This British made-for-television movie aired at 10:50 pm on ITV on Wednesday 31 December 1980 (New Year’s Eve) and starred American comedy actress Elaine Stritch as brash Hollywood location scout Julia Myerson who is searching for locations in England for a horror movie.
On Christmas Eve she arrives at Glebes Hall, the remote country home of bickering upper-class couple Angela (Norma West) and Charles Antrey (Ben Aris) who have hit upon hard times and are only too pleased to let her stay in the house while they go to visit Angela’s aunt, leaving only haughty housekeeper Mrs Purvis (Stephanie Cole) for company.
But the house has a history: a young boy murdered his sister in the nursery there one Christmas Eve after she mutilated one of his pets. The maid was executed for the murder but, distraught at his crime, the boy killed himself there a few years later.
Left alone in the house, Julia finds herself locked in, hearing strange childish laughter and terrified by a pair of very creepy dolls in the nursery. For more than 20-minutes, Stritch is the only actor on screen and carries the film with just her own voice-over for company.
A last-minute twist provides a neat development that elevates Christmas Spirits beyond the run-of-the-mill ghost story.
The script was written especially for Stritch by the great Willis Hall, writer of Billy Liar (1963), A Kind of Loving (1962) and Whistle Down the Wind (1961).