FT’s very own couch potato, STU NEVILLE, casts an eye over the small screen’s current fortean offerings
In an attempt to find a new angle in paranormal TV, Help! My House Is Haunted hit upon the innovative idea of sending investigators into haunted locations and filming the results. The doughty team of world-renowned psychic Chris Fleming, truth-seeking Parisienne Sandy Lakdar (“Mah bod-y is mah first deetect-or!”) and tech expert Barri Ghai stroll about purposefully in classic British sites. There is tech, there are séances, there’s low-light and people going “Oh my God! What was that?” A breath of fresh air, in other words.
A spin-off materialised almost immediately: Celebrity Help! My House Is Haunted (Discovery). A 66 per cent different squad for this one, comprising “Dark arts specialist” Ian Lawman, psychologist and historian Jayne Harris, who occasionally describes herself in the third person, and Barri Ghai returning to wave his instruments about. These three roam the land ridding celebrities of troublesome spooks (as usual “celebrity” is a very loose term, at least three of them being of the reality/social media type of
These three roam the land ridding celebrities of their troublesome spooks
whom people over 25 have never heard). One of the others is property presenter and cockatoo in human form Martin Roberts, whose 17th century gaff in the Rhondda Valley has a smorgasbord of haunty stuff happening, none of which, presumably, constitutes period charm.
Before they even arrive, Ian is getting feelings of “energy” and once in the house he spots a “large lady with something cast iron in her hand”; more timorous souls would have taken this as a cue to move out of the way, but Lawman is undaunted, and soon sees a little boy running from the room (at least he has the right idea). Next it’s a grey lady with a flowing dress (cut to Jayne chatting with a local expert; yes, there’s a grey lady, but then there is in most places if you look hard enough). Poking around the bedroom, Lawman finds another child, coughing up blood. Luckily
Roberts isn’t with him or he’d be addressing the camera and suggesting adding an en-suite.
Barri chats with a builder who saw lights going on and off “when there was nobody else around” – unsure if that’s a dig at electricians – and then they all meet with Roberts himself, sit down in the lounge for a quick history lesson (a family lived there, which is apparently significant) and start playing around with recording equipment. In true EVP style they all hear it say “Martin”; they do the stick figures thing with a motion sensor; they set up the low-light CCTV… you know the rest.
They look at the tapes, listen to the noises and deduce that Martin can live in harmony with the phenomena and… well, that’s it. Martin waves them off while calculating how much a ghost adds to the resale value, and away they trundle to rescue another celeb. Innovative.