Michael Parkinson spent the show in a studio and presented it in a similar way to Crimewatch or Children In Need. He invited the public to call in and share their Ghost stories and they did. It was, of course, pre-recorded and we heard stories of similar ghosts to pipes from all over the country. All of which started to make the events seem more real.
One moment which had an impact was when one of the callers said they had seen a figure in a previous scene. They showed a “replay” of that scene and analysed it, you could just make out a shadowy figure in the background. The very clever thing though was that when they replayed it a second time the figure wasn’t there anymore.
In actual fact, there are at least eight different occasions when Pipes appears on screen but only in a flash. This subliminal form of terror did the trick. We certainly remember seeing one or two of them at the time and asking ourselves if we really had just seen it.
He went through evidence that the family had sent in and viewed “expert” analysis. Being such a trusted face on TV just added to the authenticity.
A tragic end
As the haunting intensified it got darker and darker as Pipes began to possess the children, telling nursery rhymes in a demonic voice. Light bulbs began to explode and eventually he took control of the cameras.
We saw Police and Ambulances arriving at the scene as Sarah Greene, determined to investigate, followed sounds into the cupboard under the stairs. When it was opened it was filled with mist and she went in as the door slammed behind her and the cameras cut out as Pipes shouted.
The final scene saw Parkinson in the studio which was now deserted. He was trying to remain professional and report on the goings on but the studio lights were bursting and the cameras there had been possessed as well. It finished with him injured and lurching toward the camera, telling us that Pipes was now in control.
Fear comes home
Whilst the call centre in the show may have been fake the real-life BBC call centre was alive and kicking. They received over 20,000 complaints from people having to deal with terrified children and adults alike. Some actually tried to claim that it was Satanic and that they had actually summoned the Devil with their evil programme.
The aftermath was so huge in fact that the BBC buried it for years and it would be ten years until it was allowed to be discussed again.
It is a testament to the quality of the production that even to this day we got genuine Goosebumps just writing this. Remembering the show we got little flashes that came back to us and that fear was instant again.
Of course, we knew it was a hoax but deep down we couldn’t help but question its authenticity, it’s in our nature to be scared by the unknown and this was uncharted territory.
Ghostwatch remains one of the scariest shows ever committed to the camera, not bad for a BBC Halloween special and one we’ll doubtfully ever see again that can collectively scare a nation like Ghostwatch did…and still does!
Do you remember Ghostwatch? Which moments scared you the most? Why not tell us in the comments and don’t forget to share this one and discuss it with your friends and family.