Friday, October 14, 2005

The Spectre of Entertainment

I have long believed that the BBC are the best producers of television in the world. While many independent media stations and publications often knock them I still automatically tune to News 24 or Radio 4 if there is a major breaking news story. Radio 2 contains some of the finest radio programming & presenters anywhere while Radio 1 promotes fresh new talent and sounds expertly. On TV the BBC have been responsible for many of the last decade’s most delicious shows. Recently Doctor Who, Spooks, Dick & Dom and Little Britain.

The fondest memory I have of the BBC is for making me the most scared I have ever been in my life. The other day I was walking through town where I saw a number of people wearing ‘Most Haunted Crew’ T-Shirts. I laughed at the thought of a local building appearing on this awful program. I’ve watched it a few times and I feel it is making a mockery of genuine investigation into a fascinating subject – ghosts. Derek & Yvette should be banned from coming anywhere near a camera for producing this dumb show. It is a pale imitation of possibly the greatest 90 minutes of television I’ve ever watched…

It was October 1992, I was excited as it was one of the first times I’d been left home alone. I tuned into BBC 1 for their live Ghostwatch. Michael Parkinson, Sarah Greene & Mike Smith hosted a 90-minute investigation of the most haunted house in Britain while Craig Charles provided the light relief. The studio ghost expert was, bizarrely, the head-tutor from Channel 4’s ‘Teachers’ Of course it was all a sham – an expertly produced ‘what-if’ drama that wasn’t even live. On the night I didn’t know that. I sat watching fascinated by what the university investigators had discovered at this haunted house. Central heating banging, school textbooks being defaced, a girl being scratched and a spooky voice uttering ‘Round & round the mulberry bush.’ I sat terrified as the ‘live’ broadcast descended into chaos. Banging, crashing wailing felines and Sarah Greene being trapped in a ghastly ‘glory hole’ (ahem). The image of ‘Pipes’ the spectre behind the happenings haunted me for years.

I waited petrified for my parents to return, “Mum, mum they’ve proved ghosts exist, they’re real…”

Of course it wasn’t and the BBC got into all sorts of trouble. The broadcast even being linked to the suicide of one lad who got a tad too scared! It was never to be shown again… well until it got a DVD release a few years back.

It still sticks in my mind though – I was captivated in a way that no TV show has ever emulated. I doubt it could be done today, we’re too media savvy – but I’d love to see it attempted!

More on Ghostwatch here.
..and here...

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