BBC "Ghostwatch" (1992)

I just recently had the opportunity to watch a video of this notorious broadcast for the first time, and was greatly impressed. It’s a brilliant concept, wonderfully designed to blur the edges between reality and television. It’s not too difficult for me to believe that some people really accepted it as fact, at least at first. The early segments perfectly capture the “manufactured event” quality that characterized the dramatic television stunts of that time such as those of Geraldo Rivera, and then the show proceeds to attack that structure mercilessly until it falls apart.

Interestingly, the recognizable actors such as Michael Parkinson and Craig Charles seem much more convincing than the other characters. The actors playing the guest scientists, the family and neighbors all seem to display that subtle artificiality that screams, “I am acting as though I am speaking in an untutored and extemporaneous manner,” whereas Parkinson is much more fluid and natural at appearing caught off guard. The plot-related call-in sequences were the only really transparent bits in my opinion.

I don’t know how much the “subliminal” additions added to the effect of the show, but they had some pretty effectively spooky moments in there.

I found Ghostwatch to be a more effective horror movie than most actual horror movies made these days. All the small things effectively leading up to a blink and you’ll miss him Mr. Pipes sighting, making you question whether or not you did actually see him followed by the studio in complete chaos.

I can definately understand why that show might’ve caused a few problems (ie the claims of Post Traumatic Stress) for kids who saw it, especially if people missed the disclaimers about it. Utilising Craig Charles, Michael Parkinson & the female reporter was perfect in ramping up the realism.

That scared the living piss out of me when it was first shown.
I was 21 and quite drunk. I knew it was fake but it was done quite well in parts.

It scared the shit out of me, too. I was 12. (Sorry, yojimbo :stuck_out_tongue: )

I was 22 and didn’t realise it was fake until afterwards, I was pretty scared too.

I was 24, sober and knew it was a drama. Thought it was shit.

(Should add, I suppose, that this was despite knowing it was a drama. Awful acting from children, I seem to recall.)

I thought the younger sister was fairly convincing, really. Interestingly, the girls were sisters in real life. I suppose that casting choice was made to encourage a feel of spontanaiety. Surprisingly, it was the older sister who continued on as an actress, if IMDb is to be believed.

I notice that the skeptical scientist is mentioned in affiliation with CSICOP. I wonder if they gave permission for the mention, or even advised the show about ghost-hunting techniques? I also get the distinct impression that British people believe all American men wear ugly, ill-fitting suits.