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The Nightmare Man

The BBC has a long history of delivering quirky and intelligent drama, be it science-fiction, crime stories, thrillers or something else entirely. One example the springs to mind is 1981 drama The Nightmare Man1 adapted for television by genre hero Robert Holmes 2.

This short, 4-part drama contains all the elements you need for a classic British creepy story; a remote Scottish island, a new arrival and of course, a mystery that needs solving. In this case, a series of bizarre murders, caused by some sort of weird thing. As the cast get bumped off in gruesome ways and more mystery gets stirred into the plot, the tale gets darker and more bizarre with every turn.

The series features familiar faces looking much younger than you're used to

This is classic eighties telly, and proves the point that you don’t need a big budget to achieve a strong story, The Nightmare Man was shot on location in Cornwall with a cast that would be familiar to anyone who’s ever watched something made by the BBC.
Though the pacing is slow (a common feature for dramas made last century), this lends the series a much needed feeling of claustrophobia. The Nightmare Man is just the right size. Too much longer and we’d want to know more and if it was any shorter some viewers would be confused. 3

Fans of spooky stories with a distinctly British edge will enjoy this. If you’re a fine of the likes of Steven Moffat or Warren Ellis, I’m confident that’ll you get a kick out of this.


1: Based on a book called the Child of Vodyanoi by David Wiltshire. The story is apparently inspired by the Howard Hawk’s 1951 movie The Thing from Another World; the same movie which inspired both John Carpenter’s The Thing and Ridley Scott’s Alien. Or to put it another way, the story has an excellent heritage.
2: Robert Holmes wrote some of the more popular and well-known episodes of Doctor Who, including Spearhead in Space, which introduced us to John Pertwee as the third Doctor and the Autons and The Talons of Weng Chiang, which gave us Tom Baker in a deer-stalker doing a Sherlock Holmes impersonation. Holmes also wrote scripts for police drama, Juliet Bravo.
3: TV Tropes calls this British Brevity. If you’ve never seen the TV Tropes website before, I should warn you that it’s a massive time sink.

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