The Secret of Crickley Hall reached a suitably melodramatic climax this evening, as the third and final episode of the ghost story adapted from James Herbert's novel drew together the strands of its two story-lines, one from 1943, one contemporary. This has been a very popular show - yesterday a fellow writer whose judgment I respect was telling me how much she'd enjoyed it, and I've noted that my review of the first episode has already entered the list of the top ten most viewed of all the blog posts I've written. And since I've written over 1500 so far, that's quite something.
Much of the strength of the show came from the quality of the acting rather than the scariness of the story. When David Warner, playing (for once) a good guy, met his old adversary, played by Donald Sumpter, it was a pleasure to watch two highly accomplished veteran actors at work. Suranne Jones and Tom Ellis were good as the bereaved couple who made the mistake of taking a break from their ordinary lives at a place as sinister as Crickley Hall. And Douglas Henshall was such a nasty chap as the deranged Augustus Cribben that it will be fascinating to see how he copes with the very different role of Jimmy Perez in the forthcoming series based on Ann Cleeves' books, Shetland.
I wondered how the scriptwriter, Joe Ahearne, would manage to produce a "happy ending" suitable for the Sunday evening light entertainment slot without making the whole thing unacceptably twee. By and large, I think he managed to achieve the objective. That said, there were one or two elements that didn't quite work for me. For instance, the character of Cribben's dodgy sister wasn't clearly developed, and although there was an interesting glimpse of the (by now, very aged) sister in the present day that was pleasingly macabre, I'd have liked to know more about what she'd got up to since the 1940s.
I've read some very negative reviews of the show, including a rather witty if withering put-down of the early family scenes in episode one ("Alfred Hitchcock doing Outnumbered"). All the same, I'm glad I stayed with it. It doesn't bear comparison with, say, The Innocents, which is still definitely unsettling 50 years on, but it was well-fashioned light entertainment.