Ice House, The: A Ghost Story For Christmas (BBC-1 1978, John Stride)

In the decidedly off kilter Ghost Story For Christmas entry The Ice House Paul (played by brilliant star of The Main Chance John Stride) is spending time at a health retreat in the country. He is disturbed when his cold handed masseuse Bob asks for help, even more so when Bob then disappears.

Egged on by the retreat owners – brother and sister Jessica and Clovis, Paul is drawn to a Victorian Ice House on the estate (literally used to store Ice in pre-refrigeration days). Each time Paul approaches the Ice House he feels genuinely scared and when he does build up the courage to enter the building (at night funnily enough) he discovers Bob encased in a block of Ice.

Everyone acts in a deliciously camp manner, from Stride’s smelling of the flowers to the dialogue itself. Close your eyes while you read the next bit if you don’t want to know the pay off but it’s clear the estate is a Halfway House between the living and the dead. Jessica and Clovis acting as the gatekeepers and the Ice House itself the entry point to death. The ice serving to preserve the body until it’s owner is ready to accept it’s fate.

Paul (John Stride) is permanently cold and unable to get warm. Just one of the strange things happening in The Ice House.

Writer John Bowen often dabbled in these type of stories, rural and/or pagan stories of other worldly menace, he was most noted for his play Robin Redbreast but all of his work leaves you thinking. Stride had appeared the year before this in Bowen’s equally ambiguous Play For Today – A Photograph. Earlier in 1978 Bowen also wrote an episode of Stride’s popular ITV series Wilde Alliance, this was called A Game For Two Players.

Rather than A Ghost Story For Christmas its official billing was Christmas Ghost Story.

Series: A Ghost Story For Christmas Episode 8

classic quote
“My brother and I do not approve of death you see.”

production details

Cast: John Stride as Paul; David Beames as Bob; Elizabeth Romilly as Jessica; Geoffrey Burridge as Clovis; Gladys Spencer as Diamond Lady; Eirene Beck as Rossetti Lady; Sam Avent as Gentleman Guest; Dennis Jennings as Gentleman Guest; Ronald Mayer as Gentleman Guest

Writer: John Bowen / Production Design: Roger Murray-Leach / Director: Derek Lister

UK / BBC One / 1×40 minute episode / Broadcast 25 December 1978 at 11.35pm

Alastair James is the editor in chief for Memorable TV. He has been involved in media since his university days. Alastair is passionate about television, and some of his favourite shows include Line of Duty, Luther and Traitors. He is always on the lookout for hot new shows, and is always keen to share his knowledge with others.