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Old October 26 2009, 10:42 PM   #1
Bob The Skutter
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Ghostwatch Halloween 1992(BBC One)

A conversation on twitter got me thinking about this show from 17 years ago. Almost everyone of my generation seems to remember it because it scared the fuck out of them. I just wondered if it's as universal as it seems to me, or if it's just cos I was 10 at the time it aired that it had such an impact on me.

It came well before Blair Witch or any of those sorts of films, but I guess it's a similar idea. Take a seemingly live/real event and show it without any signs it's actually drama.
I remember watching it live that Halloween night, with my brother and sister(who left before the end).

It was really well done, and it's hard to come by now on DVD, but it's up on youtube in 10 parts. It really seems a shame that we don't get things like this any more, but from what happened after the show I guess it's somewhat understandable that they daren't try and "trick" the audience like that again.
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Old October 26 2009, 11:24 PM   #2
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Re: Ghostwatch Halloween 1992(BBC One)

I remember seeing it when it first aired. It was very well put together indeed.

As for the parallels to Blair Witch, I feel it owes more to Orson Welles's War of the Worlds radio play - the original mock-u-drama.
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Old October 26 2009, 11:25 PM   #3
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Re: Ghostwatch Halloween 1992(BBC One)

I was only 10 in 1992 so was unable to get control of the TV off my mother so missed all the fun.
Although wasn't there some complaints the next day about it?
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Old October 26 2009, 11:31 PM   #4
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Re: Ghostwatch Halloween 1992(BBC One)

Zyborg Ragescream wrote: View Post
I remember seeing it when it first aired. It was very well put together indeed.

As for the parallels to Blair Witch, I feel it owes more to Orson Welles's War of the Worlds radio drama.
You are correct, it probably owes a lot to that. It obviously can't owe anything to Blair Witch since it was a long time before Blair Witch was even made I wish there was the opportunity for more shows like this to be made. But I guess it'd be hard in the age of the internet.

Serial Thread Killer I was 10 at the time too, I can't remember how it came about but it was just me, my brother and sister watching it on our own. I think my mam was in the house but it was just us in the living room watching TV.
And yeah, it was very controversial. Apparently not long after a man with a mental problem which gave him a much younger mental age committed suicide due to thinking banging pipes were ghosts like in the show.
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Old October 26 2009, 11:36 PM   #5
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Re: Ghostwatch Halloween 1992(BBC One)

Bob the Skull wrote: View Post
Zyborg Ragescream wrote: View Post
I remember seeing it when it first aired. It was very well put together indeed.

As for the parallels to Blair Witch, I feel it owes more to Orson Welles's War of the Worlds radio drama.
You are correct, it probably owes a lot to that. It obviously can't owe anything to Blair Witch since it was a long time before Blair Witch was even made I wish there was the opportunity for more shows like this to be made. But I guess it'd be hard in the age of the internet.
The Blair Witch Project did a good job of it, though, and used the Internet to add some verisimilitude - and publicity - to proceedings.

It's similar to what LOST seemed to do with its significant online presence, use of alternate reality gaming to promote itself, etc.

Any future project would use not only television, film, radio and the Internet, but all sorts of tricks just like an ARG would.
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Old October 26 2009, 11:55 PM   #6
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Re: Ghostwatch Halloween 1992(BBC One)

Yeah I remember watching it too. I was 8 at the time, and scared the shit out of me too.
I remember me and my sister watching it thinking it was real, and my dad trying to convince us it wasn't just because it had "that guy off Red Dwarf in it"
In fact I think he might have turned it off before it finished as it was getting scary.

Some nostalgia made me get the DVD of it for Halloween 2004, and I watched it again. It certainly brought back memories, and some parts of it are a bit silly. But even as a 20 yr old in 2004 there were still bits that scarred me. That part where the camera zooms round the kitchen and for a second you see the reflection of the ghost in the window... bloody hell.
And the bit at the end where Sarah Greene goes into the cupboard under the stairs is just disturbing.

They really don't make them like that anymore
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Old October 26 2009, 11:57 PM   #7
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Re: Ghostwatch Halloween 1992(BBC One)

It seems it's hard to come by on DVD now, only seems to be available used and expensive.
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Old October 27 2009, 12:04 AM   #8
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Re: Ghostwatch Halloween 1992(BBC One)

It was 15 quid when I got it.

Another thing watching it now I wouldn't have noticed as a kid; Sarah Greene definitely has a cute/MILF thing going on
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Old October 27 2009, 12:05 AM   #9
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Re: Ghostwatch Halloween 1992(BBC One)

Ethros wrote: View Post
It was 15 quid when I got it.

Another thing watching it now I wouldn't have noticed as a kid; Sarah Greene definitely has a cute/MILF thing going on
You're not the first person to say that.
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Old October 27 2009, 01:16 AM   #10
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Re: Ghostwatch Halloween 1992(BBC One)

I was 13 when it came out, and I remember watching it in the house on my own, and it definitely freaked me out a little bit. I tried getting it on DVD a while back, but I couldn't find it anywhere, at least not for a decent price. I ended up finding it on a torrent site, so I downloaded a copy. Might watch it again this Halloween, actually.
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Old October 28 2009, 07:39 AM   #11
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Re: Ghostwatch Halloween 1992(BBC One)

I've heard of this over the years but I've never seen it. I'm actually quite surprised by that, actually, since it's obviously the kind of show I would have watched. The only thing I can think of it that I was out somewhere and the video failed spectacularly!
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Old October 28 2009, 09:13 AM   #12
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Re: Ghostwatch Halloween 1992(BBC One)

I was 23 when it aired, and I knew beforehand that it was a fictional drama. (Apparently, the original plan was to make out that it was a real live broadcast, but the BBC bottled out of that at the eleventh hour.) Even despite that, it scared the shit out of me. I've got the DVD, and I watch it every Halloween. Yes, I can see the bits that are cheesy and aritificial, the bad acting and the (now) fairly recognizable supporting actors. It doesn't matter. The moment of real impact is Pipes appearing in the curtains. On subsequent viewings, he starts popping up more and more. I'm 40 now, and after watching Ghostwatch I'm still scared to go up stairs in the dark for a few days - I think it successfully hits some really deep primal fear.
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Old October 28 2009, 09:31 AM   #13
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Re: Ghostwatch Halloween 1992(BBC One)

Andrew_Kearley wrote: View Post
I was 23 when it aired, and I knew beforehand that it was a fictional drama. (Apparently, the original plan was to make out that it was a real live broadcast, but the BBC bottled out of that at the eleventh hour.) Even despite that, it scared the shit out of me. I've got the DVD, and I watch it every Halloween. Yes, I can see the bits that are cheesy and aritificial, the bad acting and the (now) fairly recognizable supporting actors. It doesn't matter. The moment of real impact is Pipes appearing in the curtains. On subsequent viewings, he starts popping up more and more. I'm 40 now, and after watching Ghostwatch I'm still scared to go up stairs in the dark for a few days - I think it successfully hits some really deep primal fear.
Are you sure? I remember the BBC getting a bollocking for not advertising the fact it was a drama and not a live event... and wiki says the same but that they did plead innocence by saying that it was obvious that it was a drama given that it was in a drama slot and had a written by credit.
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Old October 28 2009, 09:48 AM   #14
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Re: Ghostwatch Halloween 1992(BBC One)

Yes, I'm positive. It was in the Radio Times and everything that it was a "Screen One" drama. The fact that this was such a last minute decision though is obvious in the very very quickly tacked on opening credits. It's possible that many people missed these and thought it was for real, and I believe the onscreen publicity to this fact was minimal. Sarah Greene even plugged it on Going Live saying she was taking part in a live tv ghost hunt, if I remember rightly.
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Old October 28 2009, 11:41 AM   #15
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Re: Ghostwatch Halloween 1992(BBC One)

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.
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