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Playhouse: Mrs Acland’s Ghosts (BBC 1975, Sara Kestelman, John Bluthal)

In the subdued but excellent Playhouse drama Mrs Acland’s Ghosts tailor Mr Mockler receives a letter from a woman he has never met, Mrs Acland, who tells him the story of how the three ghosts of her childhood siblings have continued to make appearances in her life. Mockler is somewhat disturbed by the letter and even feels a presence in the room whilst reading it. Investigating further he discovers that Mrs Acland is now in a mental institution (having been placed there by her husband) and was in fact an only child.

William Trevor is a fabulous writer and is on fine form here. Mrs Acland’s Ghosts was one of two Playhouse productions (along with The Breakthrough which paved the way for the following years supernatural/out of the ordinary series The Mind Beyond. The central tenet of the story here is that even though Mrs Acland has only imagined the ghosts, her “memories” are strong enough to make the ghosts an actuality. Strong performances too, especially from John Bluthal as Mockler who is usally seen in more comic roles but has a nicely melancholic tone here.

production details
UK / BBC / 1×60 minute episode / Broadcast 15 January 1975

Writer: William Trevor / Costumes: Dorothea Wallace / Production Design: Michael Young / Producer: Irene Shubik / Director: Mike Newell

cast
SARA KESTELMAN as Mrs Acland
JOHN BLUTHAL as Mr Mockler
JAMES GROUT as Dr Friendman
FRANK MIDDLEMASS as Mr Acland
BETTY BASKCOMB as Mrs Rachels
CLIFFORD KERSHAW as Mr Rachels
EDWARD HAMMOND as Tom
CARL DUERING as Mr Tile
RONALD MAYER as Mr Swayles
ERIC RICHARD as Porter
HAZEL CAVE as Nurse