For the 3rd time in recent weeks, the spotlight goes to Paul Ashford of Little Rubber Monsters.
For his return to Halloween Horrors, Paul takes focus on the 1992 made-for-BBC film, Ghostwatch. I’ll admit that I was unfamiliar with this film, so I did a little research. I found multiple articles speaking on the uproar and controversy caused by the film’s airing, but quite little on the film itself. Luckily for us, Paul included a link to the full film, which will be attached to the bottom of this post.
As for the piece you are about to read…..
This is yet another example of what I hoped we would see with this project. I knew that everyone would attack this differently. There were no wrong answers. This was an opportunity for each person to tell a different story. Sometimes, the story is nothing more than a reaction. Sometimes, it’s a memory held dear. Whatever their appearance, they are encapsulations of a moment in someone’s life transmuted into word.
Halloween Night 1992….
Picture the scene: I was 14 years old, already a big horror fan, and was at home for the night with my older sister. We were waiting for a BBC special called Ghostwatch to start. It was being advertised as a live show coming from a house in London which was supposedly haunted. I remember the idea of people investigating a real haunted house on live TV really excited me. What was I going to see? Would there really be a ghost? Would I get scared? I genuinely didn’t know. Bear in mind this was 1992… way before reality TV kicked in, and an age before Ghost Adventures, Most Haunted, and the like.
Add to the fact the show was being hosted by respected talk show host Michael Parkinson, who was set up in a TV studio with a parapsychologist, while reporting live from the house itself and the neighbourhood outside was popular kids TV presenter Sarah Greene, and Red Dwarf star Craig Charles. With all these big names involved, how could this be anything other than great?? So, the show kicked off with a little background info on the house and the family that lived there. We were introduced to a mother and her two daughters who claimed they had experienced paranormal happenings in their home over the last 10 months, along with some fuzzy video footage of what appeared to be poltergeist activity in the girls bedroom.
5 minutes in and I was already on edge. Were the BBC about to capture footage of a real poltergeist on live tTV? As a 14-year-old boy, for me it was so exciting. As the show went on, we were introduced to all of the presenters and the camera crew, along with some of the technology they would be using to try to capture something on-screen. We even got glimpses of the wary public standing outside in the street, watching the proceedings unfold. It all started very light-hearted with Sarah Greene bobbing apples with the two daughters and various humorous interactions between the reporters.
However, the show then began to take a much darker tone as we learnt about the supposed ghost and the name the girls had for it, along with the fact that viewers at home were starting to call in saying that they had seen a ghostly figure in the video footage shown at the start of the show. From this point on, both my sister and myself were hooked and were closely watching the screen ourselves for any sightings or strange goings on. And boy, did we think we saw a ghost! There were several points throughout the show that we both definitely thought we saw something, and also times that one of us saw something and the other didn’t. Of course, DVR’s and the internet didn’t exist at this tim,e so we had no way of checking what we had just seen, but what we did have were countless viewers phoning in saying they had also seen what we thought we had seen. A figure in the curtains? A reflection in the window? A face behind the door? I literally couldn’t believe what I was seeing on screen. Paranormal happenings and ghost sightings live on TV on Halloween night and it felt like we were involved ourselves looking out for the ghost in case no one else saw it.
To say what happened in the rest of the show would be a big spoiler. I implore you, if you have never heard of or seen Ghostwatch before, give it a watch. Don’t read up online about it first as there are many spoilers out there. This is the sort of programme that would never work in today’s age with all the technology we now find at our disposal, and I almost feel quite privileged that I was able to view Ghostwatch as it aired Halloween night 24 years ago….. the way it was intended to be watched.
I can imagine there are people reading this who have never heard of Ghostwatch… and for good reason too. There was uproar in the media in the days following its broadcast. Viewers were so apparently terrified that they had complained to the BBC in droves, and there were even reports of children suffering from psychological health issues after viewing it. There was, sadly, even one suicide. Suffice to say the show was banned by the BBC in light of all the controversy and has never been aired in the UK again. It would be 10 whole years until Ghostwatch was finally allowed a DVD release in 2002.
So, that’s my Halloween Horrors choice for you… purely for the fact that it was and still is the most scared I have EVER been on Halloween night. I would love to hear other people’s thoughts on this programme too, so I will include the link to watch it on YouTube… if you dare!