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Most Haunted was something of a phenomenon in itself when it came about on Living TV all of those years ago so with the DVD''s out there now it is no longer on TV is it still as good?
The show sees Yvette Fielding and psychic medium Derek Acorah joined by a number of crew members as they visit some of the UK''s most paranormal sites to see if they can get to the bottom of what is going on and to see if they can find out if there is life after death.
The series takes the form of investigations where Derek Acorah and Yvette Fielding walk around a haunted location with their crew for Derek to see if he can sense anything in the environment which leads to him coming up with many names, things that have happened and even sometimes leading to him having "possessions" where the entity is taking over him.
I loved Most Haunted when it was on the TV and was worried that after all of the years that have passed and the controversies around Most Haunted before and after its demise this may ruin those memories but I am delighted to say that I still love the show. The investigations are interesting and as long as you are being open minded rather than not believing anything or believing everything then you will be able to take from the shows what you wish to. The fact is that things are put on television to entertain and Most Haunted always managed to do that so being able to sit with my wife and watch as Yvette and the team freak out at bangs when nobody is there making them is great to see and leads to lively debate. Overall one of those shows I love and a DVD I recommend as now the show is off the TV it is something you can look back on with nostalgia whilst still being entertained.
Most Haunted was (I think it's ended now but I'm not completely sure) a supernatural investigation series that ran on Living TV. If you've ever owned a freeview box then you've probably stumbled across this series at some point in your life. I gave up on Most Haunted in the end because it became incredibly overblown and silly and full of itself but it was quite good at the start when each episode was only half an hour and they were still relatively restrained in terms of throwing spoons at each in the dark or something and pretending a (always conviently off camera) ghost had been the culprit. The basic premise of Most Haunted is of course great fun and possibly swiped from that infamous 1992 BBC Halloween hoax documentary/drama Ghostwatch. Each week former Blue Peter presenter Yvette Fielding and a team (including, most notably, the brazenly fraudulent "medium" Derek Acorah) visit a reputedly haunted location somewhere in the British Isles (castles, inns, stately homes etc) and stay there with their night vision cameras to see if anything spooky happens that can be captured on film or picked up with listening devices. Series One is from 2002 and spread over 5 discs in this set. The fact that these early episodes are shorter is a plus as they aren't padded out with too much nonsense and don't outstay their welcome. The Live Most Haunted Specials they did later on were fairly tedious at times if I remember with all the advert breaks and constant cuts back to a studio and whooping audience. Out of about 3 hours you were lucky to get 25 minutes of anyone actually in a haunted location!
It's noticeable that in this first series there are shows where nothing much seems to happen at all - which gives it a teensy bit more credibility as far these things go. Most Haunted soon became completely ridiculous with abundant fakery and Derek Acorah being possessed each week by some evil spirit or other. I always admire the front of Derek Acorah when he pretends to be possessed. He's such a TERRIBLE actor too. Derek has a Native American spirit guide called "Sam" who he frequently consults during the show. Is Derek really psychic and does Sam actually exist to banter with him from some distant astral plane? Call me Mr Cynical but I'd say the odds are probably against it! One thing I like about this first series is that the main ghost expert who accompanies Yvette Fielding and frequently pipes up with his own two pence on the spectral (or not) proceedings is some camp Parapsychologist bloke with a fake tan called Jason Karl. He (sadly) seemed to disappear after only one series but he seems to take this ghost hunting malarkey very seriously and you'd imagine he would have had a low tolerance of the highly faked antics of later years. There are a few moments here where he douses cold water on someone trying to make too much of some incident and he's a good counterweight to the more dubious members of the Most Haunted team. The one to be trusted the least here is Fielding's husband Karl Beattie. Beattie is the producer and appears frequently in the investigations and he's absolutely shameless in constantly pretending that he's been prodded by unseen hands in the dark or seen something spooky.
There are seventeen different locations to be visited in this particular series. All are in the United Kingdom apart from two trips to the Republic of Ireland (Charleville Forest Castle and Leap Castle). My favourite episode here might be the one where they visit Aldwych Underground Station. This was used as an air raid shelter during the Luftwaffe's Blitz on London and built where an old theatre was demolished. It's said to have one or two ghosts lurking around down there so the team don 1940s army uniforms and wander around (they take the uniforms off obviously and change into more appropriate clobber for wandering around tube lines). It makes a change from the haunted mansions and castles and does look like a very spooky and atmospheric place devoid of people and trains. Underground stations are weird enough when they are busy so one would imagine they are very eerie indeed bereft of noise and people. Derek speaks to a dead woman named Maggie (yes, ok Derek!) and they take a walk through one of the pitch black tunnels. Another episode that is a bit different is the one where they visit Blackpool Pleasure Beach. The story goes that the ghost train is haunted by a spook named "Mr Glogs" and they hear strange footsteps when they take a walk through the tunnel. Perhaps the scariest location though is Derby Gaol, a very grim abandoned prison they spend the night in. Everyone smells roses and they capture a few "orbs" on camera.
These orb shenanigans are a bit risible. In practically every episode they capture a little speck of white light floating through a dark room on their night vision cameras and they always tell us that orbs are the first stage of a ghost manifestation. None of these so called orbs ever turn into a ghost though - most probably because they are specks of dust! Other memorable locations here are The Mermaid Inn in East Sussex where Derek encounters a (gasp!) bearded spirit, and Levens Hall, a place that sits on the edge of the Lake District and dates back to 1320. These places are fun to visit even if you do doubt that anything paranormal is actually going on. A factor that goes slightly against Most Haunted for me now is an American series in the same vein called Ghost Hunters. Ghost Hunters is not as slick (or as charming because the United States lacks the olde worldy ghostly haunts of Britain) as Most Haunted but the investigators seem much more on the level. One thing I like in particular about this first series of Most Haunted though is that the intro pieces are a bit arty with huge backlighting and the visual style generally seems more artificial - but in a good way. It all went a bit too Blair Witch in the end.
Most Haunted, I think, was generally a great concept and idea that ultimately disappeared up its own metaphorical black hole but it was good at the start. Despite my general jesting of Most Haunted I had a lot of fun watching these early ones again recently and would certainly recommend this first series to anyone who is partial to some ghost or mystery capers. At the time of writing you can buy this new for around a tenner.