There was a really good programme on BBC4 last night called 'Ghosts in the Machine', which examined the history of paranormal television in the UK. Ghostwatch featured on it towards the end, and they interviewed a few of the people involved in the show, including Sarah Greene, who made an interesting point about the timing of the broadcast which may have contributed to the fact that a lot of people believed it to be real. Apparently, there was a film airing on ITV at the same time, and it cut to an advert break just after the opening credits of Ghostwatch had ended. Many people flicked around during the adbreak, and came across Ghostwatch and thought they were watching a live broadcast.
The backlash that arose as a result of the show still baffles me to this day. I thought it was a fantastic piece of television, that had the fortune of a number of outside circumstances combine to create an event that not many people will forget in a hurry. People are correct to compare it to Welles' War of the Worlds broadcast, as it had a very similar effect on the British public. You can tell most of the people who critisised it - the kind of idiots who sat on debate shows not long after, talking about how the BBC had "betrayed" the viewing public - were just embarrassed that they'd been so effectively taken in by it.