Review: ‘The Blue Boy’

Host: Russell Baker.

Host: Russell Baker.

Masterpiece Theatre” opens its 24th season with “The Blue Boy,” a ghost story about the death of a Scottish boy a century ago and how it connects with a contemporary man and his wife who’s pregnant. No masterpiece, Paul Murton’s teleplay still has an eerie touch that can raise neck hairs.

Based on a Scottish legend, the story involves Marie (Emma Thompson) and her husband Joe (Adrian Dunbar), who’s been having an affair with Beth (Joanna Roth). Marie decides she wants to go along on Joe’s business trip to the country inn where, without Marie’s knowing, Joe’s been taking Beth.

Christine (Eleanor Bron), who works at the hotel, tells Marie the Blue Boy legend: how the lad, walking in his sleep one night, stepped into the lake and drowned. Later, small, wet footprints appeared in the hotel, leading to the room where Joe and Marie are now staying.

Beth begins causing problems by calling Joe on his car phone until Marie catches on. The present-day tale of adultery is echoed in the secrets of the Blue Boy story.

Kate Swan’s production is a pip, and Stuart Wyld uses his camera to full advantage, swooping into and around the interior of the hotel, catching the cold atmosphere and tension between husband and wife. Murton’s moralistic story, concerning spirits reliving their tortures, has an offbeat ending that gives “Masterpiece Theatre” a rare punch.

The acting, particularly that of Thompson, is first class, with Dunbar earning high marks as the weak husband. Philip Appleby supplies a good, supportive score, and writer Murton serves well as the director of the piece.

The Blue Boy

(Sun. (2), 9-10 p.m., PBS)


Filmed on location in Argyll, Scotland, by BBC/Scotland and WGBH/Boston. Executive producers, Andrea Calderwood (BBC), Rebecca Eaton (WGBH); producer, Kate Swan; director/writer, Paul Murton.


Camera, Stuart Wyld; editor, Peter Hayes; sound, Stuart Bruce; music, Philip Appleby; production designer, Graham Rose.


Cast: Emma Thompson, Adrian Dunbar, Eleanor Bron, David Horovitch, Joanna Roth, Phyllida Law, Barry Molloy, Lewis Howden, Jim Twaddale, Carol Ann Crawford , Sandy Welch, Veronica Leer, Michael Kennedy.

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