Doctor Who’s Bill Potts herself, Pearl Mackie, stars in The Conception of Terror: Tales Inspired by M.R. James, exclusive from Amazon

Former Doctor Who star Pearl Mackie, who played the Twelfth Doctor’s companion Bill Potts, is one of the stars of a new collection exclusive to Amazon Audible. The Conception of Terror: Tales Inspired by M.R. James adapted from four of the master of creeping horror’s best-loved tales.

Mackie takes the lead role of teacher Mika Chantry in the collection’s new version of The Treasure of Abbot Thomas. M.R. James’ original tale, told by the academic Somerton as he along with his manservant, follows clues to hidden treasure. But the journey reveals a horror beyond description. The famous 1974 television adaptation tweaked the formula and this new version by Big Finish regular Jonathan Barnes provides its own modern variation. Mackie’s Chantry teams up with former student Greg Parsbury (Robert Bathurst) to decode the treasure hunt clues. But what are the messages from the recently deceased teacher Abbot-Thomas leading them to?

The other stories included in the set also including Doctor Who alumni. Casting the Runes, adapted by Stephen Gallagher (writer of Warriors’ Gate and Terminus), stars Anna Maxwell-Martin (The Long Game) as well as Reece Shearsmith (Sleep No More). Meanwhile Doctor Who novelists AK Benedict and Mark Morris adapt Lost Hearts and A View from a Hill respectively.

The Conception of Terror is only available from Amazon’s Audible subscription service. Audible costs £7.99 a month, but you can take a thirty-day free trial of the service.

The Cover to The Conception of Terror, four new adaptations of classic M.R. James tales (c) Amazon
The Cover to The Conception of Terror, four new adaptations of classic M.R. James tales (c) Amazon

The Conception of Terror

A collection of four ghostly tales inspired by M. R. James.

Casting the Runes.

Adapted by Stephen Gallagher. When academic Jo Harrington (Anna Maxwell Martin) is sent a paper – The Truth of Alchemy, by Anton Karswell – for peer review, she pulls no punches. It has no place in a serious academic publication, and Karswell is a half-bright fool. However, when the editor writes a rejection note to Karswell, he inadvertently includes her entire email. Occultist Karswell (Reece Shearsmith) doesn’t take kindly to criticism.

On the tube home with her partner Edward Dunning (Tom Burke), Jo spots a poster with her name on it. It reads: ‘In memory of Joanne Harrington, M.Litt, PhD, died September eighteenth, three days were allowed.’ Is there anything that Edward can do to save Jo from this curse? 

Lost Hearts

Adapted by A. K. Benedict. Teenager Stephanie Elliot (Rosa Coduri) is taken to Aswarby House to be fostered by Mrs Bunch (Susan Jameson). Stephanie strikes up a friendship with Ben (Bill Milner), the adopted son of charismatic community leader Mr Abney (Jeff Rawle). He tells her that Mr Abney is a good man: he even took in a child refugee last year, but she ran away and stole from him. Stephanie is troubled by voices and visions of a dead girl clutching at her chest, and when Ben disappears she begins to suspect that all is not right in Aswarby House.

The Treasure of Abbot-Thomas

Adapted by Jonathan Barnes. When former Somerton school pupil Greg Parsbury (Robert Bathurst) meets history teacher Mika Chantry (Pearl Mackie) at a memorial service for schoolmaster Sam Abbot-Thomas, he begs for her help. He has been sent a postcard by the estate of the mysterious and charismatic Abbot-Thomas. On it is a strange inscription in Latin, which he believes to be an inaugural clue in a treasure hunt: much like the elaborate treasure hunts Abbot-Thomas used to set back in the 1970s. There were rumours that Abbot-Thomas possessed a hidden fortune, and Parsbury and Chantry set out to find it.

A View from a Hill

Adapted by Mark Morris. Comedian and podcaster Paul Fanshawe (Andy Nyman) and his wife, Sarah (Alice Lowe), visit the Cotswolds on holiday, trying to rebuild their lives after the death of their young son, Archie. Whilst out walking they spot a beautiful abbey across the valley on Gallows Hill, but when they reach it, they find the building is little more than rubble. While Sarah explores, Paul records commentary for his podcast. Sarah thinks she hears children’s laughter, but there’s no-one there. Later that night she listens back to the recording and hears a child’s voice whisper, ‘Mummy.’ Sarah is convinced that Archie is trying to reach them and wants to return to the ruins. But something far worse is waiting for them on Gallows Hill.




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