This October has seen the launch of several new kids on the block in terms of U.K Paranormal T.V programmes. Project Paranormal launch the first of their ghost hunting documentaries on Sky 212 on 29th October, The Paranormal Misfits on Sky 121, Celebrity Haunted Hotel on W channel and Hauntings of England, as well as the return of veteran ghost hunters, Most Haunted Live.
As a writer and lover of all things spooky, I am in my element and have ordered a stock of wood for my fire, planning my dark evenings snuggled up in front of my TV, and I can’t think of better entertainment. However, it seems not everyone is happy with the new ventures in fact, there has been several angry posts on social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook, with many paranormal groups slating certain TV shows as an “insult to the field” and accusing shows with celebrity guests such as Celebrity Haunted Hotel, of being offensive to those serious about paranormal research and belittling their research by trivialising the whole concept of “ghost hunting”.
Undoubtedly there is a vast contrast between those types of TV show and documentaries which will see some incredibly experienced teams such as Project Paranormal, who’s highly knowledgeable team undoubtedly have invested a great deal of time, effort and money into producing a very serious investigation series. I have high hopes that their viewers will not only witness some fascinating proof of the afterlife but also that this show will do a great deal to promote the field and encourage the evolution of scientific based evidence. Understandably this incredible amount of research cannot be compared to frivolous entertainment shows intended to be light hearted.
Anyone with an interest or special talent will inevitably agree that someone somewhere will make a TV programme about it. You can guarantee, if there is enough interest to generate viewing figures then there will be a movie, chat show, documentary or gameshow based on this interest. Singing, Dancing, Cooking, Sports, Cars, Fashion and Pets to name but a few entertainment programmes you can find on many channels. Take X Factor as one example of a celebrity based TV show, its basic ingredients of the music industry’s most successful celebrities and members of the public new to the field and trying to get a record deal.
Simon Cowell has been accused many times of making a mockery of the music industry with his show and many an angry record producer or outspoken musician has slated the programmes integrity. But is this fair? Certainly, Simon Cowell isn’t paying any attention to the haters as he laughs his way to the bank on pay day, but if you do watch the show, does it make you any less serious about music if you are in the field? Are you less of a “pop star” if you have participated in X Factor and gone on to sell £6,000, 000 records? Are you less worthy of receiving your Brit Award? Some people would say so it seems!
Do chefs admit to watching Bake Off or Celebrity MasterChef? I wonder, do dancers admit to watching Strictly or Dance Moms? The common element these shows all have is the professional teaching the amateur. It’s an irresistible combination. Olympic gold medallist Tom Daley coaching Jo Brand how to dive. Ice Skating legends Torvill and Dean and that moment when Tod Carty went skating off the rink arms flailing, all pure TV Gold. Nobody should question the passion the “experts” in these shows have for their chosen field, and that includes the paranormal investigators chosen for Celebrity Haunted Hotel. Chosen for their proven dedication to the field and ability to purvey their knowledge in front of a live TV camera. (not for the faint hearted) and certain skills are needed to do this. I am full of admiration for the team, they represent our passion for the paranormal to a nation of couch potatoes, most of whom have never been on an investigation, yet who take to Twitter, scoffing at their futile attempts to persuade comedians and soap stars alike to take part in their investigations, all in the name of entertainment.
Entertainment means Performing. Acting. Theatre. Showbiz, Amusement and Fun. It’s an activity done for amusement hobby and leisure. Is a category that is all. TV has a vast amount of entertainment and I don’t see why Ghost Hunting cannot be a part of this world. On the other side of TV, we have news programmes, powerful documentaries and movies that tell life stories, provoking deep emotions and historic events. There are even combinations of these categories, as magazine programmes report world events and tell human interest stories, and enlighten us about many topics such as advancements in medicine and life changing inventions before moving onto a cookery slot or celebrity interview. Comedy marathons in the name of charity have you laughing one minute before hitting you with an emotional appeal for money the next. It works.
Why then, is it a “guilty pleasure” for a ghost hunter to watch Most Haunted or Celebrity Haunted Hotel? It’s something I will never understand, as I love anything supernatural. Yes, I do take my investigations very seriously as anyone who knows me or reads my work will know. Other times I want to stay indoors and watch Insidious, knowing full well it is acting. Occasionally I want to tune into a live web stream on Facebook to watch others do a real-time investigation and sometimes I just want to be entertained and see a celebrity try their hand at something I do on a regular basis, making a fool of themselves but it makes me smile! It’s the difference between me going to an a la cart restaurant for a meal or ordering a pizza. The same way I don’t go to the theatre to watch the Christmas Panto with my kids and expect to hear Shakespeare being quoted.
Television is a powerful component that is our link to an unbelievable expanse of entertainment. You can choose to read a book about your chosen subject of course, but with T.V we can relate to situations by facial expressions, sounds, tone of voice. Who has not cried at a powerful drama? Who has not recorded a documentary about a medical condition that they wish to show their partner? You could just buy a book? But with television, we meet real people who bring all these influential elements into our homes, at times when we are vulnerable, relaxing or tense after a hard day, we allow the screen to direct our thoughts and opinions and allow them to overspill into our other worlds.
Friends have been falling out over their viewing choices on Facebook this week, and people feel they need to defend or hide the TV choices that they make for fear of retribution or ridicule from others? This is where it gets silly. Our choices of Paranormal TV are purely based on our need to be entertained or educated whichever mood we may be in and therefore I think there is room for all types without the need for anyone to criticise. If you don’t enjoy it, switch it off or turn over, but respect that others can tune in and enjoy the show without this meaning they are any less serious or passionate about the field than you for doing so.
I’m off to buy more popcorn – whatever your TV choices this October enjoy it and good luck to all those individuals flying the flag for the U.K on our screens!!