NOEL Coward’s Blithe Spirit has already enjoyed a successful revival in latter years. As recently as 2019, the 1941 play could be attended at Bath’s Theatre Royal, courtesy of director Richard Eyre and a splendid cast, including Jennifer Saunders.

Two years on and Edward Hall’s new film switches Saunders for none other than Dame Judi Dench. Half a dozen Covid delays might have relegated this Blithe Spirit from big screens to the small - Sky Cinema launches the film on January 15 - but its star power is undiminished. Alongside the blockbusting Dame Judi, Downton Abbey’s Dan Stevens seizes the opportunity for some high farce scenery chewing in a love triangle with Isla Fisher and Leslie Mann.

Crafted by Coward on a beach in Snowdonia - and named for a line in the poetry of Percy Bysshe Shelley - Blithe Spirit tells the story of Charles Condomine (Stevens), a successful writer who gets more than he bargained for when he hires eccentric medium, Madame Arcati (Dench), to hold a séance at his house.

What Charles, something of a cynic in his own right, seeks from Arcati is little more than inspiration for the book he is struggling to write on the occult. What he gets is the shock return of his deceased first wife Elvira (Mann) from beyond the veil. Invisible to all but Charles, the ghost Elvira nonetheless still makes her presence felt.

There’s an early effervescence to Hall’s film adaptation that can’t quite make the credits. His script is the work of Nick Moorcroft, Meg Leonard and Piers Ashworth, the former of which gave the world Fisherman’s Friends and Finding Your Feet. Two very quaint offerings indeed. As such, what Hall’s adaptation gains in whimsy, it loses in edge and razor sharp wit. And this for a play Coward once wrote himself: ‘disdaining archness and false modesty, I will admit that I knew it was witty, I knew it was well constructed, and I also knew that it would be a success’.

Let’s not forget, of course, that Blithe Spirit has already enjoyed its most notable screen adaptation.

That film was the work of its own creator and David Lean no less. Coward deemed it a disappointment in 1945. The pity being that one suspects he’d hardly rate its successor, 75 years later, in any higher regard. At least the cast had fun.