The Amazing Mr Blunden (Cert PG, 88 mins, Sky Cinema, streaming from December 24 exclusively on Now, Fantasy/Adventure/Romance)

Starring: Simon Callow, Tamsin Greig, Mark Gatiss, Vinette Robinson, Tsion Habte, Jason Rennie, India Fowler, Xaviar Wilkins.

Recently widowed musician Christine Allen (Vinette Robinson) is desperate to find work to keep a roof over the heads of her two children, Jamie (Jason Rennie) and Lucy (Tsion Habte), when enigmatic lawyer Mr Blunden (Simon Callow) approaches the family with a proposition.

His firm will pay Christine to act as caretaker of a rundown country house, including rent-free accommodation in a cottage on the estate.

The Allens move into their lodgings and as Midsummer’s Eve beckons, the children encounter two ghostly inhabitants of the main house, Sara Latimer (India Fowler) and her brother Georgie (Xaviar Wilkins).

A gravestone confirms the spectres will perish in a fire in 1821 unless Jamie and Lucy can manipulate “the wheel of time” and outwit the siblings’ scheming guardians, Mr and Mrs Wickens (Mark Gatiss, Tamsin Greig).

Screening on Christmas Eve on Sky Max and streaming exclusively on Now, The Amazing Mr Blunden is a wholesome remake of the 1972 film of the same title adapted from Antonia Barber’s children’s fantasy novel The Ghosts.

Writer-director Gatiss applies a light touch to deathly matters and maintains a steady pace as Jamie and Lucy shepherd viewers through the rules of time travel.

Rennie and Habte are likeable modern-day heroes and Callow drizzles on the avuncular charm.

In stark contrast, Gatiss and Greig merrily chew scenery as Dickensian grotesques, who wouldn’t think twice about killing innocent tykes to get their grubby paws on a £30,000 inheritance.

The script caresses themes of grief and regret but doesn’t grasp them with sufficient force to alienate young children.