Mystery and Imagination

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Mystery and Imagination
GenreHorror anthology
StarringDavid Buck
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original language(s)English
No. of series5
No. of episodes24
Producer(s)ABC Television
(Series 1—3)
Thames Television
(Series 4—5)
Original networkITV
Original release29 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. Unlike BBC dramas from the period, location exterior shots were also recorded onto video tape rather than 16mm film, giving a more consistent look to the production. Only series 5 was filmed in colour.


Series 1[edit]

# Title Story Original airdate
1"The Lost Stradivarius"J. Meade Falkner29 January 1966 (1966-01-29)
2"The Body Snatcher"Robert Louis Stevenson5 February 1966 (1966-02-05)
3"The Fall of the House of Usher"Edgar Allan Poe12 February 1966 (1966-02-12)
4"The Open Door"Margaret Oliphant19 February 1966 (1966-02-19)
5"The Tractate Middoth"M. R. James26 February 1966 (1966-02-26)
6"Lost Hearts"M. R. James5 March 1966 (1966-03-05)
7"The Canterville Ghost"Oscar Wilde12 March 1966 (1966-03-12)

Series 2[edit]

# Title Story Original airdate
8"Room 13"M. R. James22 October 1966 (1966-10-22)
9"The Beckoning Shadow"Charlotte Riddell29 October 1966 (1966-10-29)
10"The Flying Dragon"Sheridan Le Fanu5 November 1966 (1966-11-05)
11"Carmilla"Sheridan Le Fanu12 November 1966 (1966-11-12)
12"The Phantom Lover"Vernon Lee19 November 1966 (1966-11-19)

Series 3[edit]

# Title Story Original airdate
13"Casting the Runes"M. R. James22 March 1968 (1968-03-22)
14"The Listener"Algernon Blackwood30 March 1968 (1968-03-30)
15"A Place of One's Own"Osbert Sitwell6 April 1968 (1968-04-06)
16"The Devil's Piper"Walter Scott13 April 1968 (1968-04-13)
17"The Tell-Tale Heart"Edgar Allan Poe22 June 1968 (1968-06-22)
18"Feet Foremost"L. P. Hartley29 June 1968 (1968-06-29)

Series 4[edit]

# Title Story Original airdate
19"Uncle Silas"Sheridan Le Fanu4 November 1968 (1968-11-04)
20"Frankenstein"Mary Shelley11 November 1968 (1968-11-11)
21"Dracula"Bram Stoker18 November 1968 (1968-11-18)

Series 5[edit]

# Title Story Original airdate
22"The Suicide Club"Robert Louis Stevenson9 February 1970 (1970-02-09)
23"Sweeney Todd"George Dibdin Pitt16 February 1970 (1970-02-16)
24"The Curse of the Mummy"Bram Stoker23 February 1970 (1970-02-23)

Archive status and availability[edit]

Of the episodes from the ABC era, only the versions of "The Fall of the House of Usher" and "The Open Door" (series 1) have survived. 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. Domestic audio recordings of the otherwise missing episodes "The Lost Stradivarius", "The Body Snatcher", "The Tractate Middoth", "Lost Hearts", "The Canterville Ghost" and "Room 13" also exist.

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]