Friday, 14 November 2008

Most Haunted - a Lesson in Theatrics

Sky Living’s ‘Most Haunted’ is, in my opinion (having watched it on several occasion) clearly staged. We the viewer are asked to indulge the presenters in what is essentially billed as a factual program which attempts to investigating the supernatural but in reality offers content which beggars belief and often verges on the comedic. The program’s off camera antics are clearly (even to the most gullible) instigated by the production team. I would go as far as to suggest these antics are introduced to give a pitifully inadequate boost to a show struggling to find anything to fill an hour or so.

As early as 2005, Dr. Ciaran O'Keeffe, the resident parapsychologist for the show, sensational brought to the media's attention the blatant duping of the public, describing Most Haunted as nothing more than "showmanship and dramatics." Most of us knew that Ciaran but thanks anyway.

‘He accuses the show's medium Derek Acorah of hoodwinking viewers by pretending to communicate with spirits and obtaining information about locations prior to filming‘.

‘The Mirror has also obtained unedited footage which appears to show presenter Yvette Fielding and her husband faking 'paranormal' occurrences such as ghostly bumps and knocks‘.

Source; the Daily Mirror 28/10/2005

Contrived Hoodwinking? - absolutely!

Most Haunted’s format, in my opinion, leans heavily on fabrication and deception, no surprise there then. A team of individuals; comprising of presenter - Yvette Fielding, a sound and camera crew and not forgetting the obligatory spirit medium thrown in for good measure, conduct investigations of reputedly haunted locations often with the help of ‘B list’ celebrities, no doubt an inclusion to help bolster flagging viewing figures. Guests are encouraged to wonder through dark rooms and passageways, clutching a night vision camera for company and a head full of creepy tales supplied at no extra charge by the Most Haunted team.

Turn off the lights please!

Over the years I have investigated many haunted locations but have never once had the compulsion to "turn off all the lights" (subdue the lighting by all means) as seems to be the norm with Most Haunted. Many who have spent years studying and researching the paranormal, are generally of the opinion that for this elusive phenomena to manifest, it would seem to require an energy source, whether it be biological - you or I, or more likely from another source such as lighting, heating or electrical devices; cameras and recording equipment for example which are often the targets of erratic behaviour in the presence of something unusual. If the energy absorption theory is to be believed, then plunging the area into total darkness is probably not the best way forward and what’s more you can‘t see a bloody thing with the lights off but then how convenient for the Most Haunted team to then get to work with their shenanigans. It is not rocket science to deduce that this behaviour is adopted solely for effect by the producers, allowing the team to prod, push, make noises and throw things about, it's all so tediously contrived from stone throwing to table tipping; the latter exposed as fraudulent by the Victorians and is one of the oldest tricks in the book.

You're on your own mate!

These theatrics lose even more credibility when guests are asked to ‘go it alone;‘ why? The logic behind this request is absurd. Yet again, I can only think it is another example engineered to add a further air of suspense, which it fails to do. There is no point in going solo for obvious reasons, "did you see that? No of course you didn't, I'm alone." All the more ridiculous when suggestible heads are already full to bursting point with Miss Fielding’s heavily embroidered ghost stories. I can fully understand that trying to fill a show that runs for an hour or so with material that let’s face it is rarer than hens teeth, is going to be a headache of epic proportions for any director. But if you’re going to make this kind of a program, which includes the numerous antics described earlier, then for heavens sake bill it as 'light entertainment' and not a serious study of the supernatural, that way we can all have a laugh, which most of us already do I'll wager


Another thing the show is eager to milk for all its worth, is the existence of so called 'spirit orbs.' Tiny, innocent, blurred, white spots of light, which often appear in photographs and spoil a good picture. I'm sure you have had them pop-up in your photographs from time to time. These annoying blemishes are easily explained however.

Since the arrival of digital photography, it is extremely easy to inadvertently photograph so-called spirit orbs. Read any digital camera manual and I'm sure, like mine, they will point out, that in some low light conditions, especially when using flash, dust, moisture and other airborne particles are greatly enhanced and appear as white, blurred dots. Sorry if I have ruined anybody’s day but these little blemishes are nothing to get excited about. See side bar for more on orbs.

To conclude. Most Haunted still attracts an audience - just, although if you believe the pundits, the shows ratings are on the decline. The last series was struggling and it showed, the format has become staid and trite and Miss Fielding irksome shouts of “what was that?” have become tedious and repetitious.

It’s interesting to note the production company responsible for Most Haunted was set up by Fielding’s husband Karl Beattie and is aptly named ‘Antix Productions‘ need I say more..


Anonymous said...

I once watched an episode where they were attempting 'table tipping'. You could see the creases on the table cloth where Fielding was pushing the table.

Willow said...

Thanks for your comment 'anonymous. ' Since the programme was exposed by Dr. Ciaren O'Keeffe, who worked on the show several years ago as a sham, I am surprised it still has an audience.