Stephen: "A National Seance"
Ghostwatch really should be better remembered than reviewed but if anything it’s scarier, craftier, and smarter the second time around. Such a shame, as it may never be broadcast again.
It is easy to see why many viewers fell for it. Though some of the actors aren’t up to the job of ‘being real’, the presenters excel at playing themselves. The visuals are devilishly trick or treat, either slight of hand or heart-stopping glimpses of the supernatural.
What does amaze though, is that no-one saw through the over-the-top ending. ‘We’ve created a national seance?’ I mean, really!
Magicians say people don’t mind being tricked, so long as they have a chance to appreciate how clever the con was. Why not give the public another chance to see how ingenious Ghostwatch really was?
James: "Slow, but sure"
I watched Ghostwatch on a dark, wet night with a friend and two bottles of wine. We started off with the lights off. After half an hour, the lights were firmly back on, most of the wine was gone, and we were huddled together whimpering on the sofa.
Ghostwatch is deceptive. The first few minutes are convincingly tedious - the hilariously cheesy set with fake fireplace, the crushingly over-sensitive expert with lovely legs, and Michael Parkinson's "Why-am-I-taking-this-so-seriously?" expression.
Then it starts to get stranger and stranger, and you start to get truly, truly scared. Even though you know it's not real, you take it all the more seriously because it looks and behaves just like bland factual television.
The backstory is similarly compulsive and unsettling. It's not just a ghost - it's a very bad ghost whose cameo appearances are completely terrifying (you're never quite certain you have seen Pipes at any point, which is all the more frightening). By the end it's quite simply chilling. The one thing that lets it down is the hurricane which rushes through the studio - it's just a little bit too much.