Mark Gatiss Returns to Arthur Conan Doyle for the Holidays

Kit Harington and Freddie Fox will star in Mark Gatiss' Christmas short film 'Lot no. 249'

Kit Harington and Freddie Fox will star in Mark Gatiss' Christmas short film 'Lot No. 249'

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It’s been about seven years since Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat hung up their pens on the modernized Sherlock starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman. The series, which had about as many dedicated, passionate fans as it did detractors by the time it was over, ended in 2017. Though there have been hints of a return, all four of the aforementioned have been so booked and busy that it seems highly unlikely the series will ever be revived. However, at least one would inevitably find their way back to Arthur Conan Doyle’s works in some fashion, and the first to break will be Gatiss, who is adapting one of the writer’s non-Sherlock stories for Christmas.

Deadline reveals that Gatiss, who has been doing a Christmas ghost short story film a year every season for BBC 2 since 2018, after Sherlock ended, selected Conan Doyle’s Lot No 249 as this year's adaptation. Gatiss’ initial BBC Christmas special came in 2013 (the year Sherlock was on hiatus), with M.R. James’ The Tractate Middoth in 2013 (starring a young Sacha Dhawan). Since resuming the tradition in 2018, he’s adapted other M.R. James stories like Martin’s Close (starring Peter Capaldi), The Mezzotint (starring Rory Kinnear), and Count Magnus (starring Jason Watkins) and written The Dead Room (starring Simon Callow).

Lot No. 249 will star two prominent names familiar to American audiences, with Game of Thrones Kit Harington playing opposite Slow Horses Freddie Fox. “It’s a serious delight for me to delve once again into the brilliant work of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, this time for the Christmas Ghost story,” said Gatiss in the press release. “Lot No.249 is a personal favorite and is the grand-daddy — or should that be Mummy? — of a kind of end-of-empire chiller: a ripping yarn packed with ghastly scares and who-knows-what lurking in the Victorian closet.”

Here’s the film’s synopsis:

The story follows a group of Oxford students, one of whom undertakes research into the secrets of Ancient Egypt and becomes the talk of the college. Can these experiments truly breathe life into the horrifying bag of bones which is the mysterious Lot No 249?

Harington will play Abercrombie Smith, and Fox will play Edward Bellingham. The cast also includes Colin Ryan (Leonardo), John Heffernan (Becoming Elizabeth), James Swanton (A Werewolf in England), Jonathan Rigby (Father Brown), and Andrew Horton (Jupiter's Legacy). 

Gatiss wrote the script from Conan Doyle’s 1982 short story. Principal photography recently concluded, with filming taking place in Hertfordshire, UK. Richelle Wilder and Isibeal Ballance’s Adorable Media is producing the film, as they did with Gatiss’ previous four Christmas films since 2018.

Lot No 249 will air on BBC Two this Christmas. There is no word yet on which American producer will scoop it up to air over here.


Ani Bundel has been blogging professionally since 2010. A DC native, Hufflepuff, and Keyboard Khaleesi, she spends all her non-writing time taking pictures of her cats. Regular bylines also found on MSNBC, Paste, Primetimer, and others. 

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