From sticky-back plastic, to spooks!

MOST Haunted returns for its 100th spook-ridden episode on LIVINGtv today and presenter Yvette Fielding is in a reflective mood. By Graham Kibble-White.

MOST Haunted returns for its 100th spook-ridden episode on LIVINGtv today and presenter Yvette Fielding is in a reflective mood. By Graham Kibble-White.

"It's a very peculiar business to be in, you know," she said, referring to her role as the host of Most Haunted. "And actually, for the first time ever, I questioned what I was doing the other night during an investigation.

"I actually looked into camera and said, ''I've just had a reality check, what the hell are we doing this for?' My knees had buckled and a little bit of wee-wee had come away. I was so frightened I can't tell you. I was terrified."

Well, she's getting me anxious now, not least for the state of her undergarments. "I'm a good advert for incontinence products," she said with a laugh.


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The last four years have certainly been eventful for the 37-year-old former Blue Peter presenter.

Back in 2002, she and her cameraman husband, Karl Beattie, came up with an idea for an investigative programme that would follow a group of people ghost hunting at some of Britain's spookiest locations.

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The concept sprang from two sources. Firstly the couple had enjoyed being frightened by the film The Blair Witch Project. Then, one of their friends told them about a haunted location he'd stayed at on holiday, Michelham Priory in East Sussex.

"Karl and I sat up till five o'clock in the morning," she remembered, "saying, 'There's something in this. We know enough people between us to just get a pilot going, we've got a location to film in. Surely to God we can sell this'."

Putting their life savings into creating a pilot, they proceeded on a lengthy and fruitless traipse around various television channels, trying to sell the new show.

"Everyone just said, 'Ghost programmes don't work. It's a great pilot but it'll never work'."

"We were really up against it," added Yvette. "We'd ploughed all our money into it. I remember when it came round to meeting the mortgage repayments it was just, 'Oh Jesus Christ we've got nothing left'. At one point we were in tears going, 'What are we going to do?'"

Understandably, they began to lose faith in their concept.

"We thought, 'We're wrong. Our judgement is so wrong. Maybe we don't know television'."

And then a friend of the couple showed the programme to a commissioner at LIVINGtv, who immediately saw its potential.

Yvette can vividly recall where she was when she learned the show was going ahead.

"I remember playing stickle bricks and mopping up baby sick," she says, "and I got the phone call. I cried, and couldn't stop screaming. We'd actually got a commission and they wanted 16 programmes. I couldn't believe it."

It's a sentiment that still rings out today when I ask her how she feels about the fact Most Haunted will clock up its 100th episode today

"It's unbelievable, isn't it? I never ever thought we'd still be going," she smiles.

She says the show's been able to tap into a growing interest in the supernatural and, unlike other ghost programmes, particularly appeals to viewers because, "the crew are a normal bunch of folk, so people at home are saying, 'That could be me'".

To celebrate their centenary, Yvette and Karl - who's long since graduated to a role in front of the camera - are returning to Michelham Priory, the medieval monastery from Most Haunted's first-ever edition.

Laughing, she added: "Well, me and Karl had to spend the night before the investigation there. We lasted eight minutes. And we both fled screaming."

I ask her why, and she replied in a matter-of-fact manner: "Just furniture moving".

"There's nothing worse," she continued, "than when you're in a dark place, you can't see your hand in front of your face, you know it's haunted and you hear dragging or scratching.

"It's like, 'What the hell is that?!'. And doors opening on their own, footsteps. You know no one else is there, just the two of you. So we slept in the car. It was too frightening.

"When we went back for the investigation, we caught a chair moving across the floor. You can see it on camera, and there are no wires or anything. It scared the guys to death.

"We've also caught a harpsichord playing on its own. You actually hear the music as it's being played.

"And Stuart, one of our cameramen, had an open wound, a big cut appear right down his back. He screamed out in pain and we lifted up his shirt and there was just blood all over him.

"Oh my God, it was absolutely terrifying."

Last year, Most Haunted's critics - and there are plenty of them - rubbed their hands in glee when the show's notional star, psychic Derek Acorah, left the series to front his own programme, Ghost Towns.

Yvette readily admits LIVINGtv were worried about this development.

"They were saying. 'Oh no, the show's about mediums and Derek is quite strong'," she revealed.

"But we kept telling them, 'This show is not, and never will be, about a medium. It's about a group of people who are investigating the paranormal. Everyone has a role to play, it's not about one star'.

"Even then they were still, 'Oh God, will it work?', but it absolutely has."

Although the series' success has continued undimmed, Yvette is aware that while there's Most Haunted, there will always be a slew of sceptics seeking to discredit it.

"I think the Mirror did an expose about Derek being given anagrams by Ciaran O'Keeffe," she said.

She was referring to last year's story in which the show's resident parapsychologist claimed he'd created false information about a location - including creating a fictitious long-dead South African jailer called Kreed Kafer (an anagram of Derek Faker) - in order to see if the psychic would uncover these 'facts' during his reading. He did.

"We stuck by Ciaran when we found out exactly what had gone on. And he actually told us, 'I've been testing every medium that we've ever used, and Derek Acorah was the only one that tripped up'.

"Ciaran's a professor in his field, he's very well respected and that's what he's there to do. That is his job.

"As far as newspapers and people criticising us and saying it's fake, my response to that is, 'Well, come on the show. Come on the show and you'll crap yourself'.

"But no one's ever done it," she mused. "I wonder why."

Real name: Yvette Fielding

Birthdate: September 23, 1968

Significant other: Most Haunted co-presenter Karl Beattie.

Career high: Watching the programme she co-created, Most Haunted, turn into a cult success

Career low: Facing financial ruin when it looked like no TV company would buy the Most Haunted concept

Famous for: Wetting herself on camera

Words of wisdom: "One of the reasons why Most Haunted is a success is because it has a comedy element to it. People absolutely fall about laughing when they see me scream and swear."

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