Mystery and Imagination

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Mystery and Imagination
Genre Horror anthology
Starring David Buck
Country of origin United Kingdom
Original language(s) English
No. of series 5
No. of episodes 24
Producer(s) ABC Television
(Series 1—3)
Thames Television
(Series 4—5)
Original channel ITV
Original run 29 January 1966 –
23 February 1970

Mystery and Imagination is a British television anthology series of classic horror and supernatural dramas. Five series were broadcast from 1966 to 1970 by the ITV network and produced by ABC and (later) Thames Television.[1]


The series featured Television plays based on the works of well-known authors such as Robert Louis Stevenson, Bram Stoker, Mary Shelley, M. R. James, and Edgar Allan Poe. All bar one of the first two ABC series starred David Buck as Richard Beckett, originally a character from Sheridan Le Fanu's story "The Flying Dragon", as narrator. Beckett was made the central character of the series, taking the roles of various characters from some of the original stories.[2] The first two series, although transmitted as two separate runs, were recorded in a single production block. The episode without Buck ("The Open Door") features Jack Hawkins in the lead.


Series 1[edit]

# Title Story Original airdate
1 "The Lost Stradivarius" J. Meade Falkner January 29, 1966 (1966-01-29)
2 "The Body Snatcher" Robert Louis Stevenson February 5, 1966 (1966-02-05)
3 "The Fall of the House of Usher" Edgar Allan Poe February 12, 1966 (1966-02-12)
4 "The Open Door" Margaret Oliphant February 19, 1966 (1966-02-19)
5 "The Tractate Middoth" M. R. James February 26, 1966 (1966-02-26)
6 "Lost Hearts" M. R. James March 5, 1966 (1966-03-05)
7 "The Canterville Ghost" Oscar Wilde March 12, 1966 (1966-03-12)

Series 2[edit]

# Title Story Original airdate
8 "Room 13" M. R. James October 22, 1966 (1966-10-22)
9 "The Beckoning Shadow" Charlotte Riddell October 29, 1966 (1966-10-29)
10 "The Flying Dragon" Sheridan Le Fanu November 5, 1966 (1966-11-05)
11 "Carmilla" Sheridan Le Fanu November 12, 1966 (1966-11-12)
12 "The Phantom Lover" Vernon Lee November 19, 1966 (1966-11-19)

Series 3[edit]

# Title Story Original airdate
13 "Casting the Runes" M. R. James March 22, 1968 (1968-03-22)
14 "The Listener" Algernon Blackwood March 30, 1968 (1968-03-30)
15 "A Place of One's Own" Osbert Sitwell April 6, 1968 (1968-04-06)
16 "The Devil's Piper" Walter Scott April 13, 1968 (1968-04-13)
17 "The Tell-Tale Heart" Edgar Allan Poe June 22, 1968 (1968-06-22)
18 "Feet Foremost" L. P. Hartley June 29, 1968 (1968-06-29)

Series 4[edit]

# Title Story Original airdate
19 "Uncle Silas" Sheridan Le Fanu November 4, 1968 (1968-11-04)
20 "Frankenstein" Mary Shelley November 11, 1968 (1968-11-11)
21 "Dracula" Bram Stoker November 18, 1968 (1968-11-18)

Series 5[edit]

# Title Story Original airdate
22 "The Suicide Club" Robert Louis Stevenson February 9, 1970 (1970-02-09)
23 "Sweeney Todd" George Dibdin-Pitt February 16, 1970 (1970-02-16)
24 "The Curse of the Mummy" Bram Stoker February 23, 1970 (1970-02-23)

Archive status and availability[edit]

Only the versions of "The Fall of the House of Usher" and "The Open Door" (series 1) from the ABC era exist in the archives. All the other episodes from the first three series are not known to exist, although the Thames episodes (series 4 and 5) survive.[3] A brief clip from Casting the Runes (from series 3) also exists.

Network DVD has released all eight remaining episodes on a four disc set along with the surviving clips of 'Casting the Runes'.[4]


  1. ^ The change from ABC to Thames occurred because of the July 1968 franchise changes.
  2. ^ IMDb claims Buck appears in eleven episodes from the first two series. According to Helen Wheatley "Mystery and Imagination" in Janet Thurmin Small Screens, Big Ideas: Television in the 1950s [sic], London: IB Tauris, 2002, p.169-70, Buck also appears in the third.
  3. ^ Mystery and Imagination,
  4. ^ "Mystery and Imagination". Network DVD. Retrieved 2009-07-04. 

External links[edit]