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Denbigh Hospital and what price entertainment?

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Nick - Web Team Nick - Web Team | 09:13 UK time, Sunday, 26 October 2008

Most Haunted presenter Paul Ross told the audience gathered to watch the opening of the paranormal programme's controversial seven night show live from Denbigh Hospital that they would be sensitive to people's feelings.

After all, in the '90s this was still a working mental hospital, a home to patients and place of work to the staff who cared for them.

But what with talk of planned vigils including people in padded cells and strait-jackets, his words might prove to be empty and locals had started to call the programme bad taste before it even went on air [BBC Local: Will patients be turning in their graves? | 'Damned' TV show under fire | Daily Post: Show blasted as tasteless | Your comments: Helencard and Hydra]

So last night a couple of us went along to see for ourselves.

As 200 or so people queued in the long, dark and damp corridor of the catering area [photo: kitchen staff in 1950 pictured where we queued], the rain came in through the roof and ran along the old electric wiring and formed puddles were we stood watching our breath rise.

A simple wall mounted light box conveyed to us the size of this amazing building, a bank of broken red bulbs and names of ward [photo: typical ward and staff] which once lit up when meals were ready. Even staff in the 'Tailors' Room' had their food prepared for them.

We were ushered into the atmospheric ballroom [photo: recent | Christmas 1935] along more dimly-lit corridors of debris, broken windows and taped-off doorways.

Denbigh Hospital - Ballroom

As we entered this once grand room, a rotten collapsing stage in front of us, first we were struck by the peeling walls and then, looking harder, we could see the sketches of entities supposedly in the hospital which had been drawn earlier by Most Haunted's psychic artist Brian.

Enter stage left presenter Paul Ross, as warm and funny off air as he was on. And that's what this was - a stage-managed show.

In the middle of the audience, Yvette [chatty and friendly off air] and her gang of sceptics and mediums gathered around an ouija board on a glass mounted see through table - as if that was to make the 'experiment' authentic.

Before going on air, she stood to chant a Tibetan verse and use a vibration 'singing' bowl - apparently to summon the spirits - as the floor manager interrupted '5 seconds to on-air'. Clearly, she believed in what they were doing.

But as psychic Brian began to hear from 16th century spirit Belle, and told the audience there were 92 other spirits in the room with us, the stage manager piped up again, 'off-air every body'.

And with that the group broke the cirlce around the ouija board without a 'by-your-leave' to the assembled ghosts to move on to the next location. Do spirits of the departed have feelings too?

This is at the heart of the concern of locals; That entertainment should not be at the expense of others, be it the memory of the dead or the feelings of the ones they leave behind.

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