I had the great pleasure recently of joining my friends Rebecca, John and Dani to record an edition of their podcast I Don’t Do Sci-Fi. This time, Dani was being exposed to Nigel Kneale’s 1972 BBC Christmas Day ghost story – The Stone Tape. It is a pioneering blend of science fiction, horror, and psychological drama that has left a lasting impact on viewers and critics alike.
The story revolves around a team of scientists and technicians from Ryan Electronics who move into an old Victorian mansion called Taskerlands, which has been converted into a research facility. Their objective is to develop a new disruptive technology that surpasses anything in the existing market. However, they soon discover that Taskerlands has a dark history and an eerie presence lurking within its walls.
In a room said to be haunted, Jill, the lead computer programmer sees the ghost of a terrified Victorian maid. Soon, everyone bar one young man can hear her screams.
The team conjecture that they have uncovered a phenomenon nicknamed the “stone tape theory,” a concept suggesting that buildings can absorb and replay the energy of past events, essentially becoming a recording of the past. This notion serves as the central theme of the play, blending elements of the supernatural with scientific exploration. When the experts try to understand the process better, hoping to turn it into the next generation of consumer technology, they learn it has psychological effects too. Whilst Jill begins to fear that there may be deeper layers to the stone recording, but containing what?
It stars Jane Asher, Michael Bryant, Iain Cutherbertson and Michael Bates, and was directed by Peter Sasdy. I’d last seen it on the big screen in 2022 as part of the excellent Nigel Kneale Centenary celebration in London, organised by Jon Dear and introduced by Ms Asher herself.
I had a great time talking about my enthusiasm for this play, but what did Dani think of it? You can find out by listening to the podcast on your favourite app, or online at https://podcasters.spotify.com/pod/show/idontdoscifi/episodes/Season-1–Episode-6-The-Stone-Tape-e1u91c5 Or on YouTube.
Whilst I’m on the plugging trail, let me also mention that I am currently working on the sounds for the next Bolton Little Theatre production – The Ladykillers – which is running from 26th June and 1st July. It’ll be a funny night and you can find out more here.