Ghosts. On TV. Real ones. Possibly.

Shown on the UK's Living TV cable TV channel, this half-hour show is the brainchild of ex-Blue Peter presenter Yvette Fielding.

The premise is a simple one - Yvette and her crew (most of whom also appear on camera in ghost-hunting mode) spend 24 hours in one of the UK's many haunted buildings. Also along for the ride are the camp parapsychologist Jason Karl and the equally-camp Liverpudlian spiritualist medium Derek Acorah.

The first half of the programme is typically preamble, with some history of the building and interviews with building owners about the paranormal goings-on. This is usually pretty dull and only enlivened by moody shots of Yvette in a long black leather trenchcoat stalking through dry ice fumes like she has some kind of complex.

In the next half, the crew switch off the lights and proceed to wander around with night vision digital camcorders. Then, one of two things happen. Sometimes, we're treated to lots of footage of green faces peering into the darkness and dialogue along the lines of "What was that?" "Me." "Oh.". These non-events do at least lend a certain amount of authenticity to the programme, even if they make for dull viewing.

At other times, however, some genuinely spooky things are caught on tape and these usually begin with Derek channeling some of the resident spirits, much to the obvious horror of Yvette. Despite not (we're told) having any prior information about the place he's at, Derek is usually pretty accurate with his information, which makes you wonder how he does it.

Orbs are also captured on tape with some regularity but never with enough clarity to reveal whether they're really some kind of ethereal manifestation or simply a side-effect of the cameras' infra-red beams as they encounter stray moths . Sometimes, other strange things happen - doors suddenly open or close, strange noises are heard, motion detectors are tripped and perhaps least convincingly, the crew witness (but don't film) strange apparitions and suddenly experience unusual emotional states, resulting in some novel video footage.

Perhaps one of the most compelling pieces of footage was filmed in Derby Gaol. A cross was placed upon a piece of paper, onto which its outline had been traced. This was then left in a locked cell with a camcorder pointed at it and left running. Later in the evening, not only had the cross moved but the camcorder had caught the paper lifting and rolling in a most peculiar way, before being firmly yanked. Unfortunately, the camera was positioned in just such a way that the yanker was off-camera, leaving the footage open to interpretation and Yvette to gaze thoughtfully at the viewers.

An odd cult present on the UK television channel Living TV, whose commitment to highbrow upper class programmes and Reithian standards can't be doubted after their previous upmarket success, Queer Eye For The Straight Guy. Its viewership is small but dedicated, mostly consisting of Living TV's target market of thirtysomething women.

Most Haunted cashes in on the general punter's sudden belief in paranormal bollocks, as dictated by market forces. Having run out of reality TV ideas (or at the very least, original ones that don't involve the contestants getting shitfaced for the sake of entertainment; cf Big Brother) Living instead opted to screen people with infrared cameras talking crap and along the way creating a roving band of lunatics who defend the show fervently, despite there being no scientific basis or indeed reason for anything occurring, Oops, not so different from Big Brother after all, then.

Along the way, Living bring in the "expert" Derek Acorah. Derek's job is to come into a room and comment on the "mystical energies" in it: methinks these "mystical energies" are coming from the "mystical Living TV executive" who is poking his arse with a "mystical electric cattleprod" until he says something convincingly mystical enough to keep the masses going "ooh, aah". He is greeted as if he is the next messiah, with (on the live shows, which I'll come onto soon) booming voices saying "STAND ASIDE, DEREK ACORAH IS ENTERING THE BUILDING", giving him far, far more importance than he deserves. After talking about the "energies", he moves onto giving a description of the place at hand, be it castle, church or nightclub. This is so obviously scripted that it makes all sane people cringe, but again makes the sheep go on as if he's the second coming of Christ. Derek is accompanied by two mad women, who go on as if everything is a sign of the apocalypse, and often scream and duck for absolutely no reason whatsoever, ostensibly because they've seen a ghost. To be fair, the special effects are very realistic and the bloke throwing spoons around just out of shot to give the impression of spiritual activity must be very talented and have excellent self control to avoid "accidentally" throwing what is essentially a lump of metal at Acorah's head, like so many wish to do.

The fans of the show are like Linux zealots on Slashdot, only far worse and less likely to listen to reason. Apparently, everybody who takes Most Haunted for what it is-a poorly conceived ratings grab based around pisspoor efforts to make a bloke with some paper on string look paranormal, and some git who sees everything as mystical and energised-is a "skeptic" (oh, no, perish the thought), who is stuck in the old fashioned days of the sun going round the Earth, God creating the world in seven days and witch-burnings. Incidentally, these are the same people who chastise me for watching CNN because "it's American" and "crap". Double standards? Naah. Any criticism of Most Haunted leads to a torrent of scientifically explicable (specifically through a simple demonstration involving chucking household objects around) "paranormal events" that inexplicably and purely by chance happened when the camera crew, Acorah and friends were there being belted at you, apparently as proof that the makers of the programme aren't just capitalist scumfucks looking to make a quick buck by luring in gullible members of the public.

Every so often, the Most Haunted team put out live shows, where they set up a webcam somewhere and ask viewers to email in when they see something. Ostensibly, this is also to provide "proof"-I personally think it's so they can test their cameras, and that the "moving objects" are just people throwing things around so gullible viewers can spot them and email in, and so prove that the camera is working. But that's just me and my tin foil hat talking. One of the greatest things was when they set up a tunneling camera that could drill through walls, and so they set it to go through a short passageway. Eventually, it reached a wall and took a significant percentage of the programme, during which it was mooted that we would find an ancient tomb full of historical treasures, to drill through it and find the astonishing artifact of bugger all.

So there you have it. A new TV programme, designed to fleece the gullible and create zealots. I'm quite sure that even ITV in their present state would run away screaming if presented this idea, as even they have a limits on how much they can make a mockery of the intelligence of their viewers, and the BBC has it's public service charter, which I'm sure has the words in it somewhere "never make fucking awful ghost programmes and treat your loyal audience like dumbarses". Only on the relatively deregulated world of cable TV could this turd floating in the clean television lake ever find its way out of the Flextech sewage discharge pipe. And for that, I am eternally grateful.
And you know the worst bit? I'm missing The Vicar Of Dibley for this. Stupid Living. Utter bastards, they are.

Also, to whoever softlinked Mass got it in one...

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