Wolf Sees Ghosts: The Eagerly Un-Awaited Return Of Most Haunted

mh07

I should’ve posted this over a month ago but I got ‘sidetracked’. Slightly out of date, I suppose, but never mind. It’s a piece about the resurrection of the cowardly TV paranormal investigation team, Most Haunted

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For those of you unfamiliar with the classic Most Haunted format I shall enlighten; a team of ‘paranormal investigators’ led by ex-Blue Peter presenter Yvette Fielding go to a purportedly real haunted location and spend the night. They were usually accompanied by a medium, a historian and a parapsychologist. For 10 minutes the audience was treated to a history of the location. Then for a further 10 minutes the medium, from whom the location has been kept secret (yeh, right…), will attempt to ‘sense’ any spirits present and spunk forth precise information which is then analysed for accuracy by the historian. Then they turn the lights off. For another 5 minutes the medium continues, this time in night-vision. For the remaining 20 minutes, various members of the team go off around the location either in groups, or singly. These are called ‘vigils’ but if your name is Stuart Torevell (cameraman/rigger & cousin of Yvette) it is called a “vij-u-ull”. They may try a séance, some table-tipping or a Ouija-type thing with a glass tumbler. They might hear bumps, grunts, raps, growls, knocks, moans or perhaps see an ‘orb’. They will not be able to corroborate any of it.

Yep, there's more chance of 'em contacting a half-digested cupcake than a ghost...

Yep, there’s more chance of ’em contacting a half-digested cupcake than a ghost…

I stopped watching episodes of Most Haunted probably when they were into Season 7 (I’d watch ‘em at work via YouTube during lunch). I stopped watching because they weren’t even trying to find a ghost anymore (given it’s arguable they ever were). In fact they had pretty much quashed that idea by S3 and had settled comfortably into lengthy and loud bouts of amateur histrionics. By this time, it was brazenly obvious that certain members of the crew (Stuart-cough-Torevell-cough) weren’t being entirely honest; some, for instance, would take advantage of the dark and should the team react to an involuntary sigh clearly emanating from the land of the living, the opportunistic sigh-ee (Yvette-cough-Fielding-cough) would quickly go along with the ensuing excitement. Shame, really. I genuinely believe they were making an effort, circa S1 & S2. There’s no doubt in my mind that Beattie & Fielding thought ‘we can have some fun with this and hey, who knows, maybe we’ll catch something on film into the bargain…’

They got the idea for Most Haunted from an episode of the BBC’s Playhouse season, Ghostwatch, a moderately effective 1992 drama cunningly dressed up as a ‘live’ investigation of an urban haunted house. It caused a right parental furore; distressed poppets the length and breadth of the country allowed to stay up and watch their Children’s TV heroes Mike Smith and Sarah Greene unexpectedly become demonically compromised. I’m scratching my head as to how anyone thought Ghostwatch was anything but a fiction – probably the same people who believe an out-of-focus winged insect is an ‘orb’ if Yvette tells them it is. Interestingly, Stockport lass Fielding (IMDB lists her as an actress) was approached to play the role subsequently given to Greene but was advised it might be a retrograde step in her burgeoning career. Yet here she is, full circle.

"Ivvy, I keep hearing, in my head, the words 'I hate you! I hate you! I'm so jealous!'..."

“Ivvy, I keep hearing, in my head, the words ‘I hate you! I hate you! I’m so jealous!’…”

Basically, they got found out and there were a few disgruntled viewer complaints aimed in Ofcom’s direction. Ofcom eventually ruled that Most Haunted was for ‘entertainment purposes only’ while the show’s creators, Yvette Fielding & Karl Beattie still contest that the programme is a serious investigation of the paranormal, a statement that is patently ludicrous. A serious investigation, for example, when told of several eye-witness accounts of a particular door that regularly opens/ closes, would then set up static cameras covering the door in its entirety inside and out in an effort to debunk this phenomenon. The fact that Most Haunted does not is, in my opinion, telling. Likewise, if your resident medium ‘contacts’ the spirit of a little girl, ‘no more than 5, I should think, Ivvy…’ and they ask her for a sign that she is present, I wouldn’t expect, after a sturdy thump on the floor/ wall, either one or all of the serious investigative team present to comment expertly along the lines of ‘cock fucking shit bastard!’ Again, in my opinion, it’s an inappropriate way to greet a 5 year-old, irrespective of her current earthly status.

Would you buy a used Ouija off these characters?

Would you buy a used Ouija off these characters?

And then it all went south – and I don’t mean Birmingham, I mean way down south, dig. It started in Season 6; his name is Derek Acorah, psychic medium. By all accounts Derek is a nice bloke and he was a large part of the reason so many folk (including me) tuned in. You see, Deggsy was entertaining, him and his invisible Ethiopian spirit guide, Sam. His shenanigans were preferable to witnessing a bunch of grown adults screaming profanity at the slightest supernatural fart and giving us the ‘terrified’ night-vision up the nose selfies. I mean, Derek got possessed to order. But his crowning achievement had to be – “Mary loves Dick! Mary loves Dick! She’s got this great love for Dick…” By S6, though, it seemed he was being undermined as Karl & Yvette brought in another medium (cuddly David Wells) to shadow him. Maybe Deggsy felt threatened and thought he needed an edge to keep himself in the limelight. Enter cuddly Ciaran O’Keeffe & The Acorah Incident™.

Oh, twas devious… Parasychologist O’Keeffe, who joined the team properly for Season 5, wasn’t convinced Deggsy was blessed with a piercing cryptesthesia. So it goes, under orders from Karl Beattie, O’Keeffe ripened the story of a false ghostly presence, left the juicy info for Acorah to find and then, as the cameras rolled, stood back to watch Deggsy get possessed by an angry South African named ‘Kreed Kafer’ (an anagram of ‘Derek Faker’). Just to be sure, O’Keeffe did it again, Acorah this time sensing the spirit of a departed highwayman, ‘Rik Eedles’ (‘Derek Lies’). Both shows aired. In another location, O’Keeffe spun more cobblers, a back story concerning Richard The Lionheart, a witch and Richard’s ghost seen walking into a wardrobe (think about it…). Derek duly used the lot. So out went Deggsy – ‘to preserve the integrity of the show’. Stop that laughing at the back!

The Heebie-Bee Gees

The Heebie-Bee Gees

At this point it gets kinda messy; Acorah delivered Most Haunted to the top of Living TV’s viewing figures, surely all that Beattie & Fielding had ever desired – a hit show. Why cut the legs from under it? Was it a jealous reaction to his popularity? After all this was their show and Fielding was supposed to be the star. It was also no secret that Acorah wanted his own show (I believe he had grown tired of Beattie & Fielding’s control freakery), a show that might possibly steal their thunder and it was therefore a coincidence, I’m sure, when O’Keeffe went to the Daily Mirror with the ‘Kreed Kafer’ story just before Derek Acorah’s Ghost Towns debuted. Hilariously, the Mirror twisted O’Keeffe’s words into an attack on Most Haunted in general causing much consternation at the offices of Living TV.

I wouldn’t be surprised if the whole sordid panto was a question of ‘discredit Derek before he discredits us’. He certainly did discredit them, judging by an interview he gave to White Noise Radio. I say ‘judging by’, etc, but I haven’t heard it; Antix (Beattie’s production company) sent the lawyers after WNR, the interview got yoinked and just about anybody else with a copy of it got a chasing. Acorah, too, was threatened with legal action unless he offered a retraction and his retort was ‘see you in court’. It was Antix who backed down. From what I gather, his wasn’t simply a ‘Most Haunted is faked’ takedown, he spoke of bullying and physical violence directed against crew members, pretty serious stuff. I’d love to hear the interview… Anyway, viewing figures fell and though it limped along for a few more seasons, Most Haunted inevitably got the hook.

"Never mind the ghost - on me, on me!"

“Never mind the ghost – on me, on me!”

All of which brings us round to now. The first episode of the new series… erm… wasn’t. I understand it was an ‘on-line only special’ but I didn’t know that until a few days ago, thanks to Wiki. Verdict: horrifically bad. Here was a programme made by a bunch of idiots who know it’s all bollocks and know that every sane person on the planet knows it’s all bollocks. If I hadn’t known any better, I would’ve thought I’d tuned into an unfunny Most Haunted parody. This is for the kind of people who believe everything they are told and everything they are told to see. There used to be structure, an on-screen map to tell you where everybody was in the location which at least suggested an element of control. Here (in a theatre in Bacup, Lancashire), there was pandemonium, people talking all at once, a babbling cameraman just asking for a smack in the chops and random, nonsensical rushing around. Rolls of tape moved. Rolls of tape got thrown. Did anyone lock a camera on a roll of tape? No they did not. I thought I heard the babbling cameraman babble something about a locked camera and a roll of tape but it was confusing and I didn’t see any footage. The night vision was minimal; they were using torches and other available light sources. They laughed a lot and joked with each other. The episode concluded as the early seasons used to, with a sceptic, a Dr. John Callow this time in a studio somewhere reviewing the phenomena. The bloke spoke haltingly and without emotion. He was also reading from a prompt.

"I'm sensing... I'm sensing many viewers changing the channel..."

“I’m sensing… I’m sensing many viewers changing the channel…”

Episode 1 proper (Newton House, in Wales I think) didn’t differ significantly in style or personnel from the on-line show. It’s a different crew apart from Yvette, Karl and Stuart, and then there’s demonologist Fred Batt who featured in a couple of early episodes as a hauntee and then joined the team in later seasons. The parapsychologist, medium and historian are gone and with them, any faint sense of legitimacy. Here, we had guest ‘investigators’, rock band Bullet For My Valentine with whom I am not familiar musically. In answer to allegations levelled at the crew over chucking objects around in the dark (Stu’s not known as ‘Pebbles’ for nothing), they spend a large amount of time chucking stuff with the lights on instead. It isn’t any more convincing. Likewise, the supernatural knocking sounds are so incessant they are rendered invalid. There was a very funny moment when Torevell ‘fainted’ and then doesn’t seem to know what he’s doing on the floor. The same way you normally end up on the floor, pal.

Fred Batt tried his best to inject some dark gravitas into proceedings; futile, it’s barely worth him being there and at times he appeared miffed by the rock band’s excited burbling. There was an embarrassing moment when he tried to impress on everyone that there was nothing but pure evil present and they must be careful who they call out to, but everyone just kept going ‘blah-blah-blah… did you say something, Fred… blah-blah-blah…’ The Ouija came out; a glass got pushed around. ‘Whistling’ Beattie and the now thankfully recovered ‘Pebbles’ Torevell went off separately to do a lone “vij-u-ull” (presumably to get some screen time); both got inexplicably locked into their location and both got inexplicably unlocked in again. Beattie did his famous, ‘I can’t take anymore of this, I’m getting out of here…’ with the night-vision up his nose. Dr. John Callow was even more pod-like than previously seen; he was reading the prompt so carefully I expected him to lean forward, squinting and fumble on a pair of specs.

"Smell my finger, Ivvy... I've just stuck it up a poltergeistal's arse..."

“Smell my finger, Ivvy… I’ve just stuck it up a poltergeistal’s arse…”

Shows like Most Haunted are the natural progression of a Victorian séance. It’s almost ‘Revenge Of The Victorian Séance’. It passed out of darkened parlours and into sumptuous theatres, but then in the comfort of your own home, the flickering eye of the television screen arrived and killed the ectoplasmic psychics off. Most Haunted delivers Victorian parlour tricks directly into your living room to hoodwink the gullible and the grieving once again. Yvette once said she wanted to bring us proof of an afterlife. She won’t find any afterlife hiding in Torevell’s pockets or tooting between Beattie’s puckered lips or secreted within the greenly-lit nasal cavities of various members of the crew. In fact, after 16 series and a welter of ‘live’ spin offs, I doubt she ever will.

R.I.P. Most Haunted. Expect Deggsy to be in touch soon.

 

Mary Loves Dick: http://tinyurl.com/mhbc2tt

 

Cheers, folk.

ThereWolf, November 2014

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About ThereWolf

I only come out at night... mostly...

31 responses to “Wolf Sees Ghosts: The Eagerly Un-Awaited Return Of Most Haunted”

  1. Continentalop says :

    I just read Hell House, so now I have a strong desire to see these charlatans investigate Belasco House (if it really existed).

    • ThereWolf says :

      Yeh, I’d love that – or a Grave Encounters scenario…

      Or just put the news on one night and there’s something like ‘A number of the Most Haunted team were found dead and the rest driven insane last night when an investigation into a reportedly haunted dungeon went horribly wrong. Police have issued a photo-fit of the headless male apparition thought to be responsible…’

      • Continentalop says :

        That actually wouldn’t be a bad idea for a mockumentary/found footage movie (as much as I hate those).

        Didn’t you write a short story about a charlatan/tv fraud who comes to a bad end, or am I thinking of another CoCer?

      • ThereWolf says :

        Yeh, I did – good memory! ‘Messages’, about a fake psychic medium… I really don’t like mediums. How can they claim to have such an amazing gift and then charge people for it. Reprehensible.

  2. tombando says :

    You gotta see Mountain Monsters, they combine Duck Dynasty with Bigfoot Hunters, they are always out to bag a Bigfoot/lizard man/giant cat in the Appalachian Mtns. Always get ifone -obviously fake rubbery brief cgi-footage of the quarry by some local goober, near misses each night, try to bag the beast in some Acme deadfall, but narrowly miss. And of course the pack of cameramen never get the monster in their sights, but the redneck hunters see it running away thru the dark mtn woods no trouble. Its bogus, cooky cutter plotted and trotted out as real. But so obviously Not. Xiphos would like this .

    • kloipy says :

      Oh I’ve seen Mountain Monsters. It is hilarious. My favorite thing is watching them stumble through the woods at night, all with loaded guns. Just waiting until one of them blows Huckleberry’s head off. Yes there is a guy named Huckleberry on the show

      • tombando says :

        Yes he’s about the Size of HAROLD sans wheelchair/jetski. I’m amazed. A guy that sized doing any of the mtns they supposedly are on…no way. Cardiac in 10 mins.

        Did you see the infamous Lizard Man episode? Keep waiting for footage of the Giant Robot Lion(s) myself. THEN you’ll see authenticity staring you in the face yessir.

      • kloipy says :

        I don’t think I saw that Lizard Man one. But I watch it any time it is on. Like these backwoods hillbillies are going to find, catch, or kill a monster

      • ThereWolf says :

        I’ll have to youtube this, sounds ludicrous…

      • kloipy says :

        It fucking ridiculous man

      • ThereWolf says :

        Yeh, they all seem quite sensible. I’d definiely entrust them to capture a headless mountain monster…

      • kloipy says :

        and mostly waving firearms around in pitch black while falling over themselves in the woods

      • ThereWolf says :

        Hey, it’s a dirty job but someone’s gotta do it – can’t have headless mountain monsters roaming the countryside headless…

      • kloipy says :

        or giant grass men, grassing around

      • ThereWolf says :

        Not just any old giant grassmen either… giant grassmen who literally make you pee yourself in fear. They don’t even have to be headless – pee meet trousers, how d’yer do.

      • tombando says :

        The sheepsquatch ep is a hoot, it supposedly headbutts their ubitiquos side by side headon, proof being a round hole in the windshield not the dashcam……

      • Echo the Bunnyman says :

        wait, what’s a sheepsquatch?
        I’ve seen a few eps of this. There was one involving a ‘fire dragon’ that goes around trying to suck up the heat of the sun, and their video footage had an obviously SYFY-level CGI dragon creature slinking through the underbrush.

      • ThereWolf says :

        Tell you what, you don’t want to get sheepsquatch piss on yer face either; it burns yer eyes out and makes you shout ‘Hyuh!’ repeatedly.

  3. Jarv says :

    People fell for Ghostwatch because it wasn’t staged as a drama at all- and they also “cast” newsreaders in the main speaking roles- so people were used to just seeing them reporting on “facts”. Admittedly, the last third should have been a dead giveaway that it was fictitious.

    Was decent-ish Ghostwatch

    Hilarious stuff, Wolf. What an act of utter bastardry “outing” the fake medium in the name of credibility. They deserve failure.

    • ThereWolf says :

      By all accounts Ghostwatch was advertised all week as a live investigation so the hype did the job. But when I sat down to watch it, right at the start – can’t recall this clearly now, I admit – it either stated ‘BBC Playhouse’ on screen or the announcer said it. Coz I do remember immediately pointing that out, saying something like ‘what’s this doing on Playhouse? This won’t be real…’ And again, at the end there was another ‘Playhouse’ logo.

      Parky was good, Greene was good and Charles was himself. However, Mike Smith looked awkward throughout, the haunted family didn’t feel natural and likewise the ‘expert’ Parky was talking to.

      Fun to watch, though.

      • Jarv says :

        I was only a nipper when I saw it, so can’t say, but it definitely passed itself off as real for a good while. My parents fell for it hook, line and sinker and it was only when “Mr Pipes” started appearing that they twigged. The end of it was rubbish though- “YOU’VE TURNED THIS STUDIO INTO A GIANT SEANCE”… “Meow”.

      • ThereWolf says :

        I’ve spoken to a mate of mine and he reckons I’ve misremembered it; he says there was nothing about Playhouse at the beginning or the end. He said after 10 mins I was going ‘this ain’t real’ & I picked up a Radio Times & saw a reference to something that suggested it wasn’t real – can’t recall what it was. I’ve always thought the Playhouse logo came up at the end of Ghostwatch but I’ll hold my hands up to a shonky memory on this one.

        Whoever came up with Pipes is a genius – that was unsettling…

      • Echo the Bunnyman says :

        Yea, it was a bit unsettling, what with the late story about the guy who died and the cats ate his face. Also, that possession bit in front of the camera–again doing what the PA movies and their rip-offs would try countless times close to two decades later.

        I wonder though, if this wasn’t inspired by a short story I remember reading back in the late 80s, about a tv host who goes into a supposedly haunted house and tries to stir up the audience’s imagination, and the sheer psychic power–or whatever–of everyone imagining it, brings this thing to life in the house. Seems that’s essentially what they were going for here.

  4. Echo the Bunnyman says :

    So, I just watched Ghostwatch after it was mentioned in here. I had never heard of it before, but having seen it, I’m surprised it wasn’t brought up more when Paranormal Activity was released. I suppose because it was a British program, it’s not as familiar here in the states? That set-up in the girl’s bedroom is pretty much directly recreated in the third Paranormal Activity movie, and the cameras watching the signs left by an unseen boogeyman. If anything, PA took the idea and made it less effective.

    Obviously, that sort of modern ‘War of the Worlds’ Halloween trick is far and away from the bollocks that I’m guessing Most Haunted is. Actually, I think that’s probably one of the more effective ‘found footage’ style undertakings I’ve seen, and it beat the lot of them by seven years. The ‘hautned studio’ shenanigans toward the end aren’t believable, but the set-up and progression of the show was compelling, and the centerpiece is between the skeptics and believers, instead of booga-booga jumping things.

    I do agree with There. If anyone was still believing this, or at least not questioning it, after the 30 minute mark, then they were likely desperate to believe. I will confirm, at least on the recording I saw–and it looked like a broadcast taping or something–that there was no Playhouse intro or closeout, but the final credits did have an actor credited as ‘The Ghost’, so there was that, but this was well after the show was over.

    • tombando says :

      Sheepsquatch is a bigfoot w/ a bighorn sheep’s head. Their footage ‘shows’ it standing behind a pile of logs, and of course, there are (obviously man-made) gashes in the bark etc. shown to ‘prove’ it was really there doing that.

      Plus I like their tracks-obvious Bugs Bunny level stamped out perfectly made prints in the dirt etc. Being raised on a farm I’m familiar w/ seeing what it looks like when a 100 sheep stampeded to and fro the barn into the muck etc. Their prints are NOT cleanly made no matter how you slice it.

      You can always ask our friend from Almeda for proof, however.

    • ThereWolf says :

      Echo, total memory meltdown, mate – I hold my hands up. For years I’ve argued that ‘Playhouse’ came up at the bottom of the screen with a bunch of Roman numerals after the credits. Clearly it did not!

      My mate said the Radio Times stated something about ‘drama’ in relation to Ghostwatch and he also said before the show began the announcer made some odd comment that made us all sort of frown and say, ‘Is this not real then?’

      Certainly by the 30-minute mark we were in on the ruse; yet some folk went through the whole show thinking it was real and apparently even the credit roll didn’t tip them off! The BBC got a bollocking for ‘encouraging’ children to stay up and watch this thing, but I’m fairly sure, in that first 30 mins, the audience is twice told to pack their kids off to bed. So if parents didn’t take the hint it’s their own fault.

      I think it’s safe to say that Ghostwatch has ‘inspired’ the makers of quite a few of those ‘found footage’ movies…

  5. Xiphos0311 says :

    I do not understand how anybody can buy into these sort of shows, they are all so badly faked. I guess the chumps are all Fox Mulder’s they WANT to believe

    • Jarv says :

      Ghost watch was well staged. The first 40 minutes repeatedly made the family outto be cranks and the “experts” frauds.

      It then got bloody silly but it started out as a “proving ghosts don’t exist” lark. Actual newsreaders and whatnot lent additional credibility.

      It really was well done

    • Echo the Bunnyman says :

      I’m guessing it is that desire to so badly want this stuff to be true, but you would think, even so, that these Ghost Hunter style shenanigans still wouldn’t be quite enough.

      Ghostwatch was different in the fact it wasn’t actually trying to pass itself off as real in the long run–meaning, it did nothing to tell you it wasn’t real, but it was employing real newscasters to add something realistic to what was obviously, at the end of the evening, a fictional ghost story. It was the telly version of the Mercury Theater War of the Worlds radio program. Just a fun little thing for Halloween.

      I’ve got no time for these Most Haunted and fake medium nonsense. Mountain Monsters, on the other hand, is just a dim-witted hoot.

    • ThereWolf says :

      I dunno, Xi – suppose folk want to know if there’s something after this. Don’t think you’re meant to know, not until you’re on yer death bed and if there’s nowt more you’re not gonna be worried about it coz you’ll be dead. It’s not like you’ll be lying there dead & thinking ‘shit, there’s no more…’

      The question is why a certain section of people think a panicky screaming swearing bunch of dolts who RUN AWAY from the thing they’re supposed to be investigating will provide them with an answer.

      With Ghostwatch, I think even the makers of the programme were astounded some viewers still thought it was real even when the credits rolled. Had it been real, I’m sure the show would’ve got yoinked off air long before Pipes got physical.

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