Monday, 23 May 2016

I Ain't Afraid of No Ghost (or of No Double Negatives)

Tonight, inspired by the impromptu quiz on Sarah Greene our In Your Inner Ear co-presenter Stephen Halliday set for me during the show that aired this evening (don't ask), I watched the infamous BBC quasi-documentary Ghostwatch. 

I can clearly remember wanting - but not being brave enough - to watch it when it first went out in 1992. I was very into reading about the paranormal as a kid; an interest that was stoked by my one of my mum's friends, who lent me a lot of books on the subject. I think most children go through this stage: seeking out things that terrify them, then wishing they hadn't. It didn't help that the books I borrowed were pretty graphic, and written in the style of enclopedias that were recounting solid fact. 

By the time I started secondary school at Thomas Alleyne in Stevenage, I'd sought out the ghost stories that were connected to it (it opened in 1558, so there were bound to be a few). I used to hang around the building The Grange next door, which was supposed to be haunted, with friends - and even took a couple of pictures of it with my camera, in the hope that something spooky would show up (I foolishly never developed the film: I could be sitting on a ectoplasmic goldmine). The one time we were brave enough to go right up to it, a tile fell off the roof, which we took to be a warning and never went that near again. 

(I have some excellent ghost stories about my drama school, incidentally, which I'll save for another day.)

"But what about Ghostwatch?", I hear you ask. 

While some of the programme was clearly of its time, it's still pretty effective. I can see why it received so many complaints, through perhaps irresponsibly blurring the line between fact and fiction. If nothing else, it paved the way for Ivette Fielding's post-Blue Peter career; Sarah Greene clearly missed out. 

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