Overcast

Overcast

max temp: 12°C

min temp: 9°C

Search

Unmissable: This Halloween classic still haunts me to this day

04 November, 2014 - 12:59
Sarah Greene, Michael Parkinson and Mike Smith, the 'presenting' team from 1992's Ghostwatch (Pic: BBC)

Sarah Greene, Michael Parkinson and Mike Smith, the 'presenting' team from 1992's Ghostwatch (Pic: BBC)

BBC

Not being the bravest of children, there were plenty of TV programmes that left me chilled to the bone as a youngster.

From the classic Look and Read educational series Dark Towers (only now have I learned that the terrifying Tall Knight was played by none other than Peter “Chewbacca” Mayhew – how could I have let that hero scare me so much?) to an irrational fear of the jolty vintage picture montage of Clive Dunn at the start of Grandad, I was afraid of pretty much everything.

And it seems that from a quick straw poll around the EADT offices, everybody has been affected by something they watched as a child – be it Rod Hull and Emu’s green-hued nemesis Grotbags haunting some, to spooky recollections of episodes of Dr Who, The Thunderbirds and Round the Twist.

But one programme from more than 20 years ago still haunts me to this day. And I’m not alone.

You may recall the broadcast, and the furore that followed it.

Ghostwatch. Even searching for it on the internet and reading back over the synopsis set my heart pounding.

Think that the modern nightmare of losing a child while on holiday, as depicted in new series The missing, is a horrifying prospect? How about Sarah Greene and Craig Charles investigating paranormal activities at a North London home, screened “as live” on Halloween in 1992 to millions of frightened families including this 12-year-old.

Not so long ago my brother leant me a DVD of Ghostwatch (released after the Beeb’s self-imposed 10-year repeat ban was lifted) but I still couldn’t bring myself to watch it. When it was screened for the one and only time 22 years ago it triggered 30,000 calls to the BBC switchboard following its original broadcast.

I never made it to the end – meaning I missed the moment when spooky spectre “Pipes” took over the whole programme and possessed Michael Parkinson.

I think had I made it to the end I may have realised it was actually a ground-breaking mockumentary filmed well in advance and featuring an ending that was simply to odd to be real.

However, for many years it haunted me, having convinced myself it was 100% real.

Ghostwatch was actually a film, produced as part of BBC1’s Screen One series and starring Greene, Charles, Parkinson and Mike Smith, playing themselves. They were looking into reports of a violent poltergeist who was plaguing the lives of a family. The children had dubbed the ghost “Pipes” and the show revealed he was the spirit of a child molester who had taken his own life. Seems odd that a TV show would even come up with such an idea for a Halloween broadcast, let alone actually make and screen it.

It’s the sort of thing that in more recent years shows such as Ghost Hunting with... and Most Haunted have tried to recapture but they are really just too silly to be scary.

Ghostwatch was genuinely unnerving and featuring well-known children’s TV stars Greene and Smith leant it an air of authenticity that fooled many and led to uproar in the tabloids the following day.

Until I can confront my demons and sit down for 90 minutes and endure Ghostwatch to the end, I think it will haunt me forever.

Maybe it’s time for the BBC to give Ghostwatch its first ever repeat – it would be a nice reminder of the talents of Mike Smith, who died earlier this year, and a chance for people like me to finally exorcise their demons.

Were you spooked by Ghostwatch or is there something else on the box that scared you? Let me know by emailling me at elliot.furniss@archant.co.uk or follow me on Twitter @Elliot_Furniss

0 comments

Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files
Comments

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Ipswich Star visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Ipswich Star staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Ipswich Star account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

Looking for a fun family day out in Suffolk or north Essex this weekend? We could have the answer.

The Screen Suffolk deal which aims to bring film and TV productions to the county was officially launched at an exhibition in London on Tuesday night.

Naughty elves have been holding toys captive, redecorating Christmas trees and swinging from the lampshades over the past week.

The Colchester Mercury has a well deserved reputation for staging some of the most lavish traditional pantomimes in East Anglia.

There were no dancing cups and saucers, singing clocks or candelabra hosts but who needs the Disney sparkle when you have the true magic of panto?

One of the country’s biggest music stars, Olly Murs, has been named as a headline act for the 2017 Newmarket Nights summer concert series.

Christchurch Mansion, Fore Street Swimming Pool and the Town Hall are just a handful of Ipswich’s prestigious buildings set to be opened up for filming as part of the Screen Suffolk deal under latest plans by town bosses.

Inspired snappers in Kesgrave enjoyed the summer sun and braved the wintry weather to share their stills in the latest Kesgrave Photography Competition.

For a man who reckons he drifted into advertising and public relations without knowing much about it, Bob Cattell hasn’t done badly. We’d all be pretty chuffed to have altered course slightly and ended up selling more than 250,000 children’s books, wouldn’t we?

The Ipswich Co-op Juniors certainly know how to stage a spectacle and this year’s festive extravaganza is as glitzy and glamorous – and as technically accomplished – as anything you would see on a West End stage.

Most read

Most commented

HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists

Topic pages

Streetlife

Newsletter Sign Up

MyDate24 MyPhotos24