Hauling Like A Brooligan

Stephen Gallagher

No Ann Radcliffe at the BBC


After Saturday’s mass signing at Forbidden Planet, and catching up with old friends at the enjoyable British Fantasy Society open event afterwards, a less pressured Sunday included a visit to The British Library’s exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination before the drive home.

The exhibition follows a path from Otranto to the present day that will be familiar to the dedicated reader of horror and the fantastic, and which provides a crash course in the essentials to anyone new to the field. Where the BL excels is in its access to original materials – first editions, letters, manuscripts… if you don’t get a kick from a note written in Poe’s own hand, or original Frankenstein pages in Mary Shelley’s handwriting with Percy’s additions crowded into the margins, then this kind of thing is probably not for you.

It’s atmospherically presented, driven by literature (obviously) but with further coverage of the films, art and architecture that extended the Gothic sensibility into wider culture. I doubt that many of us read Frankenstein and then were moved to seek out the movies; it tends to work the other way around.

A few years ago I proposed an adaptation of Ann Radcliffe’s The Mysteries of Udolpho to the BBC. Not an easy book to ‘find the movie in’, as anyone who’s ever picked it up will know. Got nowhere with it then and, with the way that drama commissioning has moved since, I don’t expect to, ever.

So, inspired by Terror and Wonder, I’m putting it online. This was my pitch document – making the case, breaking down the story, outlining a production approach. Should you happen to be interested.