Those of you who can remember the tradition of the television Ghost Story for Christmas might well welcome this three-part chiller which represents Michael Palin’s first acting appearance since GBH back in 1991.
Tom Parfitt is leaving his home after a tumble down the stairs to live in a care home, and quickly events start to unravel around him when his friendly social worker, Alison, takes a tumble from his bedroom window. He has brought no luggage but has an old photograph which over the first two episodes becomes pivotal in breaking through a mystery which cannot possibly be true.
In depicting a man who is ’80-odd’ on the surface but far older, it transpires, Palin does well throughout the two episodes in which he takes centre stage (the first and the last). The other main parts are a policeman, Rob, who has recovered from a breakdown following the collapse of his marriage, and who starts to doubt his instincts (played by Mark Addy) and a young girl, Hannah, who finds some focus in the attention she can pay to the old man and his songs of Scarborough which intrigue her (played by Jodie Comer).
Hannah and her young brother Sean (Jamie Rooney-West) are neglected by their mother (an almost unrecognizable Julia Sawalha) and she only finds a weird purpose when she starts to be pulled into the mystery of what really happened in the past of the mysterious Mr Parfitt.
Remember Me is an atmospheric piece with superior cinematography and great sound balance with water drips, ghostly singing, and echoes of dialogue. Ashley Pearce directs Gwyneth Hughes’ screenplay, and Noreen Kershaw, Rebekah Staton, Sheila Hancock, Mayuri Boonhamn and Eileen Davies are amongst a good cast.
You need a certain suspension of belief to swallow the twists in this tale, especially those which hark back to Imperial India, but that was the same in the days of the old MR James adaptations. This doesn’t quite reach their heights, but I liked the watery ending, and the final singing of Scarborough Fair by Palin over the credits. That is, I would have done, had the BBC announcer not jumped in straight away to tell us about the next programme.