Tales of Mystery (1961 series)

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The last traces of Tales of Mystery (1961 series), including photos of John Laurie portraying author Algernon Blackwood....

Tales of Mystery (1961), AKA Tales of Mystery by Algernon Blackwood


Supernatural drama anthology series adapted from the strange short stories of Algernon Blackwood (an important influence on the work of H.P. Lovecraft); presumed lost with no remaining episodes.


  • Release Date: 1961-1963
  • Country/Language: UK, English
  • Genres/Technical: Horror, Thriller, Anthology, black-and-white
  • Runtime: (generally formatted for a 30-minute commercial television slot)
  • Starring: (various), hosted by John Laurie as writer Algernon Blackwood
  • Director: (various)
  • Writer: Algernon Blackwood
  • Producer/Production Co: Associated-Rediffusion Television


MPAA Ratings

  • Rated: (not rated) (perhaps equivalent of a G or PG for mild Violence)

Tentacle Ratings

A rough measure of how "Lovecraftian" the work is:

  • S____ (One Tentacle: Debateably Lovecraftian; has almost no direct connection to Lovecraft's work)

Based on the short ghost stories of Algernon Blackwood, who can be counted among Lovecraft's many influences.

Note: This rating is not intended as a measure of quality, merely of how closely related to Lovecraftian "Weird" fiction the work is.


Review Links:

  • Alan Scovell at Celluloid Wicker Man, (link) - "Out of all of the archive television currently missing, presumed destroyed, I think the most exciting and saddening loss is a little-advertised series called Tales of Mystery...."
  • peedeel, (link) - "Creepy, dour, John Laurie (as Algernon Blackwood) introduced the show each week. The shrill shriek of an owl, then Laurie half in shadow, speaking softly, confidentially to each and every one of us. Wednesday night’s Tales of Mystery materialised on our TV screen. Laurie would roll the whites of his eyes, glancing to right then to left, and you would feel yourself isolated and strangely at risk as this sinister show began...."


Supernatural drama series adapted from the short stories of Algernon Blackwood.


Comments, Trivia, Dedication

  • Suffering the fate of many classic British genre shows from before 1978, episodes of this series were lost in the 1970s due to the BBC's short-sighted practice at the time of erasing and re-using tapes, and apparently none of them remain.

Associated Mythos Elements

  • TO DO
  • fiction: Algernon Blackwood's stories...
    • "The Terror of the Twins" - Two young men are scorned by their father in life, and seek the help of a Priest for fear that they are to be equally scorned in death.
    • "The Promise" - A student is visited by a friend not seen for some years. The friend looks close to starvation, and Marriott feeds him and lets him sleep. But all is not as it seems, and an old promise will come back to haunt poor Marriott. ("Keeping His Promise", in which an old agreement between two old friends, in effort to prove the existence of the supernatural, is realised in terrible circumstances?)
    • "The Man Who Was Milligan" - A young man believes a mysterious Chinese picture of a boat with its solitary occupant on his wall has come to life when it seems to move in the darkness and a second occupant appears....
    • "The Tradition" - A family tradition holds that a phantom horse will come for family members who are about to die; the sound of hooves can be heard as the family's son lay wracked with fever, but the boy unexpectedly recovers....
    • "The Empty Sleeve" - A story about a sorcerer obsessed with a rare violin, who transforms into a cat only for the violin's owner to cut off his paw; hes empty sleeve is discovered the next morning....
    • "Accessory Before The Fact" - A man has a strange premonition about meeting two German tramps who may not be quite what they seem...
    • "The Woman's Ghost Story" - A spirit is set free from its prison by a woman's love.
    • "Decoy" - A tale of ghostly retribution....
    • "Confession" - A wounded soldier returns home, walking through a thick fog, where he meets a dead comrade, and then a young woman, whom he offers to escort safely home....
    • "Chinese Magic" - An tormented "Eastern soul in a barbarian body" consults with a friend about Chinese magic after inhaling "The Perfume of the Garden of Happiness".
    • "Max Hensig" - A suspense tale of the non-supernatural variety in which a reporter is pursued by the murderer he wrote about.
    • "The Man Who Found Out" - A researcher goes on an expedition to find "The Tablets of the Gods" which have plagued his dreams since his boyhood. He finds them, and the horrible truth of humanity's true purpose in the universe.
    • "Nephele" - A ghost story about a dancer....
    • "Ancient Sorceries" - A village in a Cathedral town in France, with an above average population of cats, turns out to have in its midst a number of dabblers in the dark arts.
    • "Deferred Appointment" - A photographer is visited by a very sickly looking man... Deathly sick.
    • "The Pikerstaffe Case" - ?
    • "The Telephone" - ("You May Telephone From Here", in which a telephone call has supernatural implications?)
    • "The Call" - ("You May Telephone From Here", in which a telephone call has supernatural implications?)
    • "Wolves of God" - A man is haunted by the barking of a pack of wolves held sacred by a native tribe.
    • "Old Clothes" - The reincarnation in a young girl of a woman whose lover met a terrible fate. Blackwood was an ardent believer in reincarnation and the tale is a heart-warming dramatisation of his own beliefs.
    • "The Doll" - The gift of a doll to a little girl is actually a malignant supernatural entity that has macabre designs upon her Father. One of the few of Blackwood's tales to feature a female protagonist, in this case a Governess.
    • "Egyptian Sorcery" - A family is haunted by a ghostly image in a mirror in this tale of possession.
    • "The Damned" - A subtle tale of dread in a haunted house; a highly original haunted house tale in which the haunting results from the intolerant religious beliefs of a series of previous residents.
    • "The Second Generation" - A man returning home to visit his wife encounters the supernatural.
    • "A Case of Eavesdropping" - A man residing in a New York apartment hears conversations from the room next door that turn out to be supernatural in origin. Based on Blackwood's time living in New York.
    • "Petershin And Mr. Snide" - ?
    • "The Lodger" - ("Smith: An Episode in a Lodging House", about a man's neighbour in an apartment appears to be dabbling in the black arts?)
    • "The Insanity of Jones" - A tale of revenge in the present, for the wrong's done in a past life. Or is Jones completely out of his mind?
    • "Dream Cottage" - ("Dream Trespass", in which a house appears to be the site of a reincarnation?)

Keeper Notes