I would like…if I may…to take you on a strange journey. It was Halloween 1992 and I was but a young nipper (well, 13 but I was pretty stupid for my age) and unbeknownst to me I was about to skip blindly towards an evening that would forever leave me emotionally and spiritually scarred. I am of course talking about the night when "Ghostwatch" was aired on the BBC for the first and perhaps last time, which strangely coincided with the night where I would begin the first of hundreds of ghost related nightmares.
I was never a young man for trick or treating with groups of friends at Halloween, and in all honesty leaving the house at any time of the year was a bit of a push. I happily settled in for a night in with some treats my mother had bought for the gangs of children travelling outside, although the door would remain firmly ignored all night.
The show begins with the acceptable, if not adorable face of British talk television, Michael ‘Parky’ Parkinson. "Ooh Parky" I would come to say in years to come, often accompanied by much hilarity, but this night would contain no hilarity. No hilarity AT ALL. Parky introduced me to the Early family, a slightly unnerving looking clan. I now see with hindsight (and the DVD) that this family possessed the acting skills of a group of a group of dead syphilitic otters, but at the time it was all too real. You have to remember that this was not billed as a spoof or an intentional hoax. To the majority of people watching it was a show in a similar vein as to what Most Haunted with the delightful Yvette Fielding is today. Anyway, as lovely as Yvette is, I digress.
The Early family, comprising of the single mother Pam (of lunatic starey eyes) and her two daughters Kim and Suzanne, had invited the BBC to their home as a last ditch resort to solve their apparent un-dead molestation at the hands of a malevolent spirit. They had previously turned to the newspapers and even to Robert Kilroy Silk, but even he couldn’t help, although that's probably because he's a useless greasy faced gimp. While Parky monitored from the safety of the studio with family shrink Dr Lin Pascoe and phone monkey Mike Smith, eighties lady-next-door fap icon and wife of Smithy, Sarah Green was sent into the field to stay the night with the Early family. Accompanied by her camera and soundman, Sarah and co-presenter Craig Charles monitored the events of the evening. And events did not stay quiet for long. Strange scratching noises turned into moved objects, which escalated to brief sightings of the entity that came to be known as "Pipes"
Pipes apparently lived in Pam Early’s glory hole. Fnarr.
Anyway, the shit hit the fan and everything kicked off. Suzanne got scratched on the face, pictures flew off the wall, cats wailed and all the while phone calls from distressed "viewers"; in the studio amplified the tension. It was like being trapped in a nightmare, akin to the War of the Worlds transmission I suspect. It just kept getting scarier and scarier. And then the lights went out and fuck me sideways if that wasn’t the exact moment some little shits decided to bang on my front door demanding their treats. New pants thank you. Sarah, looking for one of the missing girls went into the glory hole even though I was screaming at the television for her not to. Who will present Live and Kicking now BBC? Answer me that! Sarah, NO! NOOOOOO!
The trouble was, the haunting didn’t stay in this house in the middle of nowhere that I would never have to go near and could pretend didn't exist. Oh no. It moved into the BBC studio. It moved into PARKY! As Dr Pascoe so eloquently stated as papers whipped about her head: “My God Michael, we’ve created a séance, a massive séance.” Lights exploded, people fled and all that was left was Parky. In the dark. Alone. Just like me. And he walked to the camera, reading the autocue that contained to words that will haunt me until my dying day.
"Round and round the garden, like a teddy bear..."
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