On Halloween night, I was lucky enough to get the chance to spend the night on location with Yvette Fielding and the 'Most Haunted
' team in Southport as they embarked on a three hour live broadcast.
100 fans arrived at the Botanic Gardens Museum in the pouring rain having won free tickets to come along to the event. The lucky fans got to watch the entire broadcast from a warm and dry cafe that joins on to the main museum building, however my surroundings weren't so cozy. Having been given the chance to experience the event from the production team's perspective, I found my self in an old and dilapidated conservatory on the front of the building. It was cold and, as the rain became more torrential, got wetter and wetter thanks to multiple leaks.
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Although only being broadcast on YouTube, the setup was almost on the scale of a television production. With multiple cameras dotted around the location, the slick and professional presentation style of Yvette, and crew consisting of camera men, a sound technician and studio producer - not to mention the 100 strong audience and the events team looking after them.
The show kicked off seamlessly at 9pm and 10 minutes in the team were pleased to have attracted 25,000 people viewing already, but little did they know the drama that was about to unfold on and off camera.
The crew were already having to contend with drips in the makeshift production area in the conservatory. The priority was keeping the broadcast kit dry, things like laptops, vision mixers and monitors, but the one thing that no one considered was the lighting. With the steady dripping of water through the glass ceiling, it seemed that the lights were getting wet and before long the sound of electricity buzzing could be heard from overhead, before a pop and we were plunged into darkness.
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While the solution to this issue simply involved plugging in some studio lights to the wall sockets, which luckily were still working, the next series of events posed a much greater challenge. The first in this chain of incidents once again impacted the crew behind the scenes. Suddenly we could smell burning, indicating a much more serious problem with the building's wiring.
If anything the rain was getting worse, at times it was hard to hear the broadcast over the sound of the rain hammering down on the glass roof. We knew that with more water permeating the building, our problems were only going to increase. With a goal of staying on air until midnight, we wondered how much longer we could hold out.
Meanwhile in the adjoining cafe building water was pouring down the walls into the kitchen. Once again proving that water and electricity doesn't mix, the kitchen's fuse box tripped. The issues were edging closer and closer to the room next door where a hundred members of the public had congregated to watch the show.
Memories of a 2004 'Most Haunted Live!' popped into my head. On this particular three-night live, the team were in Llanbedr in North West Wales. On the second night of the televised event, the team found themselves in the midst of one of the most violent storms seen in the area for many years. This result in the audience being evacuated from the main studio, which was housed in a large tent, to a drier and safer location.
Luckily the power stayed on in the audience's room, but the same couldn't be said for the rest of the building and this chain of problematic incidents wasn't over yet.
The next major occurrence involved the investigation team, some of whom had ventured into the cellar, which had already started to flood in places. After a little while in the disconcerting cellar, Karl Beattie, Yvette's husband and the co-creator of the show, started to feel unwell and appeared to be visibly shaking. Things escalated quickly and moments later Karl was lead on his back on the floor.
A concerned Yvette radioed through to the production team, "can you get somebody down here please, quickly. Somebody. He's having some sort of fit or something. Please." Up in the leaking conservatory the worried crew sent down location manager, Jenny Bryant. She headed down to the basement to offer assistance, despite the fact that earlier in the day she'd been too scared to enter the unnerving space.
In a panic, Yvette then radioed through to the production team, "cut to something else, please." The production team made the snap decision to cut to some footage recorded earlier in the day. The original plan was to play this footage out later in the night to give the team time to re-group and make their way to their final location of the night.
Even this pre-recorded footage couldn't save the broadcast from the next incident. Halfway through the play-out of the VT, the stream suddenly went offline. This left viewers wondering if Karl was alright and what had happened to the team at the museum. In the production conservatory we quickly realised that the internet had gone down.
A short investigation revealed that once again the rain was the cause. The wet had this time got into the museum building and caused the power to trip there, which knocked out the internet router.
We were only off air for a few minutes, but the conservatory became a hive of activity. Camera man, Gregg, was already working on re-laying the cables with production assistant, Kelsey, as the final vigil of the night in the gatehouse had to be aborted due to the weather. Meanwhile, sound man, Darren, suddenly sprang to life to take on the role of IT support and rushed around to try and reroute the ethernet cable to restore the internet connection.
After four of five minutes we were back. It was then down to Yvette's professionalism to get things back on track. As she rushed back towards the only remaining working camera, the team shouted a load of information at her including things to mention to the concerned viewers. Despite having barely any time to process all this information, let alone rehearse the piece to camera, Yvette delivered her lines like a pro.
She told viewers, "the weather here has been absolutely appalling. We've lost everything. All the electricity went in the whole of the building," but she reassured worried viewers, "we're now back on air. I can tell you that Karl is absolutely fine, there is no medical explanation for what happened, but he did lose consciousness."
The show went on, the production team had everything crossed hoping we'd make it through the final 40 minutes until midnight. Surely if the power had tripped once, it would trip again and cut our connection. Would the laptops and broadcast kit stay powered on? Amazingly, the last part of the show went without further incident.
The live broadcast attracted 125,000 viewers on the day, but continues to be available to watch on demand after the event ended. All the drama of the night ended up adding to the narrative of the live broadcast.
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