Remember Me (4 stars)

Remember Me

Old-fashioned ghostly fare with a modern twist from the BBC starring Michael Palin

While Christmas is traditionally viewed as the ideal time for retelling ghost stories, the BBC have sprung their spooks on us early with Remember Me. This three-part drama already contains an inherent rising from the crypt with the acting career of Michael Palin being resurrected. Until now, it had lain dormant since his 1991 role as genial headmaster Jim Nelson in Alan Bleasdale’s landmark GBH. Of course, being genial is what Palin does, whether he’s donning some slacks to retrace Hemingway’s footsteps across Europe and the Caribbean or being interviewed on the wireless or even bringing a modicum of dignity to the moneyspinning credo of Python’s recent reunion.

Here, he gets his teeth fully into the role of someone that may or may not actually be a lovely old Yorkshireman called Tom Parfitt who, by his own insistence, is aged ’80 odd’. We know straight away that something is not quite right given that he fakes a fall in his own house in order to move into a nursing home. Describing it as ‘the best day of my life’ to confused young care assistant Hannah (Jodie Comer), he seems central to a mysterious death in his new surroundings.

This triggers further inexplicable acts of violence and weirdness, offering up a genuine mystery for unmotivated cop Robert (Mark Addy) to lose himself in. The answers seem to lie in an old photograph, an ancient folk song and a scary looking lady dressed in red.

Remember Me
harks deliciously back to small screen adaptations of MR James tales such as ‘Oh, Whistle, and I’ll Come to You, My Lad’ with a creepy atmosphere suggesting horror rather than simply showing us what we should be scared of far too soon. But it’s also canny enough to use modern technology to its advantage, such as the moment when a camera phone cranks up the tension by instantly showing us an unexplained and terrifying image. It would be easy to say don’t watch this alone or late at night, but for those are, that’s the perfect scenario to fully embrace Remember Me’s fear.

Remember Me starts on BBC One, Sun 23 Nov, 9pm.

Remember Me: Trailer - BBC One