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The Broadcast Afterlife of the Christmas Ghost Story
There is a long tradition in the UK, in England in particular, of the Christmas ghost story. The most famous is probably Dickens’ A Christmas Carol in Prose, Being a Ghost Story of Christmas, but close behind are the ghost stories of M.R.James. James wrote many of his stories as Christmas entertainments, but this link was reinforced in the 1970s when the BBC broadcast an annual Ghost Story for Christmas, most of which were adapted from James. However, these are not the only examples of broadcast Christmas ghost stories, which also include Christmas episodes of typically non-supernatural programmes which are given a supernatural twist. This paper will examine the significance of this broadcast afterlife of the Christmas ghost story, as a perpetuator of tradition, retaining a largely oral delivery, but which is also subject to the shifting broadcast landscape. This subjects the Christmas ghost story to the gaze of those without this specific cultural tradition, raising the potential for confusion in valuable international markets. In turn, this raises the question of whether the culturally-specific Christmas ghost story has much of an afterlife left in the face of the internationalisation of broadcasting.