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Paranormal TV


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Ian Topham's picture
Ian Topham
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There have been many television programmes about the paranormal, folklore and legends over the years.  Which have you liked the best and why?  Which do you consider to be rather poor and what would you like to see on the TV?

Agricola's picture
Agricola
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Couple stand out for me. The

Couple stand out for me. The first one I remember seeing was the Arthur C Clarke series - probably World of Strange Powers. My parents had the book and I found the whole thing creepy. Remember watching it one lunchtime absolutly caking myself at the story of the German solictor's secretary who walked under lights and they started swinging violently. Even then when I was about 5 or 6, I was desperate to know if it still happened, and why didn't they film it happening!

The other programme was Stephen Volks Ghostwatch! That really freaked me out, even though I knew it must have been a fake. But then, I kept thinking at the time, if it's a fake, why have they wheeled out Parky!

Michael Aspel use to rpesent a series which I seem to recall was fairly interesting and diverse.

Nothing worse, after many years of para TV shows, than having the same old stories cropping up with nothing new to say!

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Ian Topham
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Agricola wrote: Michael
Agricola wrote:

Michael Aspel use to pesent a series which I seem to recall was fairly interesting and diverse.

This was Strange But True.  I liked it.  You'd have interviewed witness testimonies and recreations or experiences.  I was filmed for the show but was edited out.  I'm not bitter!  I'm not bitter really!  I hardly ever give it a thought now.  What really suprised me was that they wanted me to change my interview to miss out details I considered to be very important to the experience.  It makes me wonder how much they edited the accounts of other witnesses and hence how much reliance I would put on the shows content.  I'm not bitter though!!!

Mysteryshopper
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I can't say I've ever seen a

I can't say I've ever seen a good 'factual' (well supposedly non-fiction) TV programme. Some fictional programmes have been quite amusing though I can't remember one that stands out.

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Ian Topham
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What do you think of the

What do you think of the style of Tony Robinsons programmes on the Paranormal?  I think the third one is on tomorrow at 9.00pm, C4. 

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Agricola
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The reincarnation one is

The reincarnation one is tonight, last night was Glastonbury/automatic writinc. Didn't see any previous ones.

The one on Glastonbury was a look at Bligh Bond's work at Glastonbury Abbey and his use of automatic writing to contact former residents of the Abbey and then match up their claims, made through the writing, with Bond's discoveries and excavations.

The Bond story is a relatively unknown one and I must admit I was quite looking forward to the programme which I was expecting to explore many of the claims made by Bond, and then re-examine the archaeological and then attempt to conclude if Bond was contacting the other side in order to find out if there was any truth in his investigations or whether his archaeological results was the result of lucky digging.

However, the programme was quite different. Starting with a very brief overview of what Bond was doing at the Abbe, it quickly moved on to Tony Robinson 'experimenting' with automatic handwriting, involving Robinson and a lady from the Society for Psychical Research. I felt that this part of the programme should have been a bit more explanatory, looking, albeit briefley, at the history of automatic handwriting and giving more insight into the evidence for and against. As it was it relied upon Robinson 'having a go at it' followed by a brief interview with Prof Chris French who blamed it on the writer's subconcious. The programme didn't even attempt to explore French's theory and completly avoided any talk of fraud by Bond and his colleagues of the day. I should mention that Robinson produced a couple of squigles in his writing attempts which he later interpreted as angel, emma something (he later decided it was emmanuel) and Walles. The co-presenter and Robinson debated this and disregarded angel as a subconcious thought becauseof the subject of the programme, similarly they did this with emmanuel - Robinson beingaccused of seeing words he wanted to see. The more interesting result was Walles as the programmes researcher uncovered an early account of the Abbot and a monk called Wallace deciding where to construct the abbey. While Robinson thought this 'spooky' the co-presenter thought it co-incidence. I'm leaning towards coincidence  particularly as it spelt welles- not much like wallace or wallis - why not wells or walls something more commonly found at abbey sites.

The second part of the programme examined a set of bones, dug up by Bond and identified by him, through the automatic handwriting, as being the relics of one of the last Abbots of Glastonbury. The bones, now held at another abbey, were briefly 'looked at' by the co-presenter and an osteoarchaeologist in the company of a monk at the abbey, followed by a brief chat afterwards. This was all very brief and superficial - perhaps filming was restricted by the abbey as the osteo woman didn't handle the bones, nor have a good look at them. The brief scene with the monk unwrapping the bones, certainly gave the impression of tension between the presenters and the monk.

The final section of the programme took place at the ruins of Glastonbury Abbey with Robinson and co taking two pieces of Bond's writing which claimed that additional buildings were to be found in areas of the abbey where there were no known buildings. Bond's theories had not been tested, so Robinson deployed some geophysics to find out if there was any evidence of these structures, and unsurprisingly there was none.

To be fair this was a Channel 4 Tony Robinson programme, and while these sorts of programmes tend to be interesting, they are rarely in depth and frequently leave the more knowledgable viewer with unanswered questions. I think what I was looking for was a more Horizon styled programme which would have compared and contrasted Bond's discoveries with the archaeological evidence. I'd have liked to have seen them use more experts to analyse Bond's claims. For example, when they were looking for the alleged buildings, they could have spoken to a medieval church specialist and said, should there be buildings here? Their answer could have developed the discussion on whether Bond was receiving guidance from dead monks, or using his archaeological skills to identify surface features. I think the programme also suffered from aa lack of background - there was relatively little looking at Bond's work at Glastonbury, instead the focus seemed to be more on the automatic writing, which was, in any case a very unscientific experiment and didn't really show anything.

All in all I think that for the average viewer this was entertaining, but as something co-produced by the makers of Time Team, I expected something a bit more in depth and challenging. But I also think there is a lot of scope out there to make a good, in depth 60 minute pice which goes into the background of the subject and really explores the claims that Bond made.

It felt at the end that it had been a bit of a wasted journey - no one seemed to know any that they didn't already know at the start of the programme - including the viewer. It just didn't seem to achieve anything.

Ian Topham's picture
Ian Topham
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I missed the first one but

I missed the first one but caught the Glastonbury Abbey programme.  I quite agree with Agricola's review above.  It was good to see the bones being examined and they did seem to refute Bond's claims.  His have a go automatic writing may have produced the squiggle PIG when asking about the remains and when they found some of the bones were from an animal he sort of hinted that maybe it was a pig, hence there might be something in automatic writing.  It was inconclusive but good light entertainment. 

Agricola's picture
Agricola
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Just want to clarify on the

Just want to clarify on the bones - The osteoarchaeologist did identify that one or two bones were from an animal, but didn't say any more on camera about this. Later, they went back to her (off camera), spurred on by Robinson's 'pig' scrawling, and she identified that they came from a 'medium sized mammal', which Robinson enthusiastically chirped could have been a pig.

I'm not an osteoarchaeologist, and don't have any expertise in this field, however I have excavated plenty of bones, and in my mind the one animal bone they showed on camera as coming from an animal, looked distinctly like a rib bone because of it's curvature. I'd even go as far as to say it looked like it may have been cat or dog. I certainly wouldn't have said pig as it was much too small. The problem lies with the term 'medium sized mammal' - it's extremly vague. But in terms of animals kicking about in medieval England (assuming that the bones were found in that context) at the time, I'd have said a pig was a large mammal, though admitedly slightly smaller than horses and cows of the period, it was still significantly larger than the next largest mammal, the dog.

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Ian Topham
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I'm actually a third

I'm actually a third generation butcher, though I haven't boned out any animals for a few years now having left the trade well behind me.  To be honest though I wasn't paying enough attention to the bones to say whether it could be a pig or not.



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