SCROOGE must be one of the most unfairly maligned characters in English literature.

The Dickens creation has had to endure far more contempt than is justified over the past 150 or so years because of his reputation for stinginess with money and dislike of Christmas.

So much so, anyone of a similarly parsimonious nature who complains that this festive period is one big rip-off gets pejoratively labelled a Scrooge.

And newspaper headline writers are particularly prone to perpetuating this injustice.

To malign this great character in such a way does no service to journalism or, indeed, creative truth.

I mention this because on Saturday evening I watched A Christmas Carol on TV - the version starring that fine Yorkshire actor Patrick Stewart as Scrooge.

It is not, in my view, the best cinematic interpretation of Dickens’s story. The 1951 black and white film Scrooge starring Alistair Sim, is arguably much more haunting, if you excuse the pun.

Nonetheless, Mr Stewart’s 1985 portrayal is memorable and I was left feeling suitably uplifted by the performance.

In my view, Christmas Carol is a tale about redemption and resurrection and not a treatise on meanness.

In his formative years, Ebenezer Scrooge was a warm, gregarious and passionate young man. By the end of the story, after three lots of spectral prompting, he returns to his true nature and becomes a jolly old man.

What happens in between – his descent into a miserly existence – is an aberration.

That he was able to see the light and change for the better shows there is hope for everyone.

So, I would like us all to stop maligning the dear old chap.

Indeed, we should truly evoke the spirit of Christmas by recognising Ebenezer Scrooge as one of the most uplifting characters fiction has ever produced.

If we can’t find it in our hearts to rehabilitate him, then what chance have we got with real people who deserve forgiveness?