BUDDING actors from Stonyhurst College were given walk-on roles in a BBC drama created by Sherlock star Mark Gatiss.

Students from the 400-year-old Ribble Valley school will be seen in The Tractate Middoth on BBC Two when it is broadcast at Christmas.

The Stonyhurst extras were restyled and transformed by the BBC’s make-up and costume artists into young people from the 1950s, a process which took almost three hours. Mr Gatiss, who stars alongside Benedict Cumberbatch in the BBC’s Sherlock series, was shooting scenes for his directorial debut, which he also penned.

The half-hour drama is a chilling adaptation of MR James’s short story in which a search for an obscure Hebrew text provokes terrifying apparitions and a vengeful menace from beyond the grave.

The drama’s cast includes Sacha Dhawan, who has appeared in The History Boys, John Castle from I, Claudius, Louise Jameson from Doctor Who and Una Stubbs from Sherlock. They will be joined by David Ryall from The Village, Eleanor Bron, who has appeared in Absolutely Fabulous and Roy Barraclough from Coronation Street.

Second master at the school, Matthew Mostyn, said: “It is by no means the first time we have had film crews at Stonyhurst, but this was a particularly enjoyable occasion for us all.

“It was really special that so many of our pupils were able to appear as extras. They had a lot of fun and there is no doubt that they will also have learnt a great deal from the experience.”

Mr Gatiss said: “The wonderful adaptations of M R James’s tales that I saw on TV as a child have been a lasting inspiration to me.

“I'm delighted to restore the tradition of a BBC 'Ghost Story for Christmas' and bring to life a personal favourite — The Tractate Middoth — one of James’s most atmospheric, thrilling, and downright scary tales.”