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'The Amazing Mr Blunden' arrives for Christmas — our guide to the spooky tale starring Tamsin Greig, Simon Callow and Mark Gatiss

'The Amazing Mr Blunden' has just started filming.
'The Amazing Mr Blunden' has just started filming. (Image credit: Sky)

The Amazing Mr Blunden was a much-loved hit movie from 1972, which scared every child of the era who watched it! With its mysterious Victorian old gentleman appearing from nowhere at Christmas, a creepy stately home with ghostly children wandering around it, plus a pair of horrible villains and a dark tragedy, it had all the ingredients of a dark Gothic tale to remember! Now Sky Originals has started filming the same story in time for the festive season, starring Simon Callow, Tamsin Greig and Mark Gatiss, who has also adapted and written the script. He's also the director. 

Mark Gatiss says: 'Everything about The Amazing Mr Blunden is magical. A ghost story with a sentimental heart. A costume drama with a time-travelling twist. Scary villains, melancholy, laughter and joy. I first came across the wonderful original film at primary school when it was shown on a battered old projector on that most hallowed of occasions - the last Friday before the Christmas holidays. In our new version, as in the book, the Allen family are very much from the modern world. I can’t wait to share the adventure with a whole new audience.'

Jon Mountague, Director of Comedy at Sky Studios, adds: 'When we learnt that the incomparable Mark Gatiss wanted to update this absolute classic for the 21st century, we thought all our Christmases had come at once. The Amazing Mr Simon Callow and Tamsin Greig complete a trio of national treasures, and introducing an incredible young cast alongside, we couldn’t be prouder – roll on Christmas!'

So here's all we know about this new version of The Amazing Mr Blunden, plus a catch-up about the 1972 film if you haven't yet seen it.

The Amazing Mr Blunden release date

Filming of The Amazing Mr Blunden has got underway in Kent and Sky have announced the 90-minute film will be coming this Christmas. We'll guess like most Sky Originals that it'll be shown on new channel Sky Max (formerly Sky One) but this isn't yet confirmed. It will definitely be available through the NOW service. No word yet on an US or worldwide release date although NBCUniversal Global Distribution will handle international sales of the film on behalf of Sky Studios.

What happens in The Amazing Mr Blunden...

This adaptation of The Amazing Mr Blunden starts in the modern day and follows London teenagers Jamie and Lucy who are visited at Christmas by a mysterious old man, Mr Blunden, who offers their mum the opportunity to become the caretaker of a ruined country house that might be haunted. She eventually accepts the offer and at their new home, in the neglected, overgrown grounds of the large house, Jamie and Lucy encounter what appear to be a pair of ghost children. But these spooky kids, Sara and Georgie, aren’t actually ghosts. They’ve travelled forwards in time from 1821 to seek help as they believe they’re going to be murdered by evil Mr and Mrs Wickens. The key to everything in both eras seems to be the one and only Mr Blunden! Can Jamie and Lucy save Sara and Georgie and get to the bottom of the mystery behind The Amazing Mr Blunden?

The Amazing Mr Blunden cast — Simon Callow as Mr Blunden

Simon Callow

Simon Callow is mysterious Mr Blunden in 'The Amazing Mr Blunden'. (Image credit: Getty)

If you ever needed a Victorian looking gentleman to play Mr Blunden, then Simon Callow would surely be top of the list! Acclaimed stage actor Simon, has starred in everything from hit film Four Weddings and A Funeral to Benjamin

The Amazing Mr Blunden cast — Tamsin Greig as Mrs Wickens

Tamsin Greig on the red caret

Tamsin Greig will play evil Mrs Wickens in 'The Amazing Mr Blunden'.  (Image credit: Getty)

Tamsin Greig has some tough boots to fill after Diana Dors memorable performance as Mrs Wickens in the 1972 film (see below). Totally selfish and with evil plots running through every bone in her hardened body, we can't wait to see how Tamsin portrays her.

Tamsin Grieg is of course an acclaimed comedy star with hits shows such as Green Wing, Love Soup, Episodes with Matt Le Blanc) and Friday Night Dinner behind her. She recently took on a more serious role in the Julian Fellowes' costume drama Belgravia.

Diana Dors in the 1972 film of The Amazing Mr Blunden.Note: despite the black and white picture here, the film is definitely in colour.

Diana Dors as awful Mrs Wickens in the 1972 movie The Amazing Mr Blunden. Note: despite the black and white picture above, the film is definitely in colour. (Image credit: Alamy)

The Amazing Mr Blunden cast — Mark Gatiss as Mr Wickens

Mark Gatiss

Mark Gatiss plays Mr Wickens in 'The Amazing Mr Blunden'. (Image credit: Getty)

Mark Gatiss plays Mr Wickens, the dastardly husband of Mrs Wickens who is well and truly under her thumb and seems to do all her dirty work. Mark is of course known as a writer/actor for many projects, including Sherlock, Dracula and Doctor Who. He became famous however for his roles in the hit comedy The League Of Gentlemen.

The Amazing Mr Blunden cast — who else is starring

For the all-important children in The Amazing Mr Blunden, Tsion Habte and Jason Rennie play Lucy and Jamie Allen, alongside India Fowler and newcomer Xavier Wilkins as Sara and Georgie Latimer. Of these India is probably the best known for her roles in Netflix dramas Safe and White Lines. Tsion Habte starred in ITV drama Liar, while Jason Rennie starred in BBC1 drama The Capture.

The Amazing Mr Blunden trailer

As filming of The Amazing Mr Blunden has only just started and continues over the summer months, there aren't any pictures yet from set, let alone a trailer. But with the release date being Christmas 2021, we're sure a trailer will arrive in the autumn and we'll definitely post it then!

The Amazing Mr Blunden — all about the hit 1972 film  

Laurence Naismith in the 1972 film of The Amazing Mr Blunden.

Laurence Naismith in the 1972 movie The Amazing Mr Blunden. Note: despite the black and white picture above, the film is definitely in colour. (Image credit: Alamy)

The Amazing Mr Blunden is adapted from the 1969 novel ‘The Ghosts’ by Antonia Barber. The hit film in 1972 was directed by Lionel Jeffries, who already had big success directing hit 1970 movie The Railway Children and it was produced by Barry Levinson (Bugsy, Rain Main). Set in the early 1900s, Laurence Naismith (Scrooge, A Night To Remember, The Persuaders) played the top-hatted Victorian gentleman Mr Blunden who paid a visit to the Allen family at Christmas which set them on their dark adventure. 

Anyone who's seen the 1972 film won't ever forget blonde beauty Diana Dors forgoing any of her sex appeal to play the warty old crow Mrs Wickens who screamed 'Wickensssss!' at her husband any time she wanted something, and this included plotting against the children of the house in The 1800s! Mr Wickens was then played by David Lodge.

Playing Lucy Allen in 1972 was 17-year-old Lynn Frederick who went on to marry film comedy legend Peter Sellers. As his widow she hit many troubles and sadly died in 1994 aged just 39. Gary Miller (The Strauss Family) played young Jamie Allen.

Look out too for Graham Crowden (Waiting For God) as solicitor's clerk Mr Clutterbuck, who is perplexed when the Allen family arrive at his office, sent there by Mr Blunden.