TV Tuesdays: Ghostwatch

“A supernatural TV landmark” — SFX Magzine

America has Orson Welles’ infamous radio broadcast of War of the Worlds — and Britain has the equally scandalous TV special Ghostwatch. Broadcast only once by the BBC (on Halloween ‘92), this truly effective piece of televised hauntology hoaxed an entire nation to its terrified knees, causing the Beeb’s switchboards to light up with tens of thousands of frantic calls in a single night. What exactly caused everyone, from elderly pensioners to macho street toughs, to freak out? A newsmagazine-style scripted mockumentary, presented “live” but taped weeks earlier, on the topic of ghost hunting — which starts out very light-hearted, but as the program wears on, constricts its vice-like grip on the viewer by using shockingly realistic, proto-Blair Witch haunted-house spookery. From the casual banter between the on-air presenters (who include Red Dwarf star Craig Charles, and real-life BBC host Michael Parkinson), to the use of thermographic cameras in an on-the-spot news setting, every minutely planned detail sets the stage for Ghostwatch’s brilliant blending of the real and the contrived. See this 20th Anniversary screening only with trusted friends — for who knows, you might not make it out of the theater alive!

Watch Cinefamily’s original trailer for “Ghostwatch”!