A Ghost Story For Christmas: Count Magnus — air date, cast, plot, trailer and Jason Watkins on his spooky drama 

A Ghost Story For Christmas: Count Magnus on BBC2 is a spooky horror starring Jason Watkins.
A Ghost Story For Christmas: Count Magnus on BBC2 is a spooky horror starring Jason Watkins. (Image credit: BBC)

A Ghost Story For Christmas: Count Magnus is a Mark Gatiss produced ghost story for BBC2 which stars Jason Watkins and is guaranteed to give you more than a few chills. 

Jason leads the cast in the 2023 adaptation of M.R. James horror novel Count Magnus (opens in new tab), as he plays Victoria era travel writer Mr Wraxhall who journeys to a grand stately home in Sweden owned by Froken de la Gardia, played by MyAnna Buring. 

There, Wraxhall uncovers a mystery about her ancient ancestor Count Magnus and becomes increasingly obsessed by his tomb. But will his curiosity lead to his downfall? 

Here's everything you need to know about A Ghost Story For Christmas: Count Magnus on BBC2...

Swedish aristocrat Froken de la Gardia is played by MyAnna Buring.

Swedish aristocrat Froken de la Gardia is played by MyAnna Buring. (Image credit: BBC)

A Ghost Story For Christmas: Count Magnus air date 

A Ghost Story For Christmas: Count Magnus is a 30-minute special that airs on BBC2 on Friday December 23 2022 at 10pm. It will then become available on BBCiPlayer. If there's an international air date we'll update.

Is there a trailer for A Ghost Story For Christmas: Count Magnus?

Yes we're in luck as the BBC did eventually release a trailer for A Ghost Story For Christmas: Count Magnus. Chills will really be looking for spines to run up if this trailer has anything to go by! Take a look below...

A Ghost Story For Christmas: Count Magnus plot 

Set in 1863, the story follows the inquisitive Mr Wraxhall to Sweden, where he visits an imposing home owned by the relatives of Count Magnus. Everyone in the village is reluctant to speak of the Count but Wraxhall does hear a story about how he travelled to the Holy Land on most unholy business. Wraxhall becomes obsessed with finding out more about the story, especially when he learns the Count’s is buried in the grounds of the house. But it seems the Count does not rest easy in his tomb. 

What terrors await poor Mr Wraxhall?

What terrors await poor Mr Wraxhall? (Image credit: BBC)

A Ghost Story For Christmas: Count Magnus cast

Leading the A Ghost Story For Christmas: Count Magnus cast is Jason Watkins who is a regular on our screens, having starred in Line of Duty, Des, McDonald & Dodds, A Very English Scandal and Hold The Sunset. He plays Winston Churchill in SAS: Rogue Heroes and Bernard Fortescue in Around the World in 80 Days. He’s also starred in the Nativity movies, Trollied and The Golden Compass. He played British Prime Minister Harold Wilson in The Crown.

MyAnna Buring (The Witcher) plays Froken de la Gardie while Krister Henriksson is the narrator. Max Bremer (Bordertown) is Nielsen, Allan Corduner (Homeland) plays the Deacon and Jamal Ajala (The Witcher) is Gustav.

Max Bremer is Neilsen.

Max Bremer is local priest Neilsen.  (Image credit: BBC)

Interview: Jason Watkins on starring in A Ghost Story For Christmas: Count Magnus

What can you tell us about the story of A Ghost Story For Christmas: Count Magnus? 
Jason says: "It’s a classic ghost story in a more literary vein but I don’t mean that in a dry way. I suppose I would say it’s very well crafted and written and constructed and well observed and there’s lots of detail. It’s a classic ghost story with a bit of horror - a bit of a throwback to the Hammer House of Horrors with an element of Dracula and all of those classics. There’s a Dracula type figure and there’s a story and a secret and a little bit of horror. I suppose what I particularly like about it is there’s a lot of psychology to it. There’s always something hidden in these ghost stories, it’s not just about a good story with perhaps a surprising ending that takes everybody by surprise.

Had you read the book before taking the part? 
Jason says:
"No, I wasn’t familiar with M.R. James at all so when people started saying Jamesian this and that I realised it was a kind of genre in itself. Then I had to work out what was the best way to approach it."

Can you tell us a bit about Wraxhall…
Jason says: "Wraxhall is a particular character that James seems to relish. He’s a bit like James himself in that he’s a kind of academic and slightly institutionalised. Wraxhall is the epitome of curiosity killed the cat. He just doesn’t see the signs. He sees people as a kind of audience for his own ego. He’s written one travel book but the way he talks you’d think he’s some sort of international biographer. He’s got a streak of vanity in him and shows that if you are selfish and don’t read the signs and don’t come up to speed in certain situations you are going to be in trouble." 

What does he come up against? 
Jason says: "He journeys to this rather magnificent house in Sweden which is where an old ancient family live with lots of secrets and candles and dark shadows and a deaf butler. There’s something very strange afoot and he wants to research this family because he thinks he’s found something really amazing and intricate and that nobody else would dream of pursuing this, when really it’s quite boring. He is actually rather boring himself. Then there’s a story that is told to him in the local inn, an ancient story that happened in the village and he gets intrigued by it. He’s intrigued by this Count Magnus who is an ancestor of the family but whenever his name is mentioned, everyone goes silent. He just doesn’t read the signs. He gets obsessed by Magnus’s tomb which is in the grounds of the house and there are unusual consequences."

What do you think makes the story so spooky? 
Jason says:
"I think partly it is that emotional response from the other characters whenever Magnus is mentioned. That story is pretty shocking and the horror starts there. Wraxhall is way out of his depth. There’s just a foreboding and a really extreme ending, that’s what I like about it. As we go through it there is a kind of bubbling threat and weirdness and oddness and as a viewer I can imagine it’s quite uncomfortable."

Talking of uncomfortable, how did you find the wig? 
Jason says: "I loved the wig. As a balding man I’m always quick to jump on a wig. It was good because I watched a couple of stills and I did look a bit more like those figures in Hammer House of Horror. I rather liked that. He’s rather frivolous and trivial Wraxhall and you just think if only he had a bit more substance. The costume is fantastic, it plays to his vanity." 

Why do ghost stories work so well at Christmas?
Jason reveals: "I think my generation is used to ghost stories being told at Christmas, with a glass of brandy and a hot fire. I think it’s the long, dark nights isn’t it? And the unusualness of Christmas. It’s a time all of its own that is all very heightened and people are either stressed or very happy. It’s a weird time. There’s a closeness with families and that lends itself to telling stories and also Father Christmas in the mid European sense was a slightly darker figure. There’s a darker element and I think it comes out of that. But ultimately people like being scared."

Do horror films scare you? 
Jason says: "I do get scared but my wife doesn’t flinch. There’s one horror movie called The Ring that got her but apart from that she’s fearless whereas I do get a bit antsy and I hide behind the sofa. I like stories about psychology with one character having to gain power over another one by ill means. That sort of thing is as terrifying as Friday 13th."

What scares you in real life? 
Jason says: "I’m not good with mice. We had a mouse in our flat some time ago and I just didn’t like it. I don’t mind spiders, they are alright." 

Do you enjoy being part of our Christmas TV viewing? 
Jason says: "It’s nice being on at Christmas. The last few years I’ve had something on. I think Round the World in 80 days was on last year. And some of the Victoria Wood stuff gets shown and Nativity. The Nativity film is always on, all year round. It is nice to do something because all the family can watch it together. It’s nice to be contributing."

Jason Watkins as Victorian travel writer Mr Wraxhall.

Jason Watkins as Victorian travel writer Mr Wraxhall. (Image credit: BBC)
Nicholas Cannon
TV Content Director on TV Times, What's On TV and TV & Satellite Week

I'm a huge fan of television so I really have found the perfect job, as I've been writing about TV shows, films and interviewing major television, film and sports stars for over 25 years. I'm currently TV Content Director on What's On TV, TV Times, TV and Satellite Week magazines plus Whattowatch.com. I previously worked on Woman and Woman's Own in the 1990s. Outside of work I swim every morning, support Charlton Athletic football club and get nostalgic about TV shows Cagney & Lacey, I Claudius, Dallas and Tenko. I'm totally on top of everything good coming up too.

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