Stigma (1977 film)

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A Ghost Story for Christmas episode
Titlescreen of the production. The red blob morphs into a Citroën Dyane driven past a row of standing stones by the main character.[1]
Episode no. Season 1
Episode 7
Directed by Lawrence Gordon Clark
Written by Clive Exton
Original air date 28 December 1977
Episode chronology
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"The Signalman"
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Stigma is the penultimate of the eight short films originally broadcast as part of the BBC's A Ghost Story for Christmas series of the 1970s, the first of only two set in the year of its making, and the last which mainstay Lawrence Gordon Clark would direct.[2] It was first shown on BBC One on 29 December 1977, postponed from its original scheduled broadcast date of 28 December. Scripted by Clive Exton, the thirty minute piece stars Kate Binchy, Peter Bowles and Maxine Gordon.

The film concerns an apparently dysfunctional rural family who come together for a meal as workmen attempt to lift a large, heavy stone from their garden, part of an ancient stone circle. As the stone is lifted, a skeleton is unearthed and an ancient curse is unleashed, which causes the mother to bleed uncontrollably, despite having no wounds; the implication is that her body is re-enacting the ritual sacrifice of a witch.[3]

The production is unlike its predecessors in several ways; it is the first of the strand to be an original story and the first set in the then-present day. Critical opinion is decidedly mixed, with the decision to move away from adaptations of classic ghost stories the main concern; David Kerekes has suggested that "the problem is that this is not a ghost story. Stigma is a straight down the line horror story. Although it's a perfectly competent television production, it just doesn't fit in with the feel of what a Christmas ghost story should be."[1]


  1. ^ a b David Kerekes, Creeping Flesh: The Horror Fantasy Film Book: Volume 1 p.36
  2. ^ A Ghost Story for Christmas
  3. ^ Helen Wheatley, Gothic Television, 2006 p. 55

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