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 filmed the same story in time for the Christmas TV 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.
"I saw it at school when I was seven, literally on the day we broke up for Christmas. It was like, “is this film made for me? It’s got everything I love!” I’m a slavish devotee of the original, I know every little phrase, I go back to it for solace. So it’s a very personal project."
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!"
Filming on Sky's The Amazing Mr Blunden took place in Kent and wrapped over the summer. See Mark Gatiss' Tweet below.
So here's all we know about Sky's new version of The Amazing Mr Blunden, plus interviews with the cast and a catch-up on the 1972 film if you haven't yet seen it.
That’s a wrap on ‘The Amazing Mr Blunden’! Thanks to a phenomenal cast and crew for making it so very special. See you at Christmas, my dears! @skytv @NOW https://t.co/ugDkvXTXHV pic.twitter.com/OdcY6p8QoCJuly 13, 2021
'The Amazing Mr Blunden' release date
The Amazing Mr Blunden launches on Christmas Eve Friday Dec. 24 at 7pm on Sky Max (formerly Sky One) and Sky Showcase. The 90-minute film will also be available through the NOW service. There's no word yet on a US or worldwide air date although NBCUniversal Global Distribution will handle international sales of the film on behalf of Sky Studios so it could end up on US television, Netflix or Amazon Prime Video. Everything will be updated on The Amazing Mr Blunden US release as soon as we can.
Is there a trailer for 'The Amazing Mr Blunden'?
Yes a trailer for The Amazing Mr Blunden has been released by Sky and it's as spooky and fantastical as we expected. "Do you think you'd be afraid if you saw a ghost?" asks Mr Blunden of the Allen children! Yes we certainly would be! Take a look at all the magic right here...
What happens in Sky's 'The Amazing Mr Blunden'...
This Sky 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 George, 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
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 Reverend Mr. Beebe in A Room With A View.
On playing the title role of Mr Blunden, Simon says: "Mr Blunden is an irresistible character, charming, slightly eccentric, very vulnerable, consumed by guilt. He wants to turn the clock back on what he did – I suppose we’ve all had that feeling at one time or another. He’s been dead for 200 years, roaming the globe looking for redemption – desperate to end his long pilgrimage through time. By manipulating the wheel of time, changing the pattern, he manages to do exactly that – but at great cost to himself and many other people. So, it’s ghost story, a rather bewitching one, but there’s something very serious right at the centre of it. He is not unlike Dickens’s great character Ebenezer Scrooge, except that he doesn’t have to be chivvied into trying to make amends for the past, he’s positively aching to do so."
"It’s a rather complicated plot to describe as I play three different versions of Mr Blunden in different time zones, which brings another dimension to the piece – you certainly get to know Mr B, present, past, to come. For an actor, that means there’s a tremendous amount to get your teeth into."
'The Amazing Mr Blunden' cast — Tamsin Greig on playing Mrs Wickens
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 says: "I’m not often asked to play a proper baddie, although I did in Inside No 9, so maybe there’s something about those League Of Gentlemen that sees pure wickedness at the heart of me," laughs Tamsin. ‘Mark’s letter that came to me with the script said he’d created this ultimate baddie and he couldn’t think of anybody else but me, which I thought was quite rude but also charming. I thought it would be fun to play somebody who you think is irredeemable."
"What motivates her is status. She knows her family are at the bottom of the heap and she hates that. Her daughter has married well, but it’s still these posh children who are going to inherit everything, and that enrages Mrs Wickens. The inevitability of wealth passing into certain hands infuriates her. It’s a class war. She’s like a person who tries to change the direction of a river. She wants to be a social manipulator who changes the flow of money."
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.
'The Amazing Mr Blunden' cast — Mark Gatiss as Mr Wickens
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.
Mark says: "In the book it's based on, The Ghosts by Antonia Barber, the kids are modern. So I thought, “there's something interesting here about making the kids defiantly 2021. Then there'll be much more of a contrast when they go back in time.” So that got me interested. And then I started to think, as with so many things I’ve done, such as Sherlock, Dracula, and Doctor Who, you can honour the thing you love without preserving it in aspic. And the truth is, though the original film is very beloved to those who know it, not many people do know it. It’s such a great story. So I thought, “well, it's 50 years since the original. Why not?” And so I then got very excited about doing it. It was a very swift commission from Sky, and they have been absolutely fantastic."
'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.
Tsion Habte says: "I would describe Lucy as a dreamer. She loves a fairy-tale, but is also sturdy and grounded. She knows herself very well. She’s got such a big heart; she always wants to help everyone. It’s really fun to play that. She is not the typical moody teenager. She talks a lot. Whenever they hit a brick wall, she comes up with new ideas. She’s smart and funny, a big ball of energy. It’s a feelgood story that will bring the family together. At Christmas, you don’t want to gamble with what you’re watching. This film will be loved by everyone, including adults. I hope at the end of it, everyone will walk away with a heart-warming feeling, saying, “I loved that.” It’s the perfect family film for Christmas."
Jason Rennie reveals: 'This story has got everything. I can be a bit of a nerd about time travel. When I knew this was going to be about time travel, I thought, “wow! It doesn’t get much better than this!”
Vinette Robinson plays Lucy and Jamie's mother Christine Allen, who is recently widowed and struggling to bring up her children, also including baby Ben, as she has little income. Vinette previously starred in a well received Doctor Who episode, playing American Civil Rights bus heroine Rosa Parks.
Sam Spruell is playing Sara and George's guardian Uncle Bertie, while Kitty Archer plays Bella Wickens, a musical hall dancer. Bertie is slightly in love with her. Tom Fletcher plays the gardener's teenage son Spike Fearn, who'll do anything for Sara.
'The Amazing Mr Blunden' original movie — all about the hit 1972 film
The Amazing Mr Blunden is adapted from the 1969 novel ‘The Ghosts’ by Antonia Barber (opens in new tab). 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.
More Christmas shows to enjoy...
- A Christmas Number One
- Robin Robin on Netflix
- Call the Midwife 2021 Christmas special
- Single All The Way on Netflix
- The Last Train To Christmas
- Ghosts Christmas Special 2021
- The Larkins Christmas Special
- Hansel and Gretel: After Ever After
- Terry Pratchett’s The Abominable Snow Baby
- Death in Paradise Christmas special
- Worzel Gummidge Christmas 2021
- The Amazing Mr Blunden
- A Boy Called Christmas
- The Mezzotint
- The Hairy Bikers Go North For Christmas
- Blankety Blank Christmas Special 2021
- The Wall vs. Celebrities Christmas Special
- The Voice Kids Christmas 2021
- All Star Musicals At Christmas on ITV
- Best Christmas movies
- Best Christmas movies on Disney Plus
- Best Christmas movies on Netflix
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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