jones (who gives an mesmerising performance as the demented barber, Sweeney Todd).

To make this set as complete as the archives will allow, you will find a silent extract from “Casting the Runes”, which is all that exists from this 1968 ABC episode, on Disc Four. You will also find an extensive image gallery, including shots from missing episodes, on Disc One. To help you put it all in context, and fill in the gaps, there’s also an episode guide booklet included, courtesy of archive TV historian Andrew Pixley.

The four disc set is out now - it runs for 580 minutes approx, has a '12' certificate and a RRP of £39.99, or get it for less at




Episode Guide




1.01 - The Lost Stradivarius

A woman is forced to write a letter to her nephew. There are some valuable papers left in a rare violin, which will reveal an ancient, evil plot.

Starring: Peter Ashmore (Dr Empson),  Edward Brayshaw (Adrian Temple), Jeremy Brett (Sir John Maltravers), David Buck (Richard Beckett / Host), Franco De Rosa (Raffaelle), Patricia Garwood (Sophia Maltravers), Joyce Heron (Mrs Temple), Jack Howlett (Parnham), Angela Morant (Constance Temple), Faye Sharp (Emily)

Writer: Owen Holder, from a story by J Meade Falkner

Director: Bill Bain

Original ITV Transmission: 29 January 1966


1.02 – The Body Snatcher

Medical science has limits that should not be crossed, and that includes murder and grave robbing, even if it could benefit mankind…

Starring: Trevor Baxter (Undertaker), David Buck (Host / Richard Beckett), James Cossins (Landlord), Ian Dewar (Richardson), John Garrie (Body Snatcher), Michael Gwynn (Sullivan), Ian Holm (MacFarlane), Michael Johnson (Campbell), John Moffatt (Gray), Ann Ogden (Jane Galbraith), Dermot Tuohy (Body Snatcher)

Writer: Robert Muller, from a story by Robert Louis Stevenson

Director: Toby Robertson

Original ITV Transmission: 5 February 1966


1.03 – The Fall of the House of Usher (DVD disc 4)

A brother and sister are the only ones left living in the Usher family. There is a hereditary disease that causes a hyper-acuteness of the senses and cataleptic states, but is there any escape from it?

Starring: David Buck (Richard Beckett / Host), Denholm Elliott (Roderick Usher), Dudley Jones (Doctor), Oliver MacGreevy (Finn), Mary Miller (Lucy), Susannah York (Madeleine Usher)

Writer: David Campton, from a story by Edgar Allan Poe

Director: Kim Mills

Original ITV Transmission: 12 February 1966


1.04 – The Open Door (DVD disc 4)

A haunted house.  Ghosts at every turn, it would seem.  Is there any way out?

Starring: Jack Hawkins (Colonel Mortimer), Rachel Gurney (Mrs Mortimer), Jill Mai Meredith (Jeanie Mortimer), Henry Beltran (Roland Mortimer), Geoffrey Sumner (Charles), Debbie Bowen (Maid), Molly Weir (Mrs Jarvis), Edmund Sulley (Mr Jarvis), Derek Tansley (Corporal Jones), Mark Dignam (Dr Simson), John Laurie (Mr Moncrieff), Amanda Walker (The Voice)

Writer: George E Kerr, from a story by Mrs Margaret O Oliphant

Director: Joan Kemp-Welch

Original ITV Transmission: 19 February 1966


1.05 – The Tractate Middoth

A librarian encounters the cobweb-covered ghost of a man who has been entombed with his books.

Starring: David Buck (Richard Beckett/Host), Norman Scace (John Eldred), Jerry Verno (Hodgson), Tim Preece (Earle), Giles Block (Davis), Edwin Finn (Rant), Helen Ford (Land Lady), Cyril Renison (Ticket Collector), Barbara Lott (Mrs Simpson), Marian Diamond (Alice Simpson), Will Stampe (Station Master), John Crocker (Porter), Robert Hunter (Carter)

Writer: Dennis Webb, from a story by MR James

Script Editor: Terence Feely

Director: Kim Mills

Original ITV Transmission: 26 February 1966


1.06 – Lost Hearts

An orphaned boy is taken in by an elderly cousin. However, the boy is haunted by the ghosts of two children, and discovers that his cousin’s house holds a terrible secret.

Starring: David Buck (Richard Beckett/Host), Richard Pearson (Mr Abney), Freddie Jones (Parkes), Megs Jenkins (Mrs Bunch), David Dodimead (Rector), Francis Thompson (Stephen Elliott), Darryl Read (Boy), Doy Young (Girl)

Writer: Giles Cooper, from a story by MR James

Script Editor: Terence Feely

Director: Robert Tronson

Original ITV Transmission: 5 March 1966


1.07 – The Canterville Ghost

An American family purchases Canterville Chase. It is up to the young daughter to help break an ancient curse and free the resident ghost.

Starring: David Bauer (Hiram Otis), Eleanor Bron (Hecate), John Falconer (Porson), Bruce Forsyth (Sir Simon de Canterville), Robert Mill (Duke of Cheshire), Libby Morris (Mrs Otis), Colin Pilditch (Star), Darryl Read (Stripe), Doris Rogers (Mrs Umney), David Stoll (Lord Canterville), Angela Thorne (Virginia)

Writer: Giles Cooper, from a story by Oscar Wilde

Director: Kim Mills

Original ITV Transmission: 12 March 1966




2,01 – Room 13

On a visit to Denmark, a historical researcher investigates a mysterious hotel room.

Starring: David Buck (Richard Beckett), Joss Ackland (Herr Scavenius), David Battley (Klaus), George Woodbridge (Herr Kristensen), Tessa Wyatt (Gertrud), Carl Bernard (Herr Jensen), Margery Withers (Frau Mahler)        

Writer: Evelyn Frazer, from a story by MR James

Script Editor: Terence Feely

Director: Patrick Dromgoole 

Original ITV Transmission: 22 October 1966


2.02 - The Beckoning Shadow

A malevolent spirit is hard at work in frightening all-comers to its house of occupation.

Starring: Alan Baulch (John Tippins), David Buck  (Richard Beckett / Host), Elizabeth Knight (Ann), Renny Lister (Lucy Tippins), Julia McCarthy (Ma Murley), Larry Noble (Mickey), Geoffrey Palmer (Turner), Toni Palmer (Polly), Maureen Pryor (Mrs Jones), Edwin Richfield (Dr Jones), John Ronane (Dick Tippins), John Rye (Hal)

Writer: Allan Prior, from the story “Old Mrs Jones” by Mrs JH Riddell

Director: Laurence Bourne

Original ITV Transmission: 29 October 1966


2.03 – The Flying Dragon

An Englishman travelling across Europe is smitten by a beautiful woman. However, his quest is made complicated when he encounters vampires.

Starring: Ann Bell (Countess de St Valyre), John Bryans (Baines), David Buck (Richard Beckett / Host), Mark Burns (Tom Whistlewick), John Franklyn-Robbins (Magician), Robert James (Carmaignac), John Moffatt (Marquis d'Harmonville), Aubrey Morris (Waiter), John Phillips (Colonel Gaillarde), Derek Smith (Count de St Valyre)

Writer: John Bowen, from the story “The Room in the Dragon Volant” by Sheridan Le Fanu

Director: Bill Bain

Original ITV Transmission: 5 November 1966


2.04 – Carmilla

The spirit of a female ancestor, who turns out to have been a vampire, possesses a member of the Karnstein family.

Starring: Terence Bayler (Nemeth), Vernon Dobtcheff (Dr Lutz), Sonia Dresdel (Countess), Michael Henderson (Boy), Roy Marsden (Captain Battenburg), Laurel Mather (Mlle La Fontaine), Jane Merrow (Carmilla), Aubrey Morris (Willibald), Joseph O'Conor (General), Natasha Pyne (Laura)

Writer: Stanley Miller, from a story by Sheridan Le Fanu

Director: Bill Bain

Original ITV Transmission: 12 November 1966


2.05 – The Phantom Lover

A tale that is a psychoanalytical ghost story, with a spirit that may, or may not, be a figment of the imagination.

Starring: Richard Arthure (Christopher Lovelock), David Buck (Richard Beckett / Host), Gil Coventry (Butler), Robert Hardy (William Oke), Anthony Lindford (Travis), Virginia McKenna (Mrs Oke), John Sharp (Dr Peters)

Writer: George E Kerr, from the story “Oke of Okehurst”, or “The Phantom Love”r by Vernon Lee (aka Violet Paget)

Director: Robert Tronson

Original ITV Transmission: 19 November 1966




3.01 – Casting The Runes (silent extract on DVD disc 4)

A man possessing demonic powers kills his enemies by secretly passing them pieces of parchment, all with a curse written in runes.

Starring: John Fraser (Dunning), Robert Eddison (Karswell), Gordon Jackson (Gayton), Basil Henson (Dr Ramsay) Ronald Pember (Conductor), Julie Wallace (Ellen), Michael Lees (Harrington), Richard Huggett (Mason), Michael Rothwell (Vicar), Neal Arden (Driver), Henry Kay (Attendant), John Barrett (Coachman), Robert Hunter (Railwayman)

Writer: Evelyn Frazer, from a story by MR James

Script Editor: Brian Brooke

Director: Alan Cooke

Original ITV Transmission: 22 March 1968


3.02 – The Listener

An old house has a terrifying secret – it is haunted by the ghost of a leper who died there.

Starring: Elizabeth Begley (Mrs Monson), John D'Albie (Chairman), Martin Johnson (Emily's Son), Stuart Latham (Professor Bruce-Williams), Raymond Mason (Dr Tomkins), Mark Moss (Monson), Colette O'Neil (Emily), David Richardson (Dr Argent), Clifford Rose (Dr Chappell), John Savident (Blount), Stella Tanner (Streetwalker), Edward Woodward (Reeve)

Writer: William Trevor, from a story by Algernon Blackwood

Director: Bill Bain

Original ITV Transmission: 29 March 1968


3.03 – A Place of One’s Own

An elderly couple take ownership of a house that is haunted by the ghost of a murdered girl. The spirit then possesses their young live-in companion.

Starring: Joss Ackland (Mr Smedhurst), Margaret Courtenay (Mrs Thatcher), John Crocker (Mr Tidcroft), Kim Goody (Hilary), Kathleen Helme (Miss Bezyre), Megs Jenkins (Mrs Smedhurst), Viola Keats (Mrs Bogarde), Annette Kerr (Mrs Manning), James Kerry (James), Meg Wynn Owen (Ellen), Michael Trubshawe (Major Manning)

Writer: Michael Voysey, from a story by Osbert Sitwell

Director: Jonathan Alwyn

Original ITV Transmission: 5 April 1968


3.04 – The Devil’s Piper

Be sure that you know what you are doing, and all the pitfalls, if you make a pact with the Devil.

Starring: Roddy McMillan, Robert Urquhart, Archie Duncan, Helena Gloag, John Grieve, Robert James, Alex McCrindle

Writer: Hugo Charteris, from a story by Sir Walter Scott

Director: Cyril Coke

Original ITV Transmission: 11 April 1968


3.05 – The Tell-Tale Heart

A murderer finds that there are plenty of ways to be got at from beyond the grave – he is haunted by the sound of his victim's heartbeat.

Starring: Norman Eshley (Jean Lemaistre), Sandra Fehr (Martine), Gillian French (Marguerite), Leslie French (Gaillard), Bob Hornery (Policeman), Freddie Jones (Vaudin), Kenneth J Warren (Vidocq), Antony Webb (Constant Dufour), Avril Yarrow (Julie)

Writer: Peter Van Greenaway, from a story by Edgar Allan Poe

Director: Robert Tronson

Original ITV Transmission: 20 June 1968


3.06 – Feet Foremost

A well-to-do couple take over an old mansion that is haunted by the ghost of an young girl who has evil in her soul. She takes possession of bodies of the living, and then gradually kills them from the inside out…

Starring: Leslie Anderson (Rundle), Trevor Baxter (Canon Tabard), Hazel Coppen (Mrs Mossup), Douglas Fielding (Young Hodge), Michael Golden (Hodge), Fiona Hartford (Maggie), Clive Morton (Major Ampleforth), Fanny Rowe (Mrs Ampleforth), Neil Stacy (Anthony),     Fiona Walker (Lady Elinor), Timothy West (Dr Middleton)

Writer: Charles Graham from a story by LP Hartley

Director: Toby Robertson

Original ITV Transmission: 27 June 1968




4.01 – Uncle Silas (DVD disc 1)

A scheming uncle tries his best to part his trusting young niece from her inheritance.

Starring: Robert Eddison (Silas Ruthyn), Lucy Fleming (Cousin Maud), Patience Collier (Madame de la Rougierre), Dudley Sutton (Dudley Ruthyn), Michael Redd (Young Silas), Reg Peters (Charke), Lally Bowers (Lady Ilbury), John Welsh (Austin Ruthyn), Michael Lynch (Dr Bryerly), Felicity Hain (Millicent 'Milly' Ruthyn), Harry Hutchinson (Giles), Gilbert Wynn (Tom Brice), Christine Noonan (Meg), Roy Godfrey (Hawkes), Ken Campbell (Crabbe), Gwendolyn Watts (Sarah Mangles)

Writer: Stanley Miller, from a story by Sheridan Le Fanu

Director: Alan Cooke

Original ITV Transmission: 4 November 1968


4.02 – Frankenstein (DVD disc 1)

The classic tale of a well-meaning doctor who tries to create a man, but ends up instead with a monster.

Starring: Ian Holm (Frankenstein / Monster), Richard Vernon (Professor Krempe), Neil Stacy (Henry Clerval), Sarah Badel (Elizabeth), Meg Wynn Owen (Justine), Ronald Pember (Fritz), Robert Hunter (Ross), Morag Hood (Anna), Frank Barry (Wilhelm), Gerald Lawson (Dr Waldmann), Michael Francis (Felix), Hamish Roughhead (Gaoler), Mark Moss (Gendarme), Keith Adrian (Double)

Writer: Robert Muller

Story Editor: George Markstein

Director: Voytek

Original ITV Transmission: 11 November 1968


4.03 – Dracula (DVD disc 2)

An excellent adaption of the timeless yarn about a vampire from Transylvania on the lookout for ‘new blood’ in England.

Starring: Bernard Archard (Dr Van Helsing), Nina Baden-Semper (Vampire), Michael Da Costa (Jenkins), Denholm Elliott (Dracula), Susan George (Lucy Weston), Hedley Goodall (Swales), Joan Hickson (Mrs Weston), Tony Lane (Coachman), Marie Legrand (Vampire), James Maxwell (Dr Seward), Helena McCarthy (Mrs Hoskins), Phyllis Morris (Mrs Perkins), Valerie Muller (Vampire), Suzanne Neve (Mina Harker), James Pope (Rowse), Corin Redgrave (Jonathan Harker)

Writer: Charles Graham, based on the novel by Bram Stoker

Director: Patrick Dromgoole

Original ITV Transmission: 18 November 1968




5.01 – The Suicide Club (DVD disc 2) – Colour

When despair takes him over, a man decides to joins a club where your death can be arranged discreetly. However, he begins to have second thoughts when he falls in love with another member of the group.

Starring: Alan Dobie (Prince Florizel), Bernard Archard (President), Hildegard Neil (Woman in Black), David Collings (James Morris), Eric Woolfe (Colonel Geraldyne), Michael Hall (Mataschek), Alan Hay (Bar Pianist), Ivor Danvers (Croupier), Ronald Adam (Sir Montague Malthus), Clyde Pollitt (Bodysnatcher), Jonathan Newth (Lt Brackenbury Rich), Roger Booth (Major O'Rooke)

Writer: Robert Muller

Director: Mike Vardy

Original ITV Transmission: 9 February 1970


5.02 – Sweeney Todd (DVD disc 3) – Colour

The butcherous barber is given another lease of life with a powerful all-star cast.

Starring: Freddie Jones (Sweeney Todd), Heather Canning (Mrs Lovett / Molly), Mel Martin (Charley / Charlotte), Lewis Fiander (Mark Ingestrie), Len Jones (Tobias), Russell Hunter (Crumbles / Dr Fogg / Dr Makepeace), Peter Sallis (Brogden / Mundel / Hopkins), Barry Stanton (Beadle), Charles Morgan (Inspector Field), Peter Gordon (Brewster), Derek Hardwicke (Hardaker), Mark Moss (Cracknell), Leon Collins (Poucher), Billy Smith (Sweeney Jr), Pitt Wilkinson (Face), Alan Hay (Butler), Roger Heathcott (Sergeant Hawthorn)

Writer: Vincent Tilsley, from a story by George Dibdin-Pitt

Director: Robert Collin

Original ITV Transmission: 16 February 1970


5.03 – Curse of the Mummy (DVD disc 3) – Colour

The mummy of an Egyptian Queen is unearthed by an archaeologist. The alarm bells ring in his head when he realises his daughter resembles the Queen.

Starring: Isobel Black (Margaret Trelawny), Patrick Mower (Malcolm Ross), Graham Crowden (Mr Trelawny), Murray Hayne (Sergeant Daw), Donald Churchill (Corbeck), Elizabeth McKewen (Mrs Stone), Ernest Hare (Groom), Alan Haines (Constable Rogers), Frances Alger (Scullery Maid), George Janson (Policeman), Nik Zaran, Gerald Martin (Priests), Jeanette Ranger, Billinda Pharazyn (Priestesses)

Writer: John Russell Taylor, from the novel by Bram Stoker

Director: Guy Verney

Original ITV Transmission: 23 February 1970


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