Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Knock Twice for ‘Yes’

Knock Twice for ‘Yes’

Strange goings on at Living TVs cult spook-fest Most Haunted, where the knives are out for so-called spiritualist medium Derek Acorah.

Convinced that Derek (real name Johnson, fact fans) might be making it up as he goes along, a mole on the Most Haunted team has been "accidentally" feeding Acorah little snippets of history from the locations they are filming. Except Moley's lying through his teeth, and poor, poor Derek has fallen for it hook, line and sinker.

According to my new friends at Bad Psychics, episodes in the latest series have featured Derek and his invisible friend Sam coming into conversation with characters straight off the top of our Mole's head.

Like, for example Rik Eedles (an anagram of Derek Lies) and Kreed Kafer (Derek Faker), an improbable South African criminal hanged at Bodmin Jail, which somehow got through the editing process and onto the screen. There are rumoured to be more, it’s all a matter of whether they get past the editors at Living.

In fact, Derek not only had a chat with the not-deceased-because-he-never-existed Mr Kafer, but he went for the whole possessed by evil spirits bit, complete with funny faces and cod Scouse/South African accent. He's great at what he does, even if it's acting.

“Mary loves Dick!” Derek screamed during a recently released clip of a possession. “MARY LOVES DICK!” Good God, even Mr Sceptic here was sold on that particular double entendre. So was the crew, right up to the moment they said “Cut”. Then, with the camera still rolling, there was general hysterics and the question “Does Derek win the twenty pounds?” Of course he does, and the viewer can only think the worst of the people he has given his trust. And why, we ask, did the finished broadcast have a night “night vision” tint to it, when it was taped during the day? All authenticity the team had demolished with one three minute clip.

Of course, the team are always out there, hearing bumps in the night and filming little dots of light which may or may not be orbs long after Derek's returned to his hotel. But then, if you stick a dozen people in a small room inside an old building in the dead of night, and you're going to raise some dust and hear the building creak, especially if the cleaners haven’t been around for a few days.

The last couple of series has been all table tipping, bells and whistles and all those Victorian parlour games made popular by the kind of mediums the late Harry Houdini made it his life’s work to discredit. At one stage, they were sitting round a table, ringing a little bell to attract the dead in an effort to recreate “an authentic Victorian séance”. The ones where the medium would kick a chair over, shout in strange tongues will an assistant would creep around in the dark touching people on the neck. Then the fridge door swung open and “Zuuuuuuul!” Or not. It beggars belief that they’re passing this off as some sort of serious investigation.

So, is Most Haunted faked? And does it matter? In the whole scheme of things, MH should be viewed as nothing but a hokey bit of entertainment, which it is, even if they make half of it up as they go along. On the other hand, the mediums on the programme make a rather good living touring the theatres of this country and beyond getting in touch with the dearly departed for the benefit of a paying audience. Mr Acorah currently charges around seventeen pounds for a night in his company. Some might say he is using his position as the star of a cult TV show to fill larger venues, and here lies the rub.

There is a little-used law that is still on the statutes known as the Fraudulent Mediums Act, that some would say Mr Acorah and others are breaking. However, you can imagine that the police have far more important things to do, like catching murderers and hassling the webmasters of village websites, so an investigation may be a long time coming. The history of spiritualism and psychic reading is dogged by controversy, and anyone can get themselves a decent bit of publicity and a large house fronting the River Thames by bending a few spoons these days. There are so many frauds out there, if the genuine article ever appeared, I doubt if anyone would notice.

There’s also the bonus of “ghost tourism” that an appearance on MH engenders for each venue. The publicity must have the punters pouring in, on the off chance that someone might get taken over by something from Derek’s imagination. Derby Gaol, for instance, a number one tourist attraction on the ghostly circuit, and visited no less than twice by the MH team. Derby Gaol is owned by Richard Felix, one of the Most Haunted team.

It appears that MH could well be on its last legs, if stories of a soured relationship between Living TV, Antix Productions (that’s Yvette Fielding and hubby, to you) and Mr Acorah are anything to go by. What started off as a fascinating delve into the secret world of ghost-hunting has become a parody of itself, sinking into a mire of its own making. Shame, that.

More: Most Haunted Exposed, Double Exposure

"Hey fans, at least I'm still genuine!"
Uri Geller: Twat

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