Mysterious and Ooky

QueenA couple of weeks ago Melissa S, she of the impeccable taste (especially in regard to TV — so impeccable, she won’t watch half the crap that I do), recommended a show called Most Haunted. I immediately searched and set a timer to DVR four episodes, because it sounded truly fabulous. Well, friends, Romans, it is.

Apparently this show has been on for a million seasons in England. I have absolutely no idea how long the Travel Channel has been running it, but I’m hoping long enough for there to be lots of reruns.

Basically, a kooky crew of ghost-hunters visits the grounds of England’s reputed "Most Haunted" sites for 24 hours of video-recorded hijinks. But that doesn’t really sum up the charm. To do that, we have to talk about the cast.

The star isn’t the windowshade-eyed "Guide"/Host Yvette Fielding, who always seems to be hearing something and has mastered the eyebrow raise, head cock that signals such. It’s not "Historian" Richard Felix, though he’s actually one of my favorites because he’s always terrified and way more credulous than he thinks he is. Or "Paranormal Investigator" Phil Whyman, who has really crunchy hair and scribbles constantly on a notepad when not waving his PKE meter about. (Crunchy hair is big on this show.) The production crew is also forced to participate and generally breaks down along the lines of two extremely skittish guys, the producer and the camera guy, and two very screamy girls, the make-up artist and another producer(?). They usually get the worst assignments of the evening, whatever that happens to be. But they’re not the stars either.

Nope, the real star is Derek Acorah, "Spiritualist Medium." Whenever Derek has to ask "Sam" for something and they flash the words "Sam is Derek’s link to the spirit world" or some such across the bottom of the screen, I am to delight. Also, in a fantasy television cross-over with Project Runway, I can imagine Michael Kors squinting at Derek and saying, "He just looks like a sad, old queen. He’s just saaaaad." He has a little diamond stud twinkle, twinkle little ghosting in his earlobe. Michael Caine would play him in the movie, but an oily Michael Caine.

The best thing is when he gets angry at an eeeeevil spirit or, as he likes to call them, "You filth!" Last night I watched an episode set in the Clerkenwell House of Detention. Usually, Derek is only the focus of about the first ten or fifteen minutes of the episode — the format runs along the lines of, tilty-eyes and paranormal boy chitter chatter about the place while stalking through it, carefully setting up the things that Derek will "read" from the environment when he enters it, completely free of any knowledge about its history. Then Derek enters and spins his magic. In this particular installment, the entire episode is spent with Derek going batshit Cruise-esque crazy insane. There was a ton of "You filth!"ing going on. You see, Derek had never encountered this particular kind of situation, one superevil spirt with two minor evil spirits, all of them threatening the women on the show with terrible things and screwing up his connection to Sam.

Sadly, we don’t get to know the really terrible things because they were "too graphic to air." Perhaps most hilariously, the show also bleeped the last name of the superevil guy because he still has eight living relatives. One thing was sure: Someone forgot to deliver Derek’s pre-show coke that night. 

I love this show, not least because I half-believe that some of the cast believe it.* A skeptical "paranormal investigator" gets to weigh in on the tape of the visit at the end; he usually chalks up anything overly strange to insect activity.  He comes across as afterthought silly, which is no doubt the intention.


My new secret dream is to have my own version of this show, on which I’d be the "Guide."  I want a flighty make-up artist who screams a lot. I want my own sad, old queen to spout drama as we walk through abandoned houses and graveyards and stuff. (Christopher can be notepad scribbly boy.) It just seems like such a fun job. A girl has to have her bullshit-filled dreams. Right?

See also:

The Wikipedia entry documenting one of Most Haunted’s own parapsychologist’s attacks on Derek’s truthiness;
James Randi on Derek and the kerfluffle

*Sam, clearly, is gaming the whole thing

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