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Paranormal BBC show will never be aired again because it scared viewers too much

Paranormal BBC show will never be aired again because it scared viewers too much

Michael Parkinson hosted the still-banned 1992 mockumentary

Though the spooky season is sadly drawing to a close, it doesn't mean that you can't scare yourself from time to time.

And paranormal fans might recall a BBC show being banned in the 1990s for scaring its viewers a bit too well.

The TV mockumentary special, Ghostwatch, aired on Halloween night in 1992 and was subsequently cancelled due to the extreme horror it inflicted, has since been doing the rounds on TikTok however, with users reminiscing on just how terrified they truly were.

The spine-tingling show portrayed a fake investigation into supernatural activity in a family home, showing viewers terrifying 'home footage' of a family being terrorised by a ghost.

Presented in the style of a live news report, the show even featured well-known news presenters, such as Michael Parkinson. to make it more believable.

And viewers at the time were genuinely scared - with the programme attracting tens of thousands of complaints in one night.

Clips of Ghostwatch have been doing the rounds on social media.
BBC

Some people were so convinced that what they were watching was real that the BBC switchboard received around 30,000 calls in just one hour – a number that then was topped up by angry parents ringing in to say that it had scared their children.

The controversy meant the show was never shown on UK TV again, and it has since only been available since on VHS/DVD and in the BBC Store.

A clip from the programme was recently shared on TikTok, where many users remembered the horror of watching it in the 90s.

One commented: “It frightened so many people thinking it was real. It was shown on Halloween. It frightened me too. No wonder it was banned.”

Another said: “I remember watching this in the 90s. I was so scared. Sarah Greene was part presenting it. It was a hoax though. Still scary.”

A third wrote: “I remember watching this n didn’t sleep for days.”

And a fourth added: “This terrified me...and I was 21 when it first aired! Would love to watch it again.”

It provoked such a reaction that it was blamed for giving children post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and even for the death of a young man.

The family in Ghostwatch was haunted by 'Pipes'.
BBC

Martin Denham, an 18-year-old factory worker with learning difficulties, tragically killed himself five days after the show aired, having become convinced there were ghosts in his own home.

Denham's parents argued that the show caused their son's death and made a complaint to the Broadcasting Standards Commission (BSC).

Martin’s stepfather Percy Denham told the BBC in 2017: "He seemed a bit upset because things were happening at that time in the house that had been happening [on Ghostwatch]. The pipes were banging.”

Mother April Denham added: "He seemed entranced with the talk of ghosts.”

Michael Parkinson left the country terrified back in 1992.
BBC

The BSC eventually ruled that Ghostwatch was excessively distressing and graphic, and not enough had been done to make clear that it was fiction and unsuitable for children to watch.

The BBC admitted in the same article how the aftermath of the show ‘meant the BBC distanced itself from Ghostwatch’, with Volk adding: "I think if the BBC had maybe not shut it down so completely, there might have been an attempt to have a conversation about it."

A 1994 report in the British Medical Journal also detailed two cases of children suffering from temporary post-traumatic stress in the wake of the show.

Featured Image Credit: Credit: BBC

Topics: Halloween, BBC, TV and Film