While I am a firm believer that there are spirits that reside among us and definitely places that are “haunted”, there are some points that stretch believability. While I thoroughly enjoy the skeptical analysis present in the television show Ghost Hunters, I’ve found the show Most Haunted quite entertaining but pretty far-fetched.
The premise behind the British television show is that the crew spends twenty-four hours in a haunted location. It is produced by the series host, Yvette Fielding along with her husband, Karl Beattie, who also appears on the show. It’s been on the air on the other side of the pond since 2002 and for a number of years on various cable channels in the United States.
This boxed set is made up of all 20 episodes from the first two series (what we in the U.S. call season) of the show. It’s long and runs 1020 minutes. The final disc is all bonus material, including extra footage from each show. For people who like this stuff, you are definitely getting your money’s worth.
Each show starts with an introduction by Yvette about the location they are going to. Rather than having an air of skepticism about the alleged haunting, she seems to have a tone more to ratchet up the fright level. Many of the stories are reconstructed using special effects. Some of the reconstructions leave a lot to be desired.
The “investigation” by the crew of Most Haunted is handled very differently and is far from a critical investigation. Rarely is a camera or recording equipment left unmanned in a room where activity is alleged to have occurred. Instead, all of the recordings for the evening are handled when members of the crew are in the locale. They also keep the camera on the crew during an investigation, rather than record specific places and see if anything turns up.
The other problem I have with the show is the presence of a spiritual medium. Derek Acorah was their primary medium for many years. He allegedly has a spirit guide names “Sam” who helps him communicate with those on the other side. There has been controversy about his “performances” which is the only term I can give them. Ciaran O’Keeffe, the resident skeptic, and parapsychologist talked to a London newspaper on the eve of the show’s premiere in the United States about the instances where Derek had information about a location beforehand, and where misinformation had been deliberately planted, yet Derek claimed to have gotten that information as communication with the other side.
Tidbits of information are given in title bars at the bottom of the screen during the investigations, particularly when there is information to reinforce what Derek appears to channel. I just find myself wondering after all that has been exposed, how much information he really had access to, despite the assertions that he had no idea where they are going. In any case, if I look at this critically I just have to toss away most of his “experiences” and try to look at other information presented.
One time the crew tries to make the argument that a dog staring into space and having his hackles go up for no apparent reason are signs of paranormal activity. In that case, there’s a heck of a lot around my home since my dogs bark when nothing is there all the time! Maybe it’s a chipmunk or something he picks up on that we don’t that’s NOT paranormal! I prefer the approach where any explanation other than the paranormal is tried, and then when all those other options have been disproven as the cause, a paranormal explanation is sought. Heck, we had that happen just the other day when a chair moved outside our window on the deck and the kids swore “something” was out there. I went out and found the wind blowing in the exact direction the chair moved – case closed, no ghost.
Another is the issue of orbs. Now I might not agree with other paranormal investigators who dismiss any incidence of orbs ever seen, but in many of these shows, the presence of an orb is highlighted when even I can see that it’s just a light from the camera or something reflecting off of another surface.
I do find it annoying at times how much they talk when things are “happening”. It makes it difficult to hear some of the things we are supposed to be listening for. The same is true with the camera concentrating on their faces instead of what they are looking at, so it swings to what they think they see, but there are no cameras set up independently or pointed looking ahead of them.
I don’t have confidence in Most Haunted as a critical investigation of the paranormal. However, that doesn’t mean that watching the shows can’t be fun! I consider it a “guilty pleasure.”
Part of the fun I have comes from the host, Yvette Fielding. She is so funny to watch because she is such a scardy-cat. In one investigation, she talks about how scared she is when confronted by a closed door she knows was left open. Investigator Phil Whyman is also fun to watch during the initial walk-through with Derek. Just watching his expressions during Derek’s performances is hysterical. He’s got this serious look as he’s scribbling away, taking down all that is said.
Going from oldest to newer in the collection, the tone of the show changes over the two series and the crew seems to get a bit more discriminating and skeptical in their investigations. Whether this is in response to criticism directed at the show or due to the rise of more credible paranormal groups is anyone’s guess.
I enjoy it the way I enjoy stories around the campfire. It’s fun, but I just can’t take it seriously, and what has been said by some about what’s happened on the show really casts doubt on their credibility. However, it is entertaining and I can give it credit on that level. If you look at it as fiction, it’s really fun to watch.
A violent Poltergeist in a Manchester nightclub…
The place was originally part of Albert Hall where the Rev. Samuel Collyer preached to the largest Methodist congregation in the world. He is believed to still haunt the place.
Reported goings on at this popular nightclub include beer glasses levitating off the bar and then smashing on the floor. The temperature seems to change for no reason and the lights flicker.
Paranormal investigators who checked out the place in 1999 are on hand to talk about their experiences.
Derek supposedly senses a variety of people, including clergymen, but the names he comes up with are nowhere to be found in the church’s records. At one point while they are talking in another part of the building, a loud bang is heard from the tower where they just were, and where they know no one is now.
Derek takes on the personality of someone named “Godfrey” and seems to be on the borderline of becoming violent with the rest of the investigators, wanting them to leave.
Having stood on the grounds since 1070, the castle and its ruins have been the site of numerous sightings and activity. Mary Queen of Scots was imprisoned here three times and is reported to haunt the place as well as Charles I.
The Kings bedroom is reported to be one of the most active places, with people having collapsed. Due to all of this, it was closed off to the public.
Derek appears to channel Amayas Pulet who was the last “keeper” of Mary Queen of Scots and despised her for her Catholicism.
Station Hotel Dudley
The hotel has stood since 1863 and has many stories associated with it, including reports of the murder of a maid who was subsequently buried on the grounds.
The Skirrid Inn
Wales’ oldest in located in Monmouthshire. Has been the site of much death and anguish through the years, including a multitude of hangings around the year 1110 when it served as a courthouse.
After a description of people feeling like they are being strangled and finding rope burn marks on their necks, the footage is shown. If it’s supposed to be a re-enactment, it doesn’t say so. It is quite obvious the footage is of the same person replayed over and over from different angles. Is it an attempt at deception to make it look as if it’s more than one person?
Clerkenwell House of Detention
This was a holding prison for prisoners in transit. Prisoners lived here in squalid conditions, including men, women, and children. It is considered a place of torture and terror.
Derek picks up on the presence of Jack Sheppard. Considering the blurb states that he was something of a celebrity in his day, it’s quite believable that he’s heard his story of being imprisoned here even if he didn’t know where he was going for the investigation.
However, what happens next is the most convincing evidence I’ve seen of a medium being able to contact the spirit world. The investigation takes a dark turn as Derek seems to be in touch with a spirit named “Michael” who was vicious and violent and through Derek threatens the women in the crew with vile acts.
The Bell Inn
The crew ventures to Derby where they check out three different sites which are allegedly haunted. Derby is known for its paranormal activity. At the Bell Inn, there is an unsolved murder. The Heritage Centre was built on top of a burial ground for plague victims. Lafferty’s Inn dates back to 1693 and has had many reported paranormal occurrences.
Llancaiach Fawr Manor
Located in South Wales, this manor house built in the 1600s has a sighting and story for every room. Derek picks up spirits who were former housekeepers, and many of the Pritchard family members.
A former owner of the home is along for the night. He testifies that he spoke with Derek earlier in the night and knows he didn’t know the history of the home and is quite impressed with what he comes up with.
Located in Cornwall, these ruins and buildings date back to the 12th century. There are many stories coming from the property, including that it is inhabited by the ghosts of former owners who dabbled in the black arts. Derek picks up a variety of spirits, including a dancing girl who has been seen by guests, and some unusual surnames who do have ties to the castle.
There are some very unusual occurrences and coincidences of what Derek is picking up and what happens to other members of the crew.
The Clock House, Surrey Hills
A manor house that dates back to the 12th century is investigated for a variety of sightings reported by people over the years. The owner himself has captured ectoplasm or “mists” on photographs as well as had experiences.
Derek Acorah seems to immediately pick up on a presence that backs up reports of the home being haunted by priests or monks who once lived there. He also states that the current owner, Fred, who described his purchase of the home as a “feeling of needing to live here”, was a former resident of the home who has been reincarnated.
When they sit in silence for evidence, a tapping noise can be heard. They state that it sounds like footsteps, but from what I hear it sounds like a heating system with water running through the pipes. Yvette even complains about how hot it is in the home after this.
Caesar’s Nightclub, London
The spirit of Ruth Ellis, a woman who was given the death penalty and hung for murder is believed to haunt the club. The club is owned by Fred, the man who also owns the Clock House. During that show, Derek linked the spirit of Ruth to Fred.
Now at the club, Ruth’s spirit seems to come to Derek again.
R.A.F. East Kirby, Lincolnshire
There have been documented sightings at this airfield north of London. One particular story involves the ghost of what is believed to be an American pilot whose remains were found beneath the wreckage of his crashed plane 50 years after the accident.
Derek seems to almost immediately pick up on the men killed in 1945 whose bodies weren’t found until 1995. However, it’s pretty conceivable that this is a story he’s heard before, including the names of the men involved.
This is an interesting case as there are physical effects on members of the crew from the paranormal phenomena.
Moresby Hall, Cumbria
Home since the 12th century, there have been numerous reports of paranormal activity. The remains of many humans have been found in the home.
They see an orb around Yvette’s knee when the three of them are in a tunnel and she claims to feel something touching her knee. However, the orb looks something like a shadow or reflection from a camera light and that would make sense since the camera moves in that direction to film her knee.
A bridge built in Edinburgh had people living underneath it in the vaults. They were very poor people in squalid conditions. These were lost to time until 1980. Strange occurrences have been reported. The crew investigates and Derek seems to pick up on the spirits of people in stories that have become public knowledge. There are also many instances of unexplained noises and the crew feeling sick and being touched.
Leith Hall, Aberdeenshire
The home, built in 1650, was kept in the family for years until 1949 when it was given to the National Trust. People have reported seeing various apparitions around the home. Derek comes up with a lot of information that’s spot on, and there are many noises throughout the night.
Aberglasney House, Wales
The house seems to be bad luck, as the people who have resided there have met with various forms of misfortune. There is a story of five maids who died together in a bedchamber of suffocation from fumes and now reportedly haunt the house. There were some noises through the night and some unusual occurrences, but nothing spectacular.
The Schooner Hotel
With 3,000 ghost sightings since 1998, it would seem to be a no-brainer to visit this former coach inn in Northumberland. The hotel is empty except for the investigators, yet the crew finds lights turned on that were previously off and doors opening that they knew were closed. There are also lots of orbs caught on tape.
Fitz Manor, Shropshire
Reports of a homosexual priest who was crucified and now haunts this house bring the team here. The current residents have seen their dogs react as if someone is standing in the room when no one is there.
Muckleburgh Collection, Norfolk
This is an area that was a military base through WWII and now is a village and museum with a collection of military vehicles and machines. It was a different type of investigation due to the fact that a lot of the history and names involved were well-known.
The Galleries of Justice, Nottinghamshire
This facility, which has been turned into a museum, has various ghosts thought to be from different times throughout the centuries. People have reported having doors close on them and hearing keys turn in locks when no one else should be in the building. Beneath the jail is medieval caves that frighten even the most resilient employees.
Tamworth Castle, Staffordshire
An 1800-year-old castle that has also been a home is investigated. There are many stories over those years that give rise to tales of spirits wandering around the place.
• Clerkenwell House of Detention “Extended Walkaround”
• Most Haunted Extra – Bonus footage from many of the shows contained on the previous five discs
Categories: Ghost Hunters and other Paranormal, Television Reviews
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