Fans of the vampire genre in general, or Dracula in particular, should definitely try to track this BBC4 documentary down. Hosted by writer and horror buff Mark Gatiss, it’s a definitive history of not just the Bram Stoker book, but the myths and legends that inspired it, the various film and stage adaptations, and Gatiss’s own TV series Dracula (co-written with Stephen Moffat) which aired last year.
The programme is clearly a repeat since it mentions that TV series as ‘coming soon’, but for some reason I missed it first time around. This time I recorded it, and watched it in a couple of sittings last week. And was utterly riveted. For some reason I’d expected it to be a bit dry and dusty but it was anything but. Gatiss was informative but lively and his own innate sense of mischief kept showing through. And the snippets about the genre were fascinating.
There was the actual book, complete with annotations, that Stoker may well have got the name ‘Dracula’ from. There was an explanation of why the character’s cloak has such a high, stiff collar (something to do with the first theatre adaptation, although I’m not going to say what). There was the first really ‘sexy’ version of the character (Christopher Lee), and even a mention of when Dracula’s fangs first appeared!
Although I wasn’t madly convinced by Gatiss and Moffat’s adaptation of Dracula (you can see my blog post from last year about it HERE), I’d heartily recommend this entertaining look at the genre to anyone. Hopefully it’s still around on BBC i-Player; if not, watch out for another repeat. Or hire your own vampire to go and chew a few necks to make it available again!