Globe columnist Peter Grant asks what the Dickens is going on ... as Simon Callow appears in cinemas for one-night only with A Christmas Carol.

WORLD-famous stage and screen star and author Simon Callow is a busy man, but that didn't stop him taking time off to talk to the Wirral Globe about a love of his life ... Charles Dickens.

On Tuesday (December 11), that great respect and deep affection for the novelist will be screened for just one night in 444 cinemas across the country and that includes two cinemas in Wirral.

It is a one-off screening while he returns to the West End for his critically-acclaimed one-man stage production.

A Christmas Carol – the film is a must see reimagining of the stage production especially for the cinema.

It is performed by Simon in his own unique way and directed and designed by the well-respected Tony Cairns.

It is the ideal curtain-raiser for those who love the book and, of course its feel-good, festive message.

Simon says that Dickens was very fond of Merseyside.

Indeed, Dickens recalled the healthy trips on the Mersey Ferry and walks in New Brighton.

"He read in Liverpool many times including St George's Hall," says Simon.

I tell him there is a plaque in the Bridewell Prison in the city where Dickens worked as a special constable for one night.

He would always call in to police stations wherever he visited.

Simon says he must see it next time he is in the city.

"I do enjoy going to Merseyside. I am always made to feel very welcome there.

"I enjoyed bringing a one-man show about Shakespeare to the Playhouse."

Simon says that the concept of opera, ballet, drama beamed into cinemas is a great new move forward.

"It brings more people to the theatre who wouldn't normally go," said the Olivier award-winning star.

A Christmas Carol - at 81 minutes long - was a labour of love for Simon, despite enduring what he calls 'freezing cold location shots.'

"Dickens was a storyteller," he says in that familiar voice.

"A Christmas Carol is a ghost story, rather melancholy, too, and I feel the spirits are from within Scrooge himself.

"But it is also very funny and warm.

"It is about redemption. Scrooge is going to be redeemed even if he isn't aware of it."

Dickens would perform the inspirational novel on his sell-out world tours and became a global celebrity.

I ask Simon if he believes Dickens would have made a great chat show host in the present day?

"Oh no, dear me no, no. He would have been an ideal guest, though."

Does he think that Dickens would have accepted a knighthood?

"No. He turned down honours. He hated politicians.

"He cared about the poor with a passion to change for the better.

"He cared about society – speaking out against injustice.

"The Ghost of Christmas Present is at the core of his book - he warned us all about ignorance and want.

"His tombstone simply says 'Charles Dickens.'

"His legacy was the fact his words are still relevant. They still speak for him today.

"His Christmas Carol transcends over centuries it has never been out of print.

"A Christmas Carol was special to him.

"He chose the story to perform, not only at his first public readings in 1853, but also at his farewell performance in 1869.

"I will never tire of it.

"I always find something new in it and I suppose everyone who reads it and hopefully sees the film or stage production will rediscover its timeless message all over again."

A Christmas Carol will be screened on December 11

Check for screening times at venue

Odeon Bromborough

Light Cinema, New Brighton

Fact Liverpool and Odeon One

The stage production runs in London until January 12 at the Arts Theatre London

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