Thursday, 17 March 2011


Hello everyone!

On October 31st, 1992 at 9:30 pm, I remember sitting down to watch a BBC television programme called "Ghostwatch". What I saw on this show would be permanently imprinted into my mind. For years afterward I would always ask friends if they remembered "that" show which was on at Halloween.

To date, it still stands strong as one of the most controversial TV shows ever shown on a British screen, fooling an entire nation and accumulating an impressive 30,000 calls to the BBC switchboard in the first hour of broadcast!

"Ghostwatch" was a one off television drama masquerading as a "live" broadcast with popular presenters from the BBC. It was produced for anthology series "Screen One" and was written by Stephen Volk and directed by Lesley Manning. Even though it was presented as a "Screen One" drama including credits before the show and a large section in that weeks Radio Times, the public were under the impression that what they were seeing was real.

In the following days a lot of anger was directed at the show and the day after the show most of the tabloids had "Ghostwatch" as their front page news. It was the first TV show to be placed in the British Medical Journal for being the cause of post-traumatic stress (specifically in two 10 year old boys).

The BBC imposed a 10 year broadcasting ban and to my knowledge, it has never been shown in Britain again (I could be wrong haha) but has been broadcast in a few countries outside the UK.

"Ghostwatch" is made to look like one of the phone in shows which were popular at that time and the focus of the show is the investigation of the so called "most haunted house in Britain", with a team of presenters in the studio and out on location at the house.

In the studio is the well known Michael Parkinson, who is the interviewer, and Mike Smith, who is running the switchboards. Out at the house is Sarah Greene, who is interviewing the family at the house. She was a popular family presenter and is actually married to Mike Smith in real life and also in the show. Outside the house talking to the public and giving comedy relief is Craig Charles, famous for playing Dave Lister in "Red Dwarf".

The house is owned by single mother Pam Early, who lives with her daughters Suzanne and Kim. Around December 1991, strange phenomena begins to happen in the house. Furniture moving by itself, objects floating around, and a metallic clanging noise is heard. After a while the eldest of the daughters, Suzanne, begins to experience cuts on her body. The daughters claim that there is a ghost in the house called "Pipes", because of the metallic clanging which begins when he is around.

Sarah Greene is tasked with being in the house with the family to witness any phenomena which may happen. Cameras are placed around the house and the cameraman has a state of the art camera with night vision and thermal imaging which was a new technology at the time. Craig Charles asks the public outside the house about their experiences and about any information about the area and the house.

Michael Parkinson interviews the family's parapsychologist, Dr. Pascoe, who tells him what she knows about the family's problem and provides evidence to support her claims. Mike Smith keeps everyone updated with the experiences and stories of the public phoning in.

Back at the house events are getting stranger. A wet patch has suddenly appeared in the middle of the carpet. Strange cat sounds are heard in the house and Suzanne becomes covered in scratches on the bed. Stories from outside the house get more strange with people mentioning that the area has always had trouble and that there are stories about a "baby farmer" called Mary Sneddons who lived in the area in the 19th century.

In the studio there are people calling in to say that strange occurences are happening in their homes while they are watching the broadcast. Events escalate into a shocking finale that rocked the British public. I'll not give the rest of the story away I'd rather you found that out for yourselves haha!

Stephen Volk states that he underestimated the effects the show would have on the public as they found it hard to differentiate between the live feel of the show and the dramatised aspect. Because of this there were a lot of angry people who believed they were misled. Stephen Volk has said it was never his intention to mislead the public and that some of the story was so dramatic, he never believed anyone would take it so seriously.

The show was inspired by the "Enfield Poltergeist", a remarkable true story about events that transpired on a London street in the seventies. If you would like to know more about it I have put a youtube clip on the bottom of the page.

The dvd is unfortunately out of print and is apparently either quite hard to buy or quite expensive. I imagine eBay would be your best bet or possibly a link online. There is currently a Ghostwatch twitter and facebook page online and there are plans for a retrospective documentary to possibly be released next year called "Ghostwatch: Behind the Curtains" and hopefully the show as well!

Anyone reading this blog from outside the UK, I'm not sure if you have ever heard of this show but I urge you to seek it out, I promise it will leave an impression.

Ghostwatch are also doing a live twitter screening for another British show that fooled the nation called "Alternative 3", on April 1st, 21:00 GMT. Simply join the twitter page, put on your copy of the show, and tweet about it! They also have a blog. The link is to the right of the page! Copies are selling very cheap on Amazon or you can watch it on Google player!

This is no April fool though they have pretended that the ghost "Pipes"
was going to be in ''The Simpsons"!

Thank you very much for reading. Please leave a comment if you have time or follow if you enjoyed the page!

I also would love some movie suggestions for the next post!

Until next time.

Michael :)

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

The Idiots (Idioterne) (Dogme #2)

Hi there!

I've been away for a couple of weeks because I've been a bit busy (though I've been updating the twitter page on the right of the page), but now it's business as usual haha!

Thanks to everyone who has checked out, joined and commented on the page. Keep the comments coming I do enjoy having a discussion about the films on the page, or anything else for that matter!

Also you may have noticed if you've been to the page before that there has been a few design changes here and there, especially the new title designed by my good friend M. Deary (who also has a blog at In time there should be a few more changes to the page hopefully.

Anyway, about the film.

"The Idiots" is a 1998 film by the always controversial Lars von Trier (Antichrist), made in compliance with the intentions set out in the Dogma '95 Manifesto. You may be wondering what the Dogma Manifesto is all about but first about the film.

The story basically revolves around a group of intellectuals residing in a large house, who set out to challenge peoples sensibilites and cause general anarchy by acting mentally retarded. The film begins as they recruit a lone diner called Karen while "spassing" in a restaurant. Once back at the house, Stoffer (the groups leader), tells Karen about his intentions. He plans to take on society or the "bourgeois" as he likes to call them, who he feels prohibit their intelligence and creativity, by provoking the public with their increasingly outrageous behaviour.

Stoffer feels that by acting as mentally retarded, he can play off the reactions of the general public and truly be creative and free to do as he likes. He also loves the idea of people with disabilities having total innocence and acting only by instinct. I think that he believes that they are the only ones who are truly free in the world.

After "spassing" out in a variety of different locations (at the swimming pool, a bar etc), and the famous orgy scene, the group slowly begins to dissolve. Two of the young members of the group begin to fall in love, only for the girls father to come to the house and take her away. Stoffer seems to be cracking under the pressure also as he struggles with trying to stall his Uncles sale of the house in which they are staying, and is fighting with his own agenda's. Simply "spassing" just won't work after a while as it only stalled his anger for a short while and he feels that he is the only one committed to his cause.

Stoffer challenges the group to go home and spass out in front of their friends and loved ones. After everyone backs out, Karen is the only one who goes through with his demands.

What happens after that I will leave for you to find out!

Lars von Trier wrote the film in four days. It is the second film in his Golden Heart Trilogy, between "Breaking The Waves" and "Dancer In The Dark". It has garnered a lot of controversy over the years with its taboo breaking story. I can understand why people would get upset with a film like this. It openly tries to provoke it's viewer and force a reaction. It can either be called a disgusting little film that takes pleasure in ridiculing people who cannot properly defend themselves, taking advantage of disability. Or it can be seen as razor sharp satire, at times guiltily funny. To me it has one clear message, it tells that life can be too serious for it's own good, and that people should not be so inhibited and find enjoyment in the simpler thing in life. And basically be yourself and don't give a damn about how others perceive you!

 Anyway, thats the message I got. I guess the film is open to a lot of interpretation haha!

The Dogma '95 Manifesto is a filmmaking movement started by Danish directors Lars von Trier and Thomas Vinterberg. The rules set forth also called the "Vow of Chastity" are:

  1. Filming must be done on location. Props and sets must not be brought in. If a particular prop is necessary for the story, a location must be chosen where this prop is to be found.
  2. The sound must never be produced apart from the images or vice versa. Music must not be used unless it occurs within the scene being filmed.
  3. The camera must be a hand-held camera. Any movement or immobility attainable in the hand is permitted. The film must not take place where the camera is standing; filming must take place where the action takes place.
  4. The film must be in colour. Special lighting is not acceptable (if there is too little light for exposure the scene must be cut or a single lamp be attached to the camera).
  5. Optical work and filters are forbidden.
  6. The film must not contain superficial action (murders, weapons, etc. must not occur.)
  7. Temporal and geographical alienation are forbidden (that is to say that the film takes place here and now).
  8. Genre movies are not acceptable.
  9. The film format must be Academy 35 mm.
  10. The director must not be credited.
The directors wanted to go in the complete opposite direction as where film was going with high budgets and production values. Also it helped unknown filmmakers who could get funding from the Government or tv stations to make a recognised film without having to go down the Hollywood route.

I hope you enjoyed my take on this controversial classic. Please leave comments and get a conversation going on or leave some criticism it's up to you. There is also a link to my twitter page to the right, I would love it if you could join and spread the word!

The next blog will be for "Ghostwatch". I'm not too sure how many people have watched this outside the UK but there are links on the internet for viewing it. There is also a blog for it and you'll find a link to the page on the right.

Thanks again for taking the time to read the page!