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The Ghosts of Christmas Yet to Come, ranked by freakiness

From Mickey Mouse to Muppets to Scrooged, Spirited, and the great classics

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You probably all know the story of Charles Dickens’ endlessly adapted 1843 holiday story A Christmas Carol , even if you’ve never read it. Tight-fisted, mean old miser Ebenezer Scrooge falls asleep on Christmas Eve and is visited by three spirits: the Ghost of Christmas Past, a man in a sleeping cap; the Ghost of Christmas Present, a rotund, jolly fellow; and the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, a harrowing, silent specter of death. These three ghosts convince our miserly man to change his ways, but the third one does the heavy lifting, showing Scrooge how soon he’ll be dead and buried, while nobody mourns his passing.

In the text, Dickens describes the ghost as “shrouded in a deep black garment, which concealed its head, its face, its form, and left nothing of it visible save one outstretched hand.” This leaves a lot of leeway for adaptations to interpret, and A Christmas Carol is one of the most-adapted works of fiction of all time.

So in the holiday spirit, I decided to watch every film version and evaluate them on one single criteria: How scary do they make the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come? Don your sleeping cap and come with us on a journey into holiday horror.

60. A Sesame Street Christmas Carol (2006)

A robot “ghost” that looks like an egg with a christmas wreath on it floats over grouch in Sesame Street Christmas Carol

If you were going into this one expecting to be spooked, I don’t know what to tell you. Oscar the Grouch as Scrooge contends with a CGI floating robot with googly eyes as the Ghost of Christmas Future. We get it, you don’t want to terrify the preschoolers, but there’s a reason it’s lowest on the list.

59. A Christmas Carol (1954)

A rave in a black and white image from A Christmas Carol (1954)

Fredric March stars as Scrooge in this, the first color televised version of the tale. Unfortunately, the only surviving version is a black and white kinescope. In a strange choice, the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come doesn’t appear in human form at all. Instead, a myna bird caws Scrooge to the graveyard, where he finds not only his grave, but also Tiny Tim’s.

58. Christmas Cupid (2010)

Typical smug bastard dressed as santa in Christmas Cupid (2010)

Christina Milian is the Scrooge figure in this ABC Family holiday comedy, and the three ghosts are her ex-boyfriends. Depending on your relationship history, this might seem scarier than it is. The third ghost is her boss, who she is also dating, dressed up like Santa Claus. He tells her that in the terrible future to come, they get married, then divorced. Bummer. Fortunately, as part of amending her wicked ways after the ghostly visitation, she dumps him.

57. Ghosts of Girlfriends Past (2009)

A woman in a sparkly dress floats over the snowcovered woods in Ghosts of Girlfriends Past (2009)

It’s a stretch, but this Matthew McConaughey rom-com is based on the Dickens story, so it counts. The “Ghost of Girlfriends Future” that shows McConaughey’s womanizer protagonist Connor Mead the error of his ways is played by stunning Russian model Olga Maliouk, dressed in white rather than the traditional black cloak.

56. Rich Little’s Christmas Carol (1978)

scrooge in his old timely nightgown sitting on a desk next to Christmas Future, a man in a trenchcoat

It’s almost impossible to explain how popular comedic impersonator Rich Little was in the 1970s, but “HBO gave him a Christmas special in which he played every single role of A Christmas Carol as a different celebrity character” might do it. Scrooge is Rich Little as W.C. Fields, and the Ghost of Christmas Future is Little playing Peter Sellers as the Pink Panther movies’ Inspector Clouseau. So not scary, but extremely weird.

55. The Smurfs: A Christmas Carol (2011)

A smurfy finger points out from a dark cloak at another smurf in The Smurfs: A Christmas Carol (2011)

The real revelation here is that Grouchy Smurf (the Scrooge of the story) acts like a dick all the time because Papa Smurf gives him a hat every year for Christmas. The ghost is Hefty Smurf. Not scary unless you have a phobia of gym bros.

54. My Dad Is Scrooge (2014)

A dog stands on the carpet in My Dad Is Scrooge (2014)

This is probably the only Christmas Carol where Scrooge gets headbutted by a llama. Our miser here is a farmer named EB, who is taught the magic of the season by a trio of talking animals. The third one is a dog that hypnotizes EB . This thing is so cheap and weird that when the animals talk, it’s sometimes just their lips moving over a still photograph. The dog doesn’t even dress up!

53. A Christmas Carol: The Musical (2004)

A woman in white shredded robes does a luring hand gesture in A Christmas Carol: The Musical (2004)

This is a tough watch for numerous reasons, especially if you’re not a fan of Broadway musicals. Kelsey Grammer plays Scrooge, and he’s confronted by a white-clad Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come played by Geraldine Chaplin (Charlie Chaplin’s daughter, most recently seen in Netflix’s The Crown ). The costuming is pretty dire — she looks like she’s covered in damp toilet paper.

52. Chasing Christmas (2005)

A dorky guy with wavy hair and a red ascot stands next to a lit christmas tree in Chasing Christmas (2005)

Tom Arnold has tremendous divorced energy as the Scrooge figure in this mediocre comedy, where the Ghost of Christmas Past goes AWOL and leads him and the Ghost of Christmas Present through a series of scenes. Scrooge and the second spirit eventually make out, and there are a lot of cartoon sound effects. Yet to Come only shows up at the movie’s climax, and is just a sleazy-looking Euro guy in an ascot.

51. Bah, Humduck! A Looney Tunes Christmas (2006)

Taz emerges from the Christmas Future robes to scare Daffy Duck while the two stand in the snowy forest in Bah, Humduck! A Looney Tunes Christmas (2006)

Here, the ghost is the Tasmanian Devil. He starts out the scene in the typical black shroud, but doffs it a minute or so later to engage in the usual Warner Bros. schtick.

50. Carry on Christmas (1969)

A stereotypical afro sunglasses hippie wears a necklace of flowers in a black void

The long-running British slapstick film series tackled Dickens for a Christmas special at the end of the swinging ’60s, but the Ghost of Christmas Future is just actor Bernard Bresslaw playing an incredibly broad hippie impersonation. Oh, and Frankenstein and Dracula are also in this, for unexplained reasons.

49. It’s Christmas, Carol! (2012)

Carrie Fisher in black holds a black umbrella to cover a brunette woman from the rain in  It’s Christmas, Carol! (2012)

Carrie Fisher plays all three ghosts (and the Marley role to boot) in this Hallmark Channel take on A Christmas Carol set in the modern age. Emmanuelle Vaugier is the Scrooge figure, transformed into a hard-charging CEO with no time for Christmas. Not scary.

48. A Christmas Carol (2015)

A woman in a black veil stands behind a tree in A Christmas Carol (2015)

This extremely cheap-looking Canadian musical production of the story was a labor of love (director Anthony D.P. Mann also plays Scrooge), for what that’s worth. The Spirit of Christmas Yet to Come talks and sings in this rendition. She’s just a lady with a white face in a big black hat. The whole thing has a community theater vibe.

47. Brer Rabbit’s Christmas Carol (1992)

A jack o lantern head hides under a white blanket in Brer Rabbit’s Christmas Carol (1992)

The early ’90s were such a dire time for animation. This made-for-TV special — not produced by Disney, and with no connection to Disney’s Song of the South — is an ordeal to watch, and all the ghosts are just Brer Rabbit messing with Brer Fox through the use of household props and woodland actors. So the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come here is just a sheet on a mop with a jack-o’-lantern on top.

46. An American Christmas Carol (1979)

Henry Winkler in old age makeup playing Scrooge next to Dorian Harewood as Christmas Future

Henry Winkler — the Fonz himself — dons old-age makeup to portray Benedict Slade in this adaptation moved to Depression-era New England. The spirit who shows him the misery that awaits him after death is played with soulfulness by Dorian Harewood — the fill-in voice of Shredder from the Ninja Turtles cartoons!

45. A Christmas Carol (1969)

A 2D animated Ghost of Christmas Future points his bony finger in a graveyard in A Christmas Carol (1969)

From a series of Australian animated adaptations called Famous Classic Tales , this is a pretty standard take on the story, complete with a third ghost that could pass for an unimaginative Scooby-Doo villain.

44. A Christmas Carol (2000)

A bald man guides a red headed kid through a cemetery in A Christmas Carol (2000)

This odd British TV adaptation moves the action to the present day, with Ross Kemp playing Scrooge as a council-estate loan shark despised by his clients and community. The third spirit that visits him on Christmas Eve is an eerily silent young boy who shows him the bad end that awaits, and in the film’s coda, we learn that the kid was his yet-to-be-born child. In theory this could be scary, but it’s executed so clumsily that it’s more laughable than chilling.

43. Skinflint: A Country Christmas Carol (1979)

A cloaked man wearing a skeleton mask meets scrooge in Skinflint: A Country Christmas Carol (1979)

David Bond plays the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come in this honky-tonk musical adaptation of the Dickens story, with Gremlins ’ Hoyt Axton in the Scrooge role. This was only aired once, during the late-’70s peak of Grand Ole Opry country music. Bond eschews the hood in favor of what looks like dollar-store Dracula makeup and some deeply weird hand gestures.

42. A Christmas Carol (1910)

A whispy ghost shows scrooge his gravestone

The oldest surviving film version of Dickens’ tale (except for the 1906 one, which didn’t have the three ghosts) is a 13-minute silent speedrun of the whole tale. The ghosts aren’t terribly scary, and as far as I can tell, the gimmick for the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come is “big lady.”

41. A Flintstones Christmas Carol (1994)

A hooded ghost shows Fred Flinstone Scrooge his deathbed

This 70-minute animated take, featuring the usual Flintstones characters, depicts the ghost as a pretty generic hooded featureless figure. The one notable thing about this movie is that it actually shows Fred Flintstone’s corpse — or at least his massive, pale-white big toe sticking out from under a sheet.

40. The Stingiest Man in Town (1978)

A dimly lit ghost

A low-effort Rankin-Bass animated musical version of the classic story, with a hooded figure pointing a bony white arm at Scrooge’s tombstone. Perfectly competent, but nothing to write home about.

39. A Carol Christmas (2003)

A prison guard stands behind Tori Spelling

This Hallmark movie had some serious stunt casting — Gary Coleman as the Ghost of Christmas Past! William Shatner as the Ghost of Christmas Present! Storied actor James Cromwell is the third and final ghost, and his expressive face does a lot to sell it, even though he’s just a mute limo driver. The bit where he closes Carol (Tori Spelling) into her coffin is a little freaky.

38. Old Scrooge (1913)

A transluscent ghost freaks out scrooge

Ghosts in these early silent adaptations were always very tall. In this silent version of the tale, our future ghost is just a lanky fellow wrapped in some bedsheets. Marley is actually significantly scarier.

37. A Christmas Carol (1982)

A creepy hooded guy in The Stingiest Man in Town (1978)

I think this animated Australian version of the story is the baseline “solid C” for scariness. It’s not imaginative at all — if you’ve read this far, you’ve probably guessed that the ghost here is a big figure in a black cloak — but the rendering is fine, and the music really sells the scene. Perfectly decent but nothing to renounce your miserly ways over.

36. Scrooge & Marley (2012)

the ghost of christmas past dog

Chicago drag legend Jojo Baby plays the third ghost in this campy gay take on the tale, with Scrooge recast as a penny-pinching club owner visited by his deceased partner. Mr. Baby does a fine job, wrapped up in a mummy-like sheath of black fabric that casts a very glam silhouette.

35. Ebbie (1995)

the ghost of christmas past dog

A Lifetime original movie starring Susan Lucci as the first female Scrooge? Look for scares somewhere else, pal. The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come is played by busy Bill Croft, most notable for playing prison guards or convicts in shows like Airwolf and Viper . He’s just a quiet but imposing guy in a hat and a black trenchcoat.

34. A Christmas Carol (1997)

the ghost of christmas past dog

DIC was the go-to studio for affordable animation through much of the ’80s and ’90s, and this holiday special was as average as possible. Tim Curry plays Scrooge, and the adaptation gives him a bulldog named Debit because all cartoons must have a cute animal character. The ghost here is a glowing cloaked specter, nothing fancy or special, but it’s well designed.

33. A Diva’s Christmas Carol (2000)

the ghost of christmas past dog

Vanessa Williams plays “Ebony Scrooge” in this perplexing made-for-VH1 holiday movie, which also stars Duran Duran’s John Taylor and Chilli from TLC. The stunt casting could have gone any number of ways for the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, but for some reason, it’s a haunted television set showing an episode of Behind the Music where everybody talks about how much they hate Scrooge now that she’s dead. Then it sucks her in, Poltergeist -style. Extremely weird.

32. A Christmas Carol (1994)

the ghost of christmas past dog

Cheaply made animated special with the artwork done in Japan in a vaguely anime style. Our final ghost is a hooded figure wearing a rope as a belt. The whole enterprise is pretty artless and uninspired.

31. 2nd Chance for Christmas (2019)

Vivica A Fox looks shocked at an offscreen blonde

Direct-to-DVD (and streaming) cornball starring Brittany Underwood as a spoiled pop star in the Scrooge role. Vivica A. Fox is mostly wasted as the third ghost, credited as “Death” — she enters the scene in cloak and bones, inspiring Underwood to ask whether she “died at Comic-Con.” But she plays through the flick just as her normal, fine self.

30. Mickey’s Christmas Carol (1983)

the ghost of christmas past dog

Disney animated projects are occasionally pretty scary — even the Mickey Mouse stories . But the Ghost here is just frequent Mickey nemesis Peg-Leg Pete, wearing a brown shroud and puffing a stogie. It’s a testament to how good the framing and animation is that he still feels threatening. The addition of a cigar does explain the billows of smoke around the spirit.

29. An All Dogs Christmas Carol (1998)

the ghost of christmas past dog

The last film in the All Dogs Go to Heaven series has a convoluted plot about evil bulldog Carface scheming to hypnotize pets to steal Christmas presents. The good dogs dress up as the three spirits to change his ways, and the Ghost of Christmas Future starts off as an imposing hooded figure before whipping his cloak off to do a bizarre riff on Jim Carrey in The Mask . He does take Carface to literal hell, which is a little intense.

28. A Christmas Carol (1977)

A shadowy figure meets Scrooge in a graveyard covered in fog

Yet another BBC adaptation of the tale, with a perfectly acceptable shroud-clad spirit. He loses a few points because he doesn’t really seem to know what to do with his hands, leaving them hanging awkwardly while Scrooge monologues. But the massive hanging hood and creepy silence are both on point.

27. Una Meravigliosa Notte (1953)

the ghost of christmas past dog

I don’t speak Italian, so it’s difficult to evaluate how well the ghost comes off in this adaptation, which stars Paolo Stoppa as greedy Antonio Trabbi, visited by a trio of spirits who show him the error of his ways. This is the second film on this list where the ghost has no physical form, instead manifesting as an echoing voice-over. The cinematography does a lot to sell it, as Stoppa seems genuinely deranged and unsettled by the all-knowing voice in his head.

26. Ms. Scrooge (1997)

the ghost of christmas past dog

Cicely Tyson plays the Scrooge role in this gender-swapped version of the tale, in which the Ghost of Christmas Future warns her that the IRS will take all her money after she dies. He’s played by actor Julian Richings, who has a memorable face, but spends his whole part of the movie standing around expressionless in a suit. It’s just weird enough to be truly creepy.

25. A Christmas Carol (1938)

Scrooge barely sees the ghost of christmas yet to come hiding in a bush

One of the more famous adaptations, this one is solid, but the ghost is just a guy in a black cloak. When he walks, he sometimes sticks both of his arms out in front of him like Frankenstein’s monster. Every once in a while, you can see his weird skinny hand.

24. John Grin’s Christmas (1986)

A bald Black man lifts up his robe to reveal himself to Scrooge

This all-Black TV adaptation of the story has Robert Guillaume as the Scrooge figure John Grin, and the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come is played by Trinidadian dancer/actor Geoffrey Holder, probably best known as Baron Samedi in Live and Let Die . The costuming isn’t anything to write home about, but Holder’s expressive face and wild mannerisms definitely deliver.

23. Tales From Dickens: A Christmas Carol (1959)

A robed ghost points offscreen in a cemetery to direct a scrooge with long white hair

Early television programming didn’t have much to offer in terms of special effects, so the Ghost in this Basil Rathbone-starring adaptation is a black cloak walking around in some studio fog. Some nice stiff-armed pointing and a commitment to stillness and silence makes it one of the better of its type.

22. Scrooge (1951)

A hand raises in front of Scrooge who kneels on the ground

Alastair Sim is one of cinema’s most famous Scrooges, and he puts his whole back into cowering in fear of the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come. It’s another shrouded figure, but its introduction is pretty good — a pale white hand held in the foreground of a shot for more than a minute as Scrooge freaks out. The best thing about this one is his implacability: None of Scrooge’s pleas move him in the slightest.

21. A Christmas Carol (1914)

A ghost appears next to a stone wall as Scrooge looks down at his feet

Another silent flim, this one running a little over 20 minutes. The ghost is a big guy in a black hood and cloak, played by the awesomely named and completely stone-faced H. Ashton Tonge. Charles Rock is an overacting machine as Scrooge, chewing scenery like it was a Christmas goose.

20. A Christmas Carol: Scrooge’s Ghostly Tale (2006)

A walrus ghost

This direct-to-video CGI animated film casts anthropomorphic animals in the lead roles. You will never in a million years guess what kind of animal the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come is, so I’ll just spoil it for you: It’s a walrus with one broken tusk, crackling with some sort of eldritch electricity. It’s so inexplicable that it wraps around to being scary.

19. Scrooge (1922)

A transparent ghosts freaks out Scrooge in the graveyard

This is, chronologically, the first film that depicts the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come with its face fully shrouded, and it’s effective, even though the ghost is barely on screen for a minute in this silent short.

18. Ebenezer (1998)

A cloaked figure with long white hair walks on an old timely western street

Jack Palance as Ebenezer Scrooge in a version of the tale set in the Old West? Incredible, and the legendary actor goes wild as a card-cheating swindler who hates Christmas. The ghost here is a shrouded figure with some wisps of gray hair coming out from the cloak, and at the end of his scene, he reveals his face as Scrooge’s dead partner, Jacob Marlowe.

17. Mister Magoo’s Christmas Carol (1962)

The Ghost of CHristmas Future leads mr magoo blindly into the graveyard

The hapless blind codger has been cast as Ebenezer Scrooge in a theatrical adaptation of the Dickens story, possibly for insurance-fraud reasons. The third spirit is the stereotypical silent hooded shadowy figure, but animated in the classic UPA style, so it looks pretty cool and imposing. The original songs written for the movie and sung by Magoo kind of undercut the drama, though.

16. Scrooge (1935)

a shadowy hand points at something

The first feature-length Christmas Carol film with sound takes a pretty interesting approach with our third ghost, portraying him as an amorphous shadow that sometimes enfolds Scrooge, and at other times appears as a pointing finger cast on the snowy ground. Not super scary, but cool.

15. A Christmas Carol (1923)

A ghost appears in a burst of little lights in front of Scrooge

Another shadowy cloaked figure in this silent adaptation, but Russell Thorndike’s Scrooge sells the hell out of it well enough to bump it up a few spots.

14. A Christmas Carol (2012)

A bald bearded scrooge meets the ghost

This relatively obscure adaptation directed by Jason Figgis does some odd things with the source material, deliberately removing some scenes to make the narrative bleaker. It’s pretty low-budget and obviously shot on video with the actors in different rooms, overlaid with cheap digital effects, but it manages to work OK. The ghost has a red cloak and some gross zombie makeup on his outstretched hand, earning points for being different.

13. A Christmas Carol (2018)

A younger Scrooge looks up in the darkness of night

The introduction of the final spirit in this Scotland-set version is straight out of a horror movie, all ominous whooshing noises and creaking violins. But in a departure from the norm, we never actually see it. Instead, it speaks in one-word pronouncements in a gravelly voice as Scrooge reacts to it. Points for originality and solid sound design, but the actor playing Scrooge doesn’t sell it as well as he could.

12. Spirited (2022)

A cloaked ghost points his skeleton hand in a moonlit graveyeard

Will Ferrell and Ryan Reynolds mug it up in this comedy holiday musical made for Apple TV. It’s got good production values, and the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, played by former Raptors power forward Loren Woods (but voiced by Tracy Morgan), makes the most of its few minutes on screen.

11. A Christmas Carol (1984)

A window illuminates the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come

George C. Scott stars as Scrooge in one of the all-time best versions of the story, and the ghost is really solid — tattered, shadowy, silent, and imposing. Nothing particularly innovative about this rendition, but expertly executed.

10. Christmas Carol: The Movie (2001)

A skeleton’s visage melts into the Crachit family before a fully illuminated Scrooge

In general, this animated version of the story is pretty low-quality, even though the celebrity voice cast includes Kate Winslet and Nicolas Cage. But the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come is handled pretty marvelously. Its depiction eschews realism: It’s drawn with sloppy brushstrokes outlining a cadaverous figure. It’s one of the few animated versions that really takes advantage of the medium, even if it’s just for a short time.

9. The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)

A cloaked figure holds his hands at the graveyard gates as Scrooge approaches in The Muppet Christmas Carol

Michael Caine in a world full of Muppets is disconcerting enough, but this one takes a turn for the eerie when Scrooge runs into the third spirit — a huge figure clad in black robes, with an infinite, featureless void where its face should be. Not a lot of time on screen, but a really strong design.

8. Scrooge (1970)

A full-on skeleton Yet to Come ghost pokes Scrooge

For the first part of the ghost’s appearance in this musical (with Albert Finney as Scrooge), he’s the usual black-cloaked figure. But when Scrooge realizes he’s looking at his own grave, the Ghost reveals a skeletal face and hands that are simultaneously corny and disconcerting.

7. A Christmas Carol (2019)

Jason Flemyng playing a ghost of christmas yet to come with his mouth sewen shut and a top hat

Guy Pearce starred as Scrooge in this series, one of the darkest adaptations of Dickens ever. There’s even a sexual-abuse subplot to Scrooge’s childhood, along with several other adult themes. The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come is well played by British actor Jason Flemyng, who appears as a pallid man in a black suit and top hat with his mouth crudely sewn shut.

6. A Christmas Carol (2020)

A shadow monster grabs Scrooge

This ambitious dance film features celebrity voices and professional dancers. It’s one of the more visually compelling takes on the story, with some dynamic sets and beautiful motion. Both Bob Cratchit and the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come are played by dancer Brekke Fagerlund Karl, who is magnificently threatening with his spare movements.

5. A Christmas Carol (1971)

graves pop up all around scrooge

Legendary animator Richard Williams won an Oscar for this brilliant adaptation, which is just tremendous from start to finish. The ghost is a hooded figure, as per normal, but the incredible fluidity of the drawings here gives it an uncanny hyperrealism. Coupled with some unsettling camera movement, the design gives us a very high placer.

4. A Christmas Carol (1999)

A ghost of christmas yet to come with a brown robe and jawa eyes

The Patrick Stewart-led Christmas Carol was the first Scrooge story to use digital special effects. Our Ghost here is played by British actor Tim Potter, but we don’t really see him. Instead, it’s a baleful black shroud with two unsettling amber eyes buried within. Sometimes the primitive VFX of this period could be really effective, and this is a great example.

3. A Christmas Carol (2009)

a growing dark shadow ghost

I’m not the biggest fan of Robert Zemeckis’ motion-capture animated films, as they always veer a little too far into the uncanny valley for comfort. But you can’t deny that the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come in his holiday effort is effective. CGI lets the spirit be a creature of pure shadow, changing size at will for some truly impressive effects.

2. Scrooged (1988)

a bunch of dead melty face spirits trapped in the skeletal chest of the ghost in Scrooged

Bill Murray meeting the hulking Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come in the elevator is one of many great scenes in this classic ’80s dram-com. Then the ghost opens the front of his cloak to reveal tormented souls trapped in his ribcage, and forces Bill Murray to experience his own cremation. A great fusion of the traditional and the contemporary, and it’s definitely scary!

1. A Carol for Another Christmas (1964)

Robert Shaw in a cloak in A Carol for Another Christmas

Leave it to Twilight Zone creator Rod Serling to max out the scare factor. This adaptation stars Sterling Hayden as industrialist Daniel Grudge, who is visited by three ghosts attempting to argue him out of his isolationist policies. The third ghost is played by Robert Shaw, who isn’t that scary on his own — until you realize that the “future” he’s showing Grudge is a world ravaged by nuclear armageddon and senseless, murderous violence. Shadowy figures and impending death are typically scary enough to turn a Scrooge around, but the threat of global thermonuclear war? That’s enough to save a whole lifetime of Christmases.

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The Ghost of Christmas Past

  • View history
  • 1.1 Physical appearance
  • 1.2 Personality
  • 2 Role in the film
  • 3.1 The Muppet Christmas Carol
  • 3.2 DuckTales (2017)
  • 4 Disney characters portraying Christmas Past
  • 6 External links

Background [ ]

Physical appearance [ ].

In the original Charles Dickens novel, the Ghost of Christmas Past is described as thus:

Most versions retain the appearance of a being with light and candle motif, but is usually the only ghost to have the most radically diverse depictions. The 2009 version has been the most direct about their appearance. They appear as a literal floating candle person with the bottom half disappearing into nothingness and their head essentially floating above their body as a lit flame. Their candle wax body produces two arms that resemble long sleeved robes and, just like the original novel, carries an extinguisher that is only slightly as big as them.

The Muppet Christmas Carol version switches the candle motif for a more ethereal ghost-like appearance. They resemble a small child with white wispy robes and a hood and appear to lack any feet whatsoever. Their face is that of an androgynous pale-faced child with long wavy red hair and large blue eyes.

The DuckTales version draws inspiration from Jiminy Cricket 's appearance in Mickey's Christmas Carol and is a small green cricket with a blue waistcoat, white undershirt and red tie. He also carries an umbrella that imbues him with the power to time travel.

Personality [ ]

In most adaptations, the Ghost of Christmas Past is depicted as being very soft-spoken and honest. While not as boastful or frightening as their two ghostly compatriots, the Ghost is not afraid to hit Scrooge with the harsh truth about his past and make him realize his fall from grace. The Ghost appears to have a subdued playful side, most likely representing one's youth, but is full of aged wisdom, representing those in their autumn years. Overall, the Ghost is trying to be helpful, even if it means being severe with the truth.

The DuckTales version additionally is depicted as being self-conscious and clingy to those around him. Feeling left out, he was willing to keep Scrooge McDuck to himself. It was only through the passage of time, that he sees the error of his ways and assumes his role as the Ghost of Christmas Past again.

Role in the film [ ]

The Ghost of Christmas Past appears modeled like a candle to symbolize the light that people shine on their past, in order to know themselves better. In this version, the ghost has a light Irish accent. He takes Scrooge on a journey throughout his past in order to show Scrooge how he became the miserly moneylender he is. During this journey, Scrooge discovered the following things:

  • His father neglected him and his sister as a child.
  • His kind sister Fan brought him back home from boarding school one Christmas when he was a child and their father was in a good mood.
  • Fan died giving birth to Fred.
  • Fezziwig was a kind Christmas loving boss to him.
  • Scrooge started a successful business in money-lending and finances.
  • He first met Belle during Fezziwig's Christmas party.
  • He then broke up with Belle by the time Scrooge started his obsession with finances.

After which, Scrooge wants to leave but the ghost uses then his face to show all the people the old man knew in his kindness. Scared, Scrooge quickly extinguishes the ghost with his own extinguisher. However, Scrooge is then shot up into the sky, toward the moon, and falls about 50,000 feet toward the ground back to his house.

Appearances in Disney media [ ]

The muppet christmas carol [ ].

In the Muppet adaptation, the ghost is a female voiced by Jessica Fox and puppeteered by Karen Prell . The Ghost shows Scrooge his lonely childhood at school, a happy Christmas party at Fozziwig's, and his breakup with his fiancée, Belle .

DuckTales (2017) [ ]

A version of the Ghost of Christmas Past appears in the 2017 reboot of DuckTales in the episode " Last Christmas! ". This version is depicted as a cricket (in a nod to Jiminy Cricket portraying him) and carries an umbrella that appears to be the source of his time traveling powers.

He, along with the Ghosts of Christmas Present and Future visit Scrooge McDuck every year just to hang out after accidentally visiting him instead of Ebenezer Scrooge. The group take Scrooge to his first Christmas party held at McDuck Manor , but when he gets irritated with the events unfolding, Past takes him further back to before McDuck Manor was even built, revealing that he wants to keep Scrooge to himself due to constantly being left behind and forgotten by every person he has to help every Christmas. Scrooge manages to trick Past into giving him his umbrella to return to his time, leaving him in the cold barren land.

Due to longing to be reunited with Scrooge, Past transforms into a Wendigo and begins stalking the surrounding area until he encounters a young Donald , Della Duck , and a time-traveling Dewey Duck . The trio captures him before Scrooge arrives to bring Dewey back to his time period. Seeing the two happily reunite moves Past and he transforms back to normal with Scrooge giving him his umbrella back. Past is seen with the other Ghosts attending Scrooge's Christmas party with his friends and family.

Disney characters portraying Christmas Past [ ]

  • Jiminy Cricket - Portrayed the role in Mickey's Christmas Carol .
  • Merlin - Portrayed the role in An Adaptation of Dickens' Christmas Carol, Performed by The Walt Disney Players
  • Cadpig - Portrayed the role in the 101 Dalmatians: The Series episode, " A Christmas Cruella "
  • Tigger - Portrayed the role in Winnie the Pooh: Springtime with Roo .

Gallery [ ]

Ghost of Christmas Past

External links [ ]


  • 2 Once Upon a Studio

Characters - AQA The Ghost of Christmas Past in A Christmas Carol

Three ghosts take Scrooge through Christmases past, present and future. Characters Bob Cratchit, his son Tiny Tim, and Scrooge’s nephew Fred, all influence Scrooge in his journey of transformation.

The Ghost of Christmas Past in A Christmas Carol

  • Young and old
  • Streaming with light

The Ghost of Christmas Past

The Ghost of Christmas Past is the first spirit to visit Scrooge after the ghost of Marley. It arrives as the clock chimes one. It is an ephemeral close ephemeral Lasting for a short period, not consistent or solid. spirit that appears to be both old and young at the same time with light streaming from the top of its head.

It takes Scrooge to scenes from his own past, showing him visions of his own childhood, of his young adulthood and of happier times. The final scene he presents is one that Scrooge cannot bear to witness: his lost love, Belle, with her family.

Scrooge turns on the ghost and demands to be shown no more. He attempts to extinguish the ghost's light with its own cap, wrestling it to the ground. However, the light that shines from the ghost cannot be put out.

Learn more about the three ghosts in this podcast

Listen to the full series on BBC Sounds.

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Film / Scrooged

Edit locked.

Frank Cross : I get it. You're here to show me my past, and I'm supposed to get all dully-eyed and mushy. Well, forget it, pal. You got the wrong guy! Ghost of Christmas Past : That's exactly what Attila the Hun said. But when he saw his mother... Niagara Falls.

A 1988 comedy film directed by Richard Donner and starring Bill Murray , Scrooged is a moderately loose modern-day retelling of A Christmas Carol , with the twist of taking place In a World… where everyone is already familiar with Dickens's tale .

Murray plays Frank Cross, a cynical, selfish network executive who's putting together a live TV adaptation of A Christmas Carol for a holiday special. Frank's own childhood memories of Christmas are less than fond, leaving him initially unable to appreciate the spirit of the season. However, things start to change after Frank's deceased former boss and mentor smashes his way into his office to inform him that he is doomed unless he changes his ways. True to the source material, Frank is subsequently visited by the three very strange Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future.

Intended to capitalize on Murray's success in Ghostbusters (1984) , Scrooged contains a number of references to the earlier (if largely unrelated) film; one of the taglines was, "Bill Murray is back amongst the ghosts, only this time it's three on one." The supporting cast includes Karen Allen , John Forsythe , Bobcat Goldthwait , Carol Kane , Robert Mitchum , Michael J. Pollard , Alfre Woodard , John Glover , and David Johansen .

This movie contains examples of:

  • Abusive Advertising : Frank's ad for Scrooge is a barrage of modern-day horrors leading to "watch the special - your life may depend on it!", or as Loudermilk calls it "The Manson Family Christmas Special!". It’s mentioned later in the film that it actually scared an old lady so bad she died of a heart attack and the network is getting sued.
  • Abusive Parent : Frank's heartless old man, whose Establishing Character Moment was giving Frank five pounds of veal instead of a toy train for Christmas, telling the kid to find work if he really wanted it, despite the boy being a 4-year-old, then proceeded to mock his young age, likening it to other "excuses" people make when they cannot go to work (like a bad back and hurting leg). Even the Ghost looks disgusted with him.
  • When the homeless shelter inmates mistake Frank for Richard Burton , it's an allusion to Bill Murray 's skit in Saturday Night Live , where he imitated that actor's most famous dramatic scenes.
  • Murray also has a golf ball in his mouth .
  • Right near the end, he says " Feed me, Seymour ".
  • Actually Pretty Funny : Despite telling her other children to stop dressing up Calvin like a Christmas tree, Grace is having a hard time stopping smiling at the scene.
  • This is actually averted by the Ghost of Christmas yet to come, whose personality of being Good Is Not Nice is the same as his literary counterpart.
  • Adaptational Villainy : Scrooge was a bastard, but he never took things nearly as far as Frank does, as the latter screams at those who disagree with him, fires a man for a single conversation requesting Frank does the decent thing, and being happy when he learns that his commercial got an old woman killed. Much like Ebenezer, these villainous traits fade away by the end though.
  • Affably Evil : Lew Hayward, back when he was alive. He's very genial to his employees and takes Frank under his wing, even urging him to take a night off to enjoy the office Christmas party. He's also a serial adulterer, and the one who taught Frank to be a corporate shark and helped ruin his relationship with Claire, faults that he admits to when he meets Frank as a ghost.
  • Alien Geometries : The first hallway the Ghost of Christmas Future sends Frank down. Also the room Calvin is kept in.
  • All Is Well That Ends Well : Eliot Loudermilk has the control room held hostage with a shotgun. This is a terrible thing, but it's the end of a comedy movie.
  • Aloof Big Brother : Frank zigzags between being dismissive and uninterested in associating with his younger brother. He regularly shrugged off his brother’s invitations to spend Christmas with him. However, he does care about James and was concerned when he thought James was the one in the coffin in the future segment.
  • An Ass-Kicking Christmas / Badass Santa : Featured in The Night The Reindeer Died , one of the Films Within A Film during the movie. Apparently, Santa is a very Jolly Burt Gummer .
  • Art Shift : The Christmas Future visions .
  • As Himself : Lee Majors, playing Lee Majors in Scrooged , who is playing Lee Majors in the Film Within A Film The Night The Reindeer Died .
  • Bad Future : What the Ghost of Christmas Future shows Frank.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing : Bryce Cummings (played by John Glover ) seems really nice but is really gunning for Frank's job. Frank realized this almost immediately though.
  • Black Comedy Animal Cruelty : Frank suggests stapling the antlers to the mouse's head. Claire is understandably horrified and threatens to call the humane society.
  • Also note that, somehow, IBC is putting on a performance of Scrooge , as opposed to A Christmas Carol .
  • Blatant Lies : A humorously direct and succinct example appears in this exchange: Grace: But, Mr. Cross, I booked that appointment two months ago! Frank: I CARE!!
  • Bottomless Magazines : Eliot is shown getting more ammo out of his pocket to use in his double-barreled shotgun. However, the number of shots he ends up firing would have well filled his pockets to the point of bulging. He also fires three shots before reloading for the first time.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall : Frank at the end of the movie. On the one hand, he is in a TV studio, he is speaking into an In-Universe camera, and the closest thing to a physical fourth wall is far behind said camera, but on the other hand, he's talking to the Real Life movie audience as opposed to the In-Universe TV audience.

the ghost of christmas past dog

  • The Standards and Practices lady gets hit by a lamppost, run over by a barrel and crushed by a set.
  • Frank, when dealing with the Ghost of Christmas Present. Oh, the amount of abuse he takes.
  • Cheek Copy : The modern update of Fezziwig's Christmas celebration is a wild office party, which includes a woman photocopying her butt and handing out copies to her coworkers.
  • There aren't many movies in which John Glover isn't the one giving the hammiest performance, but Scrooged is one of them.
  • Closing Credits Cast Party
  • Cloudcuckoolander : Whenever Frank's brother, James, is on-screen, he seems a little flighty, not picking up on some social cues and seeming to need certain things spelled out for him. This is explained when their mom is shown smoking a cigarette while heavily pregnant with James during Frank's time with the Ghost of Christmas Past.
  • Composite Character : Lew Hayward is a combination of Mr. Fezziwig (Scrooge's old mentor and host of the Christmas party) and Jacob Marley (Scrooge's dead partner and the first ghost to visit him).
  • Convenience Store Gift Shopping : It runs in the Cross family. Frank's father drops five pounds of veal at his feet when he's a child, and he proceeds to mock his whining when Frank says he asked Santa for a toy train. When Frank grows up, he buys bath towels for his employees and his brother James (or rather, he dictates his secretary to buy them, including her own bath towel gift), while reserving expensive items like VCRs for people he's trying to impress.
  • Creepy Children Singing : Danny Elfman's score features a children's choir; YMMV on whether or not it's "creepy," but it certainly isn't a nice, cheery, uplifting score.
  • Cute Bruiser : The second ghost. Ghost of Christmas Present: Oh! What's's a TOASTER! *SMACK*
  • Cute Mute : Calvin (see Dumb Struck , below), who finds his voice near the end to remind the reformed Cross to say, "God bless us, every one."
  • The film itself plays up the Black Comedy possibilities of the story compared to most adaptations. In this version, "Marley" drops Frank off a building, a homeless guy freezes to death, the Ghost of Christmas Future has shrieking demons inside his ribcage, Frank witnesses his love interest become as cynical and miserable as he did, experiences his own cremation instead of merely seeing his grave, and the story caps off with an employee chasing Frank with a shotgun only to be recruited into taking hostages so Frank can deliver a message of holiday cheer. A Charlie Brown Christmas this ain't.
  • Defrosting Ice King : Frank, of course.
  • The Defroster : Downplayed, as Frank defrosts because of his experiences with the Ghosts, but his brother James is notably the only one Frank doesn't treat like complete garbage, and he even openly admits he likes spending time with him. Seeing that James made him a Christmas present and will even defend his brother when he's not present helps Frank regain some of his humanity.
  • Deadpan Snarker : The Ghost of Christmas Past, oh so much. Let's face it, Frank. Garden slugs got more out of life than you.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance : Frank's mother is seen smoking while pregnant with James, something common in the 1950s. Even by 1988, this was seen as a tremendous health hazard for mother and baby.
  • Department of Redundancy Department : When Frank tells Grace, "If you can't work late, I can't work late! If I can't work late, I CAN'T WORK LATE!"
  • Deranged Taxi Driver : The Ghost of Christmas Past takes the form of a sinister, cackling cabbie who drives like he's in a demolition derby.
  • Did You Just Flip Off Cthulhu? : Upon meeting what he thinks is the real Ghost of Christmas Future in the elevator, Frank Cross goads him into doing his worst by calling him a "pussy", only to realize that it was just the actor in the televised production dressed up as the Ghost of Christmas Future.
  • She actually likes it when Frank threatens her with violence if she touches him again.
  • Double Standard Rape: Female on Male : Played for laughs near the end, when the Standards and Practices woman pounces on a tied-up Bryce Cummings and kisses him. It's not rape , but it's definitely assault.
  • The Driver / Drives Like Crazy : The first Ghost. Claire Phillips: Taxi! Can you get me to the IBC building in three minutes? Ghost of Christmas Past: Which floor?
  • Drowning My Sorrows : Elliot tries to do this after losing his job, but a Roadside Wave wets the paper bag holding his booze and causes it to fall out. He tries again later, only for the Ghost of Christmas Past to drive by and steal his booze.
  • Drunk Rolling : Subverted with Eliott Laudermilk. After getting fired by Frank Cross, Elliott spends the night and most of the next day boozing; however, he doesn't get rolled until he passes out from donating blood for money; a homeless guy helps himself to Eliott's cash (and also his coat).
  • Drugs Are Bad : In one of the flashbacks, Claire is clearly smoking a joint.
  • Dumb Struck : Calvin hasn't spoken a word since witnessing his father's murder five years earlier.
  • Dying Smirk : Frank finds Herman's corpse, apparently having frozen to death, still with the same content friendly grin on his face.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending : The movie definitely makes the audience work for their holiday schmaltz, but after all the fear, regret, and angst Frank went through in the movie, he gets back together with Claire, Calvin speaks again, Loudermilk gets a better job, everyone seems happier, and even Herman is now a happy ghost.
  • Establishing Character Moment : When we’re introduced to Frank Cross, he’s seen pulling open a drawer containing only a small mirror which he grins into. This establishes him as a narcissistic Jerkass .
  • Everyone Has Standards : The Ghost of Christmas Past clearly looks disgusted by how Frank's father mistreated him as a child on Christmas Eve.
  • Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas : Cross is driven to tears when he sees his mother in a vision of one of his first Christmases. The Ghost of Christmas Past had earlier mentioned even "Attila the Hun cried" when he saw his own mother. Ghost of Christmas Past : Niagara Falls, "Frankie Angel."
  • You can also see Frank's face literally light up when he sees Claire in person for the first time in years.
  • When he sees a future version of Claire, where she's colder and more heartless than Frank ever was, he realizes it's his fault and immediately apologizes following the revelation that it's his advice that did this.
  • The line spoken by Frank immediately after this scene to the Ghost of Christmas Future shows just how badly the vision rattled him.
  • Played for Laughs in one scene where Frank finds himself in a cold, dank storm sewer-like environment and compares it to a certain eponymous building owned by a certain real estate mogul. It seems that even a ruthless businessman like Frank has a low opinion of Donald Trump.
  • Evil-Detecting Dog : Not so much detecting evil; when Frank and The Ghost of Christmas Present appear in James' building, the only thing that can see them is a neighbor's dog which barks at them until it's owner orders it inside.
  • Executive Meddling : In-Universe . Frank's boss bumps into him in the hallway and orders him to put mice and/or squirrels in his production of A Christmas Carol to appeal to cats, thinking that pet-oriented shows will be the Next Big Thing.
  • Ebenezer Scrooge - Frank Cross
  • Tiny Tim - Calvin Cooley
  • Bob Cratchit - Grace Cooley , being that she's Calvin's mother and Frank's personal assistant.
  • Fred (Scrooge's only nephew) - James (Frank's only brother)
  • Fred's wife - Wendie (James's skeptical wife)
  • Lew also does double duty as Fezziwig: he may have been a workaholic, but he threw bitchin' Christmas parties.
  • Belle (Scrooge's former fiancée) - Claire
  • Extremely Short Timespan : In the tradition of "A Christmas Carol". The film takes place over only two days, though it's December 23rd and 24th, instead of the 24th and 25th.
  • Family-Unfriendly Death : A lot , though the crowning example has to be Frank's vision of his own funeral by cremation - from inside the coffin .
  • Fake Shemp : Ron Smith's Celebrity-Lookalikes is credited for providing, of course, celebrity look-alikes - stand-ins for the big-name cameos in shots where they were not the focus and would have been serving as extras at A-list rates.
  • Fanservice Extra : The Solid Gold Dancers in their very skimpy outfits. Though the crew member is right: you can hardly see them nipples.
  • Flipping the Bird : Frank does this to the old woman after stealing a ride from her.
  • Foreshadowing : Elliot tries to warn Frank that viewers would be too frightened of the new, gritty promo he wants to be played for the live broadcast of Scrooge . He later turns out to have been correct when it's revealed that the promo scared one old woman so badly it caused her to have a heart attack.
  • Gatling Good : Lee Majors wields a minigun in The Night the Reindeer Died .
  • Genre Savvy : Played with. In producing a version of A Christmas Carol , Frank is familiar with some beats of the story - looking somewhat glib when Lew's ghost tells him he's going to be visited by three ghosts ; he calls out the Ghost of Christmas Past, advising he knows the deal, and also recognises the Ghost of Christmas Future immediately (even if it's not the real deal). By the point he actively meets the Ghost of Christmas Future, however, Frank is so rattled by what's going on that any familiarity with the story would be meaningless, particularly when the powers that be actively go one step further than showing him his own grave. In short, he has a pretty solid idea of how it's going to play out, but the knowledge can't help him to circumvent any of it or prepare him for the emotional impact when it happens.
  • Ghost Reunion Ending : At the end, the ghost of the dead homeless guy appears on screen with the other Christmas ghosts.
  • Going Postal : Played for Laughs with Elliot, who loses his job, gets divorced from his wife, and then tries to kill Frank with a shotgun.
  • Good Is Not Nice : The ghosts' only goal is to aid Frank's Character Development , help him see the true meaning of Christmas, and help him become a better person... and if they can't traumatize him into it, they'll settle for gleefully beating the hell out of him.
  • The Grinch : Frank.
  • Groin Attack : "The Ballbreaker Suite", indeed.
  • Heel–Face Turn : Frank, of course.
  • Heel Realization : Frank after the Ghost of Christmas Future shows him that Claire could become even worse than he ever was, quoting him in the process. Frank: That was a lousy thing to do.
  • Hellevator : Frank meets the Ghost of Christmas Future here. At the bottom is the funeral noted up in Family-Unfriendly Death .
  • Hilariously Abusive Childhood : We see a typical Christmas present Frank got as a child from his father: A five-pound lump of meat. And when Frank says he wanted a train, his father yells at him to get a job. Frank was four.
  • Honest Advisor : Frank fires and humiliates Elliot for attempting to be this, giving honest and concerned negative feedback to his ridiculous ad campaign among Frank's other sniveling yes men. Heartwarmingly, at the end of the movie when he offers to give Elliot his office, Elliot replies that he doesn't like his office, yet now Frank loves the fact that Elliot disagrees with him.
  • How Dare You Die on Me! : When Frank finds Herman, the homeless man who thought he (Frank) was Richard Burton, frozen to death in a sewer, he berates him for not staying at Claire's shelter. Frank: You moron! You jerk! Why didn't you stay at Claire's?! Why didn't you stay with Claire?! She would have taken care of you, you would have eaten, you would have been warm! You might be alive! You'd be a prettier color, I'll tell ya that!
  • Humanoid Abomination : The Ghost of Christmas Future gives off this vibe. For one, it has a TV for a head that is constantly flickering. And inside its robes is what seems to be Hell itself.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink : After being visited by the Ghosts of Christmas Past and Present, Frank makes what is technically a vodka and Tab (about 99% vodka) for himself.
  • Improv : Half of Frank's lines; the entire closing sequence. A common one for Bill Murray as he's known to ad-lib and improvise a great deal in most of his movies.
  • Irony : Frank sees an old woman hail a cab and distracts her long enough to jump in and steal it from her, just so he can make his way to a ceremony where he wins the "Humanitarian of the Year" award.
  • Invisible Holes : Frank's old boss, Lew Hayward, caused by Frank repeatedly shooting his reanimated (and decayed) corpse. Lew didn't mind though, at least not until Frank shot the drink Lew was pouring himself. Lew Hayward: I don't mind you shooting at me, Frank, but take it easy on the Bacardi!
  • Jerkass : No kidding. One notable instance of this follows the above-mentioned cab scene ; Frank takes the cab to the Humanitarian Of the Year Awards, and after accepting said award ("I'm always going to cherish this....and all of you") , very pointedly leaves it in the cab afterward. This is because he'd already tested the statuette with his thumbnail and determined it was worthless.
  • When Frank hijacks the live show to spread a Christmas message, he admonishes the viewer, asking them what they're doing spending Christmas Eve watching a live show. An irate Rhinelander, watching said hijacking while phoning the studio, remarks that they're paying his salary.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold : Frank becomes this once his background becomes clear; he causes a lot of his own problems, but his self-centered nature makes a heck of a lot of sense.
  • Pretty much the entire beginning of the movie as we follow Frank Cross through a typical day of wanton cruelty. Plus Christmas promo spots featuring atomic bombs.
  • Played literally with a cat; after being falsely informed by Elliot that Brice Cummings called him a "flatulating butthead" and has homosexual feelings for him, Rhinelander kicks one of his cats in a fit of rage.
  • Laser-Guided Karma : Frank suspects Brice is gunning for his job, but it isn't confirmed until Frank interrupts the Scrooge broadcast and Brice smirks, "He's finished." Unfortunately, his reveal as a Bitch in Sheep's Clothing is timed with Frank's Heel–Face Turn , and Brice is immediately knocked out by Elliot Loudermilk as he storms the broadcast booth.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall : What with Scrooged being based on A Christmas Carol , IBC's live presentation of Scrooge runs roughly parallel to Frank's journey.
  • Literal Genie : The Ghost of Christmas Past acts like this sometimes. Frank asks him to take him home, the Ghost arrives at his childhood home. Frank asks to be taken back to his office, and the Ghost takes him to the office as it was in 1968.
  • Makeup Is Evil : One of the first signs that Claire in the Bad Future is a far cry from the sweet, wonderful woman he knows is her excessive makeup which makes her look the part of a cold, heartless Rich Bitch .
  • Man on Fire : Frank hallucinates a waiter catching himself on fire when serving flambé.
  • Meaningful Echo : "Scrape 'em off, Claire. If you want to save somebody, save yourself."
  • Meaningful Name : Lampshaded. Poster in Frank's Office: "Cross: (n) a thing they nail people to."
  • Also an unusual case where one of the parties involved gets to watch themselves meet.
  • Mentally Unwell, Special Senses : Calvin became a mute after witnessing the death of his father five years ago. In the future yet to come, he is institutionalized. When Frank is about to leave, Calvin moves his eye in his direction, implying he can see him despite being invisible.
  • Mistaken For Destitute : Bill Murray's character goes to visit his ex-girlfriend at the homeless shelter where she works, but he starts ranting and raving about the Christmas ghosts tormenting him, which causes the other volunteers to treat him like another crazy homeless guy.
  • Mistaken for Insane : Frank walks into the homeless shelter while ranting and raving about being lonely and getting himself a wife, all to himself. He is immediately wrapped in a blanket by a volunteer who thinks he is a mentally ill hobo.
  • A very subtle one when Frank sees himself and Claire in 1969, seeing them as a happy couple, Frank is smiling warmly at the memory, then the smile slowly turns into a wistful frown....knowing those good times didn't last.
  • A gag with Christmas Present whacking Frank right in the face with toaster immediately transitions into Frank falling beneath a sewer and somberly discovering that Herman has frozen to death.
  • Then we get an example in reverse gear when the simultaneously heartbreaking and terrifying scene of Frank being cremated alive in his casket and desperately pleading "I WANT TO LIVE!" suddenly ends and returns him to reality, where he joyously shouts "I'M ALIVE!!" to the chorus of Handel's The Messiah .
  • Moral Guardians : The Standards and Practices lady. She gets into ahem the spirit a little too much upon seeing Bryce Cummings tied up with garland.
  • Mouthscreen : We get a closeup of Brice's mouth.
  • My God, What Have I Done? : Frank regrets telling Claire that she needs to think of herself instead of others when he sees her future self shrug off needy children.
  • As in the original scene, Frank reminds Lew that he was a great businessman in life, only for Lew to say that mankind should have been his "business". Frank also thinks that he's an alcohol-induced hallucination at first, like how Scrooge thought Marley was an Acid Reflux Nightmare .
  • The Ghost of Christmas Past is a heavy smoker, and at one point blows smoke out of his ears. The original spirit is typically characterized as having a flame or light emitting from their head.
  • At the end, Frank dons a top hat just like Scrooge.
  • Neck Lift : Frank Cross's ghostly previous boss Lew Hayward does this to him before pushing him through a building window and letting him fall.
  • Never Had Toys : When Frank was four years old, his father gave him five pounds of veal for Christmas instead of the toy train the kid asked for and told him to get a job if he really wanted it.
  • Nipple and Dimed : Played With , near the beginning of the movie, the censor gets angry at the costumes of the Show Within a Show dancers, saying that "you can see her nipples." The viewer actually gets a free look at the costume in question, and although the nipples themselves aren't visible, part of the areolas are.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed : Frank is, at least allegedly, partially based on Citytv / MuchMusic creator Moses Znaimer.
  • No Social Skills : Watching Frank, it becomes apparent that he's not just anti-social, he's almost incapable of normal interactions with other human beings. On the job, he coasts by on acting (such as making a generic schmaltzy award acceptance speech) and executive arrogance, but he's got no idea how to interact with real people. Part of his abrasiveness seems to come from a genuine ignorance of other people's emotions, such as his failure to realize Grace's husband was dead despite the fact she spent a year wearing black in mourning, or casually insulting Claire's coworkers and then being baffled and hurt when she's upset. Spending fifteen years with only television for a touchstone with humanity didn't do his social skills any favors.
  • Not My Driver : The Ghost of Christmas Past is a borderline psychotic taxi driver.
  • Offscreen Teleportation : a fully justified example. Claire manages to get from her shelter to the IBC studio in just a couple of minutes, which seems impossible... except she catches a ride with the Ghost of Christmas Past (who even asks her which floor she wants).
  • Oh, Crap! : The censorship lady, who both times when she is about to be crushed by something (the set and a random barrel) lets out "Oh shit!" just before it happens.
  • Oh, No... Not Again! : Grace's reaction when she realizes her elder children have put all the Christmas lights and tinsel as Calvin, using the poor kid as a makeshift tree. Apparently, this happens every year.
  • Our Ghosts Are Different : They could be a zombie version of the deceased, a cabbie with Reality Warper powers, a violent fairy, or The Grim Reaper with a TV for a face.
  • Pet the Dog : Lew, by his own admission, was a terrible person when he was alive. But he threw a fantastic Christmas party for his staff every year, and in the past told Frank, a workaholic even then, to chill out and enjoy the festivities with everyone else. He also seems to be genuinely fond of Frank , and his terrorizing him as a ghost is ultimately done for the sake of saving him from sharing his miserable fate in the afterlife .
  • Pointy-Haired Boss : Frank's boss Preston Rhinelander is apparently this. Trapping Frank into an inane conversation about why there should be more animals on TV to attract household pets as viewers. Frank: (weary) If only I had the power to fire that poor son of a bitch.
  • Questionable Casting : In-universe, Frank's production of Dickens's classic features Buddy Hackett as Ebenezer Scrooge and Olympic gymnast Mary Lou Retton as Tiny Tim. The latter is justified as Tiny Tim would cast off his crutches and perform a whole routine at the end of the story.
  • Rejecting the Consolation Prize : Played with: Frank receives a Humanitarian of the Year award at a banquet, which technically means that he won first place. However, based on his own dismissive attitude of the ceremony itself and flicking the award to test its density (i.e., it's not solid gold), he leaves it behind in the taxi he takes back to work.
  • Related Differently in the Adaptation : In IBC's Scrooge , Fred is married to Scrooge's niece instead of being, himself, Scrooge's nephew.
  • Roadside Wave : Elliot Loudermilk gets an impromptu bath, which simultaneously ruins the liquor he was hoping to drown his sorrows in when the bottle falls through the soaked paper bag and smashes on the sidewalk.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge : Elliot Loudermilk's M.O. on Frank just before the visit with the Ghost of Christmas Future. One epiphany later, Frank joins him in derailing the live show going on downstairs.
  • Running Gag : The lady from the FCC accumulates several Amusing Injuries , each time screaming " OH SHIT! " before it hits her.
  • Setting Update : The movie moves the story from Victorian London to 1988 New York City .
  • Shameless Fanservice Girl : Tina, the flirty secretary at the office Christmas party. She photocopies her own butt and passes them out as Christmas cards, which everyone is happy to get.
  • The Ghost Of Christmas Present describes Grace's son's inability to speak as a result of seeing his father killed, and that he "Drifted away, like Sleeping Beauty ." Carol Kane played one of the good fairies in the Faerie Tale Theatre rendition of Sleeping Beauty , so this is also an Actor Allusion .
  • Kama Sutra is invoked with Claire's 1969 Christmas present to Frank, who promptly leafs through the pages and declares they've done each position he observes.
  • When Elliot first barges into Frank's office with a shotgun, he briefly does an Elmer Fudd impersonation.
  • When Frank dumps water on the waiter, he tries to justify it by claiming he thought the guy was Richard Pryor , a refeference to that time Pryor set himself on fire .
  • King Kong gets two; Frank distracts someone by pointing at a random building and claiming there's a giant gorilla on it and later, during the Ghost of Christmas Future's first attempt to nab Frank, it takes up multiple TV screens before it's giant skeletal hand reaches out of the screens and behind Frank who has not noticed... only to be interupted by Elliot storming into the office with a shotgun .
  • Grace and her family's surname Cooley is likely a reference to Cooley High
  • Calvin Cooley's name is a direct reference to U.S. President Calvin Coolidge , who was known as a man of few words.
  • Show Within a Show : A TV production of A Christmas Carol is going on while Murray is meeting the ghosts.
  • Sir Not-Appearing-in-This-Trailer : Jamie Farr and Buddy Hackett (they make a cameo at the end) are credited but aren't actually shown in the Heart Warming IBC promo, absolutely none of the cast are mentioned in the Nightmare Fuel promo.
  • Smug Snake : Bryce Cummings, the slimy West-Coast producer called in to "assist" (read: take over from) Frank.
  • In a rather roundabout way, the in-universe Expy of Tiny Tim (Grace's son, Calvin) doesn't end up dead during the Ghost of Christmas Future's visions, instead he ends up locked away in a mental institution.
  • There's James, who is Frank's brother and the expy of Fan, sister of Scrooge, and who is alive while in the book she's been long dead.
  • Stealth Pun : When Frank is hallucinating prior to the arrival of the first ghost, he freaks out at the sight of his drink. Specifically, because there is an eyeball in his highball .
  • Stylistic Suck : IBC's holiday specials give off every indication of being completely atrocious, with Scrooge featuring Buddy Hackett's massacred cockney accent, digressions into animal acts and scantily-clad dancers, dialogue directly conflating the Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come with the Grim Reaper, and a backflipping Tiny Tim played by gymnast Mary Lou Retton.
  • Suggestive Collision When Eliot breaks into the broadcast booth, the censor falls into the lap of a security guard and he cops a feel.
  • Surreal Horror : Once the Ghosts really kick their game into gear, Frank starts experiencing vivid, gruesome hallucinations (which may be caused by his own growing paranoia), and finds himself being transported to past, present, and future without warning, creating an unnerving, dreamlike environment.
  • Take That! : When Frank finds himself in a dark, disgusting, subterranean dungeon: Frank: Where are we now, Trump Tower?
  • That Poor Cat : Frank's boss kicks his own cat after his phone call with Elliot.
  • There Are No Good Executives : Natch. Frank is a greedy bastard who fired an employee for standing up to him based on the depravity over a proposed Scrooge promo and bases his gifts to colleagues based on how ratings for programs were. His superiors Heyward and Rhinelander are even worse (and basically helped to groom him into the Corrupt Corporate Executive he is today) and Bryce Cummings is set to be Frank's replacement and is just as much of a bastard that he is. Although Heyward, in death, learned the error of his ways and tried to warn Frank and the others are either seen or implied to have changed for the better by the end of the film.
  • The Ghost of Christmas Present's first appearance is preceded by a sign reading "The Ballbreaker Suite".
  • When the Ghost of Christmas Past takes Frank to the taping of his show Frisbee of Dog, Frank immediately winces in regret, knowing this is in fact a bad memory. Sure enough, it's the day that he let Claire go in order to prioritize on his television career.
  • Thong of Shielding : The dancers' costumes have thumb-width seats. The FCC censor was more upset about one of them having a nail-clipping worth of areola visible waaaay up close than these.
  • What we see of Frank's and Claire's original split comes off like this. While presumably there were problems before that, we go right from seeing them both quite happy to her dumping him because the President of the network invited them both to dinner (something that could massively advance his career) and it would have meant canceling dinner with friends. Except even there, Frank is shown to be really rather selfish and egocentric. Granted, it's a big opportunity for him, but the way he talks down to her over something they've had planned for months, apparently, is rather blatant foreshadowing that he no longer really sees the point of Christmas and is more interested in what television can do for him. It's also debatable whether Claire really intended to end the relationship. She proposes "taking a break", which could be an attempt to let him down gently, or she could have been sincere. The latter option is plausible because she just about drops everything to come see Frank after he calls her despite it being well over a decade since they spoke. Even when Frank comes to her shelter, demands her to go with him, and insults her fellow volunteers for no real reason, Claire doesn't tell him to take a hike; she implores him to give her just a little time to finish working. Frank leaves in a huff. Maybe the reason they spent so long separated was that Frank just never bothered reaching out to her again after the Frisbee fiasco.
  • A better example is Elliot, whose wife leaves him almost immediately after he's fired.
  • Too Dumb to Live : Herman, the homeless man who confuses Frank for Richard Burton at the homeless shelter, is later found by Frank in a utility space underneath a sidewalk, having frozen to death. Frank rightfully reams his dead body a new one for not staying with Claire at her homeless shelter. Even if he had to eventually be shown the door due to the amount of homeless people who were showing up for food and shelter, there was still no reason he couldn't have found shelter and warmth elsewhere.
  • Too Kinky to Torture : When The Ghost of Christmas Present slaps Frank one too many times, he threatens her with violent retaliation if he hits him again, only for her to comment shes likes it rough. Frank : If you... TOUCH me again, I'm gonna rip your goddamn wings off, okay? TGOCP : Ooo, you know I like the rough stuff, Frank~!!
  • Tranquil Fury : Frank, after hearing future Claire's Meaningful Echo of his own words. Uniquely, the rage is directed fully inward at himself, and all he can manage is a broken, whispered apology for turning her into someone just as cold and heartless as he is.
  • Turn Out Like His Father : After seeing the callous way Frank's father treats him, it's very understandable why he turned out the way he did. Fortunately, he gets better over the course of the film .
  • Turn the Other Cheek : Claire.
  • 20 Minutes into the Future : The Ghost of Christmas Future scenes.
  • Unnecessary Time Precision : Spooked by the Christmas ghosts, Frank reaches out to his ex-wife to make amends with her over how much of a selfish, insensitive prick he was. Of course, the film has to sprinkle some comedy even in the most emotional moments, so we have him checking his watch to seemingly determine exactly how long has it been since he and Claire met. He ends up saying it was maybe a decade or maybe fifteen years. Frank: Listen, I know I haven't talked to you in... [checks watch] ...about 10 or 15 years, but...
  • Even the Ghost of Christmas Past, who's given Frank nothing but shit up to then, sadly shakes his head in sympathy for how his father treated him.
  • Verbed Title : As a pun on "screwed."
  • Villainous Friendship : Lew and Frank seem to have genuinely gotten along, despite being money-hungry bastards.
  • What the Hell, Hero? : The Ghost of Christmas Past calls out Frank for choosing his cutesy children's show over the love of his life. Ghost: You left Claire for Frisbee The Dog ?
  • Whispered Threat : While Frank anticipates The Ghost of Christmas Future, he encounters an actor playing the Ghost of Christmas Future for his channel's production of Scrooge . He assumes that it's him and he breaks down and screams until it devolves into a whisper, "You think I'm afraid of you, after the day I've had?! I know what you're here for! Come and get it, you pussy!"
  • Wide-Eyed Idealist : Again, Claire.
  • Workaholic : Much like the original Scrooge, Frank sees himself as a young man laboring through Christmas while trying to ignore a roaring office party.
  • Yet Another Christmas Carol : Both the movie AND the Show Within a Show .
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the ghost of christmas past dog

Midsomer Murders Wiki

Ghosts of Christmas Past

  • View history

This episode was filmed during season 7, but was broadcasted between the episodes of season 8.

  • 4.1 Body Count
  • 4.2 Supporting Cast
  • 4.3 Episode Images

Galleries [ ]

Body count [ ].

Prior to the Episode

Ferdy Villiers Committed suicide by shooting himself with a shotgun 9 years ago.

In the Episode

Lydia Villiers Lured outside of her room by imitating Alfie's scratching on the door then pushed down the stairs and died later in hospital after failing to kill her by car exhaust gas in her garage prior.

Supporting Cast [ ]

Dominic Jones

Episode Images [ ]

Heading out for Christmas Eve

Midsomer Murders Series 7 Episode 7 - Ghosts of Christmas Past Preview

  • This episode was filmed during series seven , but it was broadcast as part of series eight .

The following actors and actresses who appeared in this episode have also appeared in the following episodes:

  • Tim Treloar - Birds of Prey , The Fisher King and Secrets and Spies
  • Harry Gostelow - Birds of Prey
  • Charles Millham - Hidden Depths and Last Year's Model
  • Haydn Gwynne - Dark Secrets
  • Kevin Doyle - The Oblong Murders
  • Daphne Oxenford - Four Funerals and a Wedding and Blood Wedding
  • John Burgess - Blood Wedding
  • Bryan Matheson - The Axeman Cometh
  • 1 Ghosts of Christmas Past
  • 2 Betty Barnaby
  • 3 Cully Barnaby
  • Cast & crew
  • User reviews

Ghosts of Christmas Past

  • Episode aired Dec 25, 2004

John Nettles in Midsomer Murders (1997)

Nine years after Ferdy Villers killed himself, his family reunites for Christmas, unaware that someone is out for revenge. Nine years after Ferdy Villers killed himself, his family reunites for Christmas, unaware that someone is out for revenge. Nine years after Ferdy Villers killed himself, his family reunites for Christmas, unaware that someone is out for revenge.

  • David Hoskins
  • Caroline Graham
  • John Nettles
  • John Hopkins
  • Jane Wymark
  • 21 User reviews

John Nettles

  • DCI Tom Barnaby

John Hopkins

  • Sergeant Dan Scott

Jane Wymark

  • Joyce Barnaby

Laura Howard

  • Cully Barnaby

Barry Jackson

  • Dr. George Bullard

Haydn Gwynne

  • Jennifer Carter
  • Lydia Villiers

Bruce Alexander

  • Dominic Jones

Mel Martin

  • Kate Frears

Philip Quast

  • Ross Villiers
  • Digby Frears

Alice Patten

  • Aidan Carter

Rory Copus

  • Howard Frears

Lydia Leonard

  • Phoebe Frears

Kevin Doyle

  • Ferdy Villiers
  • Claire English
  • All cast & crew
  • Production, box office & more at IMDbPro

Did you know

  • Trivia The film Scott falls asleep watching is Dead Of Night.
  • Goofs On the tombstone of the magician's assistant, the name is Claire. In the credits, the name is Clare.

DCI Tom Barnaby : [going to his car] Do not feel just because it's Christmas, you can't give us a call, OK? Anything serious happens, I want to know about it, understood?

Sergeant Dan Scott : Yeah, got the message, sir. What are you looking for, an escape from the in-laws?

DCI Tom Barnaby : [turning around and giving him a knowing wink] Now, don't you overdo this evening, all right? Things have a habit of happening around Christmas time, and you may have to be razor sharp in the morning.

  • Connections Features Dead of Night (1945)
  • Soundtracks Midsomer Murders (Theme Song) Written by Jim Parker Performed by Celia Sheen

User reviews 21

  • Oct 20, 2019
  • December 25, 2004 (United Kingdom)
  • United Kingdom
  • Harpsden Court, Harpsden, Oxfordshire, England, UK (Draycott House)
  • Bentley Productions
  • See more company credits at IMDbPro

Technical specs

  • Runtime 1 hour 42 minutes

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  • Be Cool, Scooby-Doo! season 2 villains
  • Ghosts and ghouls

Ghost of Christmas Past (Scroogey Doo)

  • View history

The Ghost of Christmas Past was believed to be a real ghost but it was really Dr. Buggly in disguise.

  • 1 Physical appearance
  • 2 Personality
  • 3.1.1 Season two
  • 4 Appearances

Physical appearance [ ]

The Ghost of Christmas Past resembled a pale and skinny blue-skinned woman with red eyes, light blue lips and long wild white hair. She wore a long loose and tattered light blue dress, as well as being covered with a white-bluish glow. During the false vision Velma was forced to have about her childhood, the ghost appeared less monstrous, with normal eyes, straight hair and her dress being completely intact.

Personality [ ]

Insert details here.

History [ ]

Be cool, scooby-doo [ ].


Dr. Buggly dressing up as the Ghost of Christmas Past.

Season two [ ]

Appearances [ ].

  • 210. Scroogey Doo
  • 1 Professor Pericles
  • 3 Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated

The Telegraph

The Telegraph

A Ghost Story for Christmas: Lot No 249, BBC Two, review: Mark Gatiss remains the king of spooks

Posted: December 24, 2023 | Last updated: December 24, 2023

Since his days dispensing gothic laughs in The League of Gentlemen, among the strings Mark Gatiss has added to his bow is petrifier-in-chief and scholarly professor of shrieks. In the last decade his ghost-story adaptations have become an annual treat which pay homage not only to MR James but also to television’s bygone era of half-hour chills. This year marks a departure. A Ghost Story for Christmas: Lot No 249 (BBC Two) is from the pen of Arthur Conan Doyle .

Published in 1892, it’s a High Victorian tale set in an Oxford college where Egyptology is a new-fangled product of empire – Egypt had been occupied by the British 10 years earlier. From this geopolitical fact Conan Doyle’s imagination conjured up what is acknowledged as the original mummy horror story.

The bandaged cadaver in question – the titular lot no 249 sold at auction – lies inertly gurning in the rooms of Edward Bellingham (Freddie Fox), a secretive orientalist who professes ignorance when creepy things start happening in the night, first to his pretty protégé Monkhouse Lee (Colin Ryan), then to stolidly unsuggestible medic Abercrombie Smith ( Kit Harington ).

Gatiss, as we know, has had previous dealings with Conan Doyle. While the source material has nothing to do with Sherlock Holmes, he can’t resist a tempting referential wink. Smith tells the whole tale to an unnamed friend (John Heffernan), a cool-headed rationalist who is thinking of moving to new rooms in Baker Street and proposes that they co-habit.

But this is a genre which has no business with detection, so this prototype Holmes is merely a curious listener. And anyway, Smith won’t be able to move to Baker Street or anywhere else. Bellingham, forced by Smith to destroy lot no 249 and all associated papyruses, turns out to have a lot no 250.

The mummy, embodied in rags by James Swanton without a stitch of CGI, makes for a satisfying ghoul. The night-time settings and yards of wood panelling add atmosphere. And Fox is a blissfully sinister foil to Harington’s stolid homo Victorianus, whose reserve dissolves into a weird, horrified laughter in the final image. How scary the story actually is might be better answered by those in the age bracket that Gatiss belonged to when he first got obsessed with horror. The biggest shock I got was hearing the phrase “colour me intrigued”, from a construction whose first usage was cited in 1962.

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Colin Ryan, Kit Harington and Freddie Fox in A Ghost Story for Christmas: Lot No 249 - Colin Hutton/BBC

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Colin Ryan, Kit Harington and Freddie Fox in A Ghost Story for Christmas: Lot No 249.

A Ghost Story for Christmas: Lot No 249 review – Mark Gatiss’s camp, creepy tale is absolutely bang on

The Sherlock creator’s annual festive spookathon is predictably hammy and great. It’s a clever take on Arthur Conan Doyle’s mummy revenge story that’s as tight as a pair of Victorian breeches

O ld College, Oxford, 1881: a mummified – sorry, rarefied – world of moustachioed men jogging around quads in white shorts. Men who understand the significance of men who drink “Scotch in the jug, Irish in the bottle”. (Me neither.) Men who dabble in the dark arts of – shiver – “eastern studies”. Basically, men … plus one mummy of the dead rather than the female variety. Auction lot no 249. About 40 centuries old. Bad teeth. May be under the command of Ned Bellingham, the kind of fanatical Egyptology student you definitely don’t want to come across in an Arthur Conan Doyle story. Could this “bag of bones” be responsible for the attempted garrotting and drowning of two students, both of whom happen to have crossed Bellingham? Great Scot, it’s Mark Gatiss’s Christmas ghost story!

Conan Doyle is to Gatiss what Sherlock is to Watson or, indeed, empire was to the Victorians. So there is something fitting about the chap who brought Sherlock back to life resurrecting a Conan Doyle horror story for the trad Christmas Eve slippers-and-scares slot. Once again, Gatiss gets it tonally bang on. His adaptation of Lot No 249, originally published in Harper’s Magazine in 1892 and considered to be the first mummy revenge story, is creepy, clever, hammy and camp, with as many delectable moments as a box of Lindt chocolates. It makes my festive bones ache for Sherlock the movie. The mummy, in full throttle, is terrifying. And, in the spirit of Inside No 9, which it also evokes, it is as tight as a pair of Victorian breeches, coming in at a very satisfying half hour.

Abercrombie Smith (Kit Harington) is the quintessential Victorian hero: square-jawed, rational, destined for a promising future in medicine (and Game of Thrones). Lot No 249 opens with him “unmanned” by fear, banging on the door of his brilliant pipe-smoking, dressing-gowned friend. (Yes, exactly who you think he is.) He points to a lamplit figure outside the window who, he insists, chased him here. Takes a little brandy. Prepares to tell his friend “the whole black business”.

Seven weeks earlier … Smith is discussing Bellingham with another neighbour, the unworldly foreign student Monkhouse Lee (Colin Ryan) (it’s always the foreigners who are unworldly in Victorian Britain). Lee appears to have been seduced, then discarded by Bellingham, a bright but bad-tempered student immersed in “arcane bits and bobs” among other things. “Drink? Cards? A cad?” Smith enquires. Worse. Eastern studies! When we finally lay eyes on Bellingham (Freddie Fox in suitably louche, floppy-haired form), he appears to be dead. Apart from his heart, which is going “like a pair of castanets”. Smith blames the heathen pipe … or could it be the influence of Bellingham’s newly acquired Egyptian mummy?

It is all long shadows across wood-panelled rooms and robust calls for hip flasks of brandy. The score is suitably melodramatic, and the performances just straight-faced enough to preserve the irony, so it teeters on the brink of pastiche without toppling over. The most enjoyable moment, notably not in Conan Doyle’s story, is when the action loops back to the scene when Lot No 249 opens: Smith visiting his friend for help. At which point things get ur-Sherlockian. Once Smith has stopped shaking like an aspen leaf, he asks his friend: “Are you still set on returning to London?” “I have my eyes on a suite of rooms at Baker Street,” he replies. Gatiss also uses this scene as a chance to whip out one of Conan Doyle’s great lines, also not in Lot No 249, but who gives a deuce: “The world is big enough for us. No ghosts need apply.” Brilliant.

Conan Doyle penned Lot No 249 when Victorian Britain was in the grip of Egyptomania. A fascination that led to the excavation, export and loot of ancient treasures to museums all over Europe. By the century’s end, a greater awareness of the fate of the Egyptian dynasties was also contributing to the growing Victorian fear of the decline of their own empire. Ancient Egypt, then, represented a source of inspiration as well as a warning from the past.

“You’re just the sort of chap to keep the flags of empire flying,” Bellingham praises Smith, his hand snaking round the back of an Oxford bench. “I can see you putting down a native uprising in Sudan.” Gatiss, always brilliant on the particularities of 19th-century homoeroticism, has also gifted us a Victorian Christmas ghost story that regards itself as an end-of-empire chiller. Conan Doyle chose to express the doubt and fear inherent in Egyptomania through the form of a mummy on the rampage in the centre of the establishment. More than a century later, perhaps the most sinister aspect of Lot No 249 is how powerful its symbolic relevance remains. The ghosts of empire continue to haunt this country, even, perhaps especially, at the most wonderful time of the year.

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  • Television & radio
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  15. Everything You Need to Know About 'Scrooge: A Christmas Carol'

    Marley's ghost also tells Scrooge to expect three more visits from three powerful spirits — the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future. The first visit reminds Scrooge of the painful experiences that shaped him, while the second shows how his actions hurt others. The last stop is a peek into the grim future that awaits him.

  16. Scrooged

    Based on the 1843 novella A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, Scrooged is a modern retelling that follows Bill Murray as Frank Cross, a cynical and selfish television executive who is visited by a succession of ghosts on Christmas Eve intent on helping him regain his Christmas spirit.

  17. Ghosts of Christmas past

    Ghosts of Christmas past. Black and white photos evoke memories of those who loved us. Kurt Ullrich. Dec. 24, 2023 7:36 am (Kurt Ullrich photo) Earlier I was in my basement looking for an unused ...

  18. Ghosts of Christmas Past (TV Movie 2021)

    8 Photos Comedy Romance Ellie is told by a fortune teller that she must resolve her past and make amends with all of those she ghosted before Christmas and discovers love in the process. Director Virginia Abramovich Writers John Hartman Shannon Latimer Stars Annie Clark Dan Jeannotte Morgan David Jones See production info at IMDbPro STREAMING

  19. Scrooged (1988)

    Bill Murray: Frank Cross Showing all 109 items Jump to: Photos (59) Quotes (50) Photos 36 more photos Quotes Frank Cross : The bitch hit me with a toaster! Frank Cross : It's Christmas Eve! It's... it's the one night of the year when we all act a little nicer, we smile a little easier, we... we cheer a little more.

  20. ‎Sanctified: Ghost of Christmas past. on Apple Podcasts

    ‎Show Sanctified, Ep Ghost of Christmas 🎄 past. - Dec 13, 2023

  21. Scrooged (Film)

    A 1988 comedy film directed by Richard Donner and starring Bill Murray, Scrooged is a moderately loose modern-day retelling of A Christmas Carol, with the twist of taking place In a World… where everyone is already familiar with Dickens's tale.

  22. Ghosts of Christmas Past

    David Hoskins Director Renny Rye Ghosts of Christmas Past is a special episode of the popular ITV crime drama Midsomer Murders that was aired on Christmas Day of 2004. This episode was filmed during season 7, but was broadcasted between the episodes of season 8. Contents 1 Synopsis 2 Plot 3 Cast 4 Galleries 4.1 Body Count 4.2 Supporting Cast

  23. "Midsomer Murders" Ghosts of Christmas Past (TV Episode 2004)

    1h 42m IMDb RATING 8.2 /10 1.1K YOUR RATING Rate Play trailer 0:57 1 Video 1 Photo Crime Drama Mystery Nine years after Ferdy Villers killed himself, his family reunites for Christmas, unaware that someone is out for revenge. Director Renny Rye Writers David Hoskins Caroline Graham Stars John Nettles John Hopkins Jane Wymark

  24. Ghost of Christmas Past (Scroogey Doo)

    The Ghost of Christmas Past was believed to be a real ghost but it was really Dr. Buggly in disguise. The Ghost of Christmas Past resembled a pale and skinny blue-skinned woman with red eyes, light blue lips and long wild white hair. She wore a long loose and tattered light blue dress, as well as being covered with a white-bluish glow. During the false vision Velma was forced to have about her ...

  25. A Ghost Story for Christmas: Lot No 249, BBC Two, review: Mark ...

    A Ghost Story for Christmas: Lot No 249 (BBC Two) is from the pen of Arthur Conan Doyle. Published in 1892, it's a High Victorian tale set in an Oxford college where Egyptology is a new-fangled ...

  26. A Ghost Story for Christmas: Lot No 249 review

    O ld College, Oxford, 1881: a mummified - sorry, rarefied - world of moustachioed men jogging around quads in white shorts. Men who understand the significance of men who drink "Scotch in ...

  27. A Christmas Carol: The Ghost of Christmas Past Quotes

    Take heed!" Scrooge is not yet convinced of the value of being visited by Ghosts and asks for an explanation. In this conversation, the Ghost of Christmas Past asserts that he plays a vitally important role. He also shows that he can read Scrooge's mind—a fact revealed over and over during the course of their time together.