9.25pm 31st October 1992.
I was sitting round my friend Suzanne’s house. Her mum is Canadian so she was massively into Halloween, far more than the UK was in 1992. 13 year old me had chosen to go as zombie which meant regular clothing ripped up, covered in talcum powder and fake blood. Suzanne and I played games, made cookies with the help of the pillsbury dough boy, ate way too many sugary treats then plonked down infront of the television for some post watershed, parent approved, scares. At the time satellite television wasn’t a standard in all households so viewing options were limited. But good old BBC had something spooktacular scheduled. So we, like thousands of other people across the country dressed up in bin liners and bad wigs, unwittingly turned our televisions over to ‘Ghostwatch’. We had no idea what was about to happen.
The BBC received 30,000 calls to its switchboard in a single hour and it’s not surprising. In order for the programme to be taken seriously it was staged as though it was a live documentary. Presenters and pundits that regular graced our screens were there telling us how terrible this was interviewing and observing the family who were being haunted. Presenters I trusted and loved as a child bold faced lied to me and I slowly started to panic that they were all in grave danger. Michael Parkinson himself looked uneasy and I knew that Craig Charles, Sarah Greene and Danny Baker wouldn’t lie to me. They couldn’t. Could they? As the last few minutes gathered momentum on screen I noticed that I was holding my breath. I couldn’t believe this was happening. I kept saying to myself ‘no… this can’t be real..’ but if Michael Parkinson said it was… then it must be. Right up until the credits rolled I was confused, frightened and both a believe and a sceptic. To be honest once the credits started rolling and actors names were listed… I was still unsure that Parky and Greeny weren’t either (a) injured or (b) dead. Ghostwatch had successfully pulled off the best trick or treat of all time. Fooling almost an entire nation that some of their most beloved tv personalities were having a paranormal experience on live TV!
Even though my adult self knows it wasn’t real, there’s a part of my child self that refuses to let me watch it again. Just incase. The same part of my mind that refuses to let me say ‘Candy man’ 5 times into a mirror and the same bit that keeps an eye out in the fog for red eyed wanderers.
This generation may fear The Purge, The Conjuring and a day when there are no snap chat filters. But they’ll never understand how 24 years ago, for 91 minutes, our whole country was terrified of a ghost in Greater London called.. ‘Pipes’ *shudders*
What are your Ghost watch memories? We’re you allowed to watch it? Did you believe it was really happening until the credits rolled? Have you ever watched it again?
Let me know in the comments belowwwwwww…