Well, I’ve already watched Ghosthunting with …the Dingles, McFly, Girls Aloud and the cast of I’m A Celebrity. So what the hell, I thought. I may as well complete the set.
All the famous people in Liverpool know each other apparantly. So Paul O’Grady’s ‘friends’ consisted of Natasha Hamilton from Atomic Mutton and on-screen Brookside couple Philip Olivier (Tinhead from Brookside) and Jennifer Ellison (Tinhead’s girlfriend Emily from Brookside, small, blonde, gets her tits out for lads’ mags).
This time they set off for Palermo on the Italian island of Sicily to find the ghosts. And – as usual - the amateur ghosthunters were accompanied by presenter/exec producer Yvette Fielding in her Scooby-Doo taxi.
Yvette Fielding is one of those hard-faced northern women who, in past decades, would have been photographed in black and white, her beefy forearms wrapped around a mangle and surrounded by jam-faced children in wellingtons. These days she has her own production company, faking hauntings for gullible idiots like me. I guess that’s progress of sorts.
Sitting in the back of the taxi watching everything on the TV monitors and commenting on proceedings was body-language expert and Mr Potato-head look-alike Dr Geoffrey Beattie. Like Cybil Fawlty, Geoffrey’s specialised subject is stating the bleedin’ obvious.
So Geoff helpfully informed us, ‘We can expect a lot of fear responses, people vocalising their fears and indicating as much with their body language and so on.’ How else might they indicate their fear Geoffrey? Through the medium of contemporary dance, perhaps? I obviously missed that scene in The Exorcist where Father Karras leaps around Regan’s bedroom in some hotpants with the arse cut out, to the accompaniment of white-noise and bongo drums.
As usual, they visited various ‘haunted’ sites around Palermo and Yvette primed them by whispering a spooky ghost story and then tossing them into the pitch black corridors with just their little handicams and their own screams for company.
Pram-face Natasha turned out to be fairly level-headed. It was Ellison who was the pain in the arse. Left alone in the dark of a 14th century oubliette (a hole they chucked people into) she was fine. But as soon as she had an audience she was shrieking like a scouse banshee. Never have we been more in need of Harry Enfield’s scouse gits to turn up and tell her to ‘caaalm down’.
I guess that’s why I enjoy these shows though. Some damsels in distress. Some young alpha-males trying to walk with a modicum of dignity across a haunted ballroom, without shrieking like a girl and shitting themselves – my own favoured option in similar circumstances, and Yvette bullying everyone in the name of psychic research and bigger ratings.
‘I’m just going to leave you here in this dark room with that ghost I told you about. On your own. For a week. With three mental patients, some victorian dollies and this bucket of LSD. See how you go. Alright?’
The climax of the show was in the Capuchin catacombs in Palermo where, as is tradition, people were mummified and left standing in the open. So we were treated to the gruesome spectacle of hundreds of bodies lining the walls in various states of decay.
At this point it struck me for the first time that these were real people and the fun of the whole thing started to wear off. To their credit, O’Grady and friends obviously felt the same way and they showed a lot of genuine compassion for the corpses – particularly a little three-year-old girl who had been entombed in a glass coffin and was almost perfectly preserved. It was truly grotesque and the only real horror was how anyone could film this as cheap entertainment and expect us to go along with it.
Yvette’s evil plan to freak the shit out of them had obviously backfired. She tried to get a seance going and talk the whole thing up. But O’Grady wasn’t playing. Even wee Jennifer wasn’t playing. None of them were playing. Quite fucking right. Good on the Scousers.
I’m a sucker for all this ghost stuff. And so long as you take it as pure entertainment rather than anything remotely scientific, and so long as they have engaging guests, it’s an enjoyable show. Just don’t show us the bodies Yvette. That’s not scary. It’s just sick. Come back when you’ve learned to tell the difference.
WWM DVD EXTRA:
This show is a spin-off from the popular Most Haunted franchise which is worth it alone, just for bringing us this priceless clip of famously exposed fraud psychic Derek Acorah.
Whisper it softly to yourself three times before you go to bed tonight, ‘Mary loves Dick …’