'Most Haunted Live! On The Trail Of Dick Turpin' New Year's 2003 Special Review
Yvette Fielding and the Most Haunted team embark on their most ambitious live event to date, this time on the trail of the notorious highwayman, Dick Turpin. For the first time ever, the show is spread over three nights.
Things were a little different in the live new year's edition of Most Haunted Live, as always David Bull was holding things together in the studio in York Racecourse, but Yvette wasn't with him, she was travelling around the country with psychic medium Derek Acorah and paranormal investigator Phil Whyman in search of the spirit of the infamous highwayman.
Speaking at the start of the show in front of two high-tech satellite broadcast trucks, Yvette asked Derek if he thought we were going to see some paranormal activity tonight. He said, "absolutely, more than ever."
David explained that the show was a television first and promised that to be an "amazing journey, a very challenging journey, a spectacular journey." Regular viewers will know that Most Haunted Live isn't an easy show to put together, but David said on night one, "this is probably the most complicated programme we've put together to date".
Parapsychologist, Matthew Smith joined David in the studio. David asked him what it would take to convince him that the paranormal is real, Matthew said, "I'm always interested to hear people's experiences, and if you get lots of experiences that are all the same, that lends some support to it."
Also in the Hub in York was the show's historian, Richard Felix. This time Richard has his own history headquarters, complete with a selection of books, maps, artefacts and everything else he could want to prove or disprove the facts given by Derek across the three nights. Richard said, "we've got three nights and I can't take it all in myself, I've got a certain amount of knowledge but I need help," introducing us to the man sat in the history corner with him, Richard Jones. Felix continued, "I certainly need help from Richard, who's an expert of Dick Turpin. We've got books, we've got maps, calendars of prisoners' execution, artefacts, everything that we need when Derek comes up with stuff tonight."
While David, Matthew and the two Richards were cozy and warm in the studio in front of a live audience, Yvette and her team were 168 miles away on Hampstead Heath in the cold and rain. David asked Richard Jones if he thinks Yvette is in the right place, "they are very much in the right place, they're on the northern corridor of London, what is now the M25, and it was Dick Turpin's area. He worked Epping Forest, he worked Hampstead Heath, he worked Enfield Chase just beyond there, and all the way on to Barnes."
In the audience were two special guests, Marion Goodfellow who is a psychic artist, and Simon Peters, a psychic medium.
The Trail Of Dick Turpin
Photo: © Edward Viles
The trail of Dick Turpin will take Yvette across the country, from where he was born in 1705, Hempstead in Essex. His life took him to North London going into Epping Forest and Hampstead, the trail then leads us up through the middle of England, through Milton Keynes and then veering to the east, past Brough in Yorkshire and ending in York itself.
Early in life, Dick followed in the footsteps of his father, working as a butcher in London, but he soon turned to a life of petty crime, stealing horses. He went on to join a notorious band of thieves called the Gregory Gang, a blood-thirsty mob that terrorised North London and Essex.
Fearful of capture the gang broke up and Turpin turned to a new partner, the legendary Tom King. Turpin went on to shoot King dead during a failed robbery, this was Turpin's first murder. Dick was later cornered in a hollow in Epping Forest, Turpin showed no mercy, he shot and killed the man, committing his second murder and making him the most wanted man in England, with a reward for £100 on his head, dead or alive.
Whilst on the run he hid in Weathercock Lane, which is near modern day Milton Keynes. His journey took him to Brough in Yorkshire, where he changed his name to John Palmer and left his days in crime behind him. But, late in 1738 after a argument, he shot his landlord's cockerel. The man known as Palmer was arrested and ended up in York Castle dungeon. Desperate, Turpin wrote to his brother asking for help, but his letter was intercepted and it was found out that Palmer was in fact Turpin.
Some six months after his original arrested and wearing a specially made white suit, Turpin was paraded on a horse drawn cart through the streets of York. Perhaps the legend of Dick Turpin, the romantic and colourful character who made women swoon and men secretly envious began of this trip to the gallows. In his bright suit, the highway man had become the showman, his final scene hanged on the gallows in York. His body was buried at St. George's graveyard.
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Hampstead Heath, London
Yvette and the team are in search of the spirit of the legendary Dick Turpin and they start the first night of their investigation on Hampstead Heath, where his gang pounced on unsuspecting victims. In Turpin's time the heath was a dangerous place where robbers would lie and wait behind trees for their victims. Turpin would spy on the heath from the nearby Spaniards Inn, he could pick out the best clad walkers or the slowest moving coach, who were ripe for the picking.
In total darkness, we join Yvette live from the heath as she tries to make her way through the trees with Phil Whyman. She basically just seemed a little bit lost and clearly wasn't happy about it. Phil asked her if she was OK, Yvette answered, "no, I'm not. I'm not happy at all about it, for crying out loud. You take me to some bloody haunted woods, for Christ's sake. I hate bloody haunted woods."
Moments later, Phil lost his temper with Yvette when she screamed over nothing. Yvette took his telling off on board and said, "what if I see something, I'll s**t myself." But Phil reminded her, "you s**t yourself when you don't see anything".
As we all know, there's safety in numbers and luckily before long Derek joined them and began giving his opinion of some of the spirits of the heath.
Derek picked up on the spirit of a woman called Mary who resided in the nearby Spaniards Inn. Derek says that she was used for the pleasure of men in the pub, but this resulted in a pregnancy and she was thrown out on to the heath.
Derek also picked up on the spirit of a highwayman, it wasn't Dick Turpin, but John Everitt, who was hanged on the heath in 1730 for highway robbery.
Spaniards Inn, London
Yvette, Phil and Derek then moved on to their second location. A pub on the edge of the heath, the Spaniards Inn, which Turpin's father was said to have been the landlord of.
They resumed their investigation in the dark and Derek became aware of the presence of the same female spirit he's picked up on out on the heath, Mary. Derek said that he felt that she had "a great love for Dick". Derek described how she covers Dick up and protects him. In fact, Derek says, "Mary loves Dick".
Mary turned out to be the mother of Dick Turpin, Mary Parmenter, and although factually accurate, it was hilarious and a little too much for Yvette who did all she could to stop herself from laughing. After repeating "Mary loves Dick, Mary Loves Dick" several times.
Yvette then went upstairs in the inn to one of the bedrooms for a lone vigil, saying "I hate coming into places on my own like this," as she walked. It's said that people have been murdered in this room, Yvette sat on this infamous bed.
Yvette then explained how her night vision camera is very susceptible to picking up orbs, which are in fact just dust floating past the lens as they walk around the building and stir it up. It was nice to hear Yvette debunk these common paranormal phenomenon.
After a while Yvette was joined by Phil and Derek. Straight away Phil's electromagnetic field meter started beeping, which coincided with Derek becoming excited by the presence of the spirit of a Spanish man called Francis, a former inn keeper. As Phil's EMF meter was firing intermittently at regular intervals, he thought it was probably the result of some kind of electrical interference, but Derek was convinced it was a result of the spirit's energy.
The team then held a séance around a table in another part of the inn, they were joined by the show's floor manager, Sally Matthews. As Derek started calling out to the spirits, they heard a noise come from behind them, they went to investigate and found that some flowers had been scattered across the floor.
Yvette said it has sounded like someone had rushed past it and knocked the flowers, but of course there was no one in that part of the building at the time. Derek said he thought it was a female spirit who had run through at speed and disturbed the flowers.
It wasn't long after this that the first night came to an end.
Epping Forest, Essex
On night two of the investigation, David Bull remained safe and sound at the Hub in York, while Yvette, Derek and Phil were sent to another grim location. Tonight they are in Epping Forest in North London. Yvette introduces us to the location by telling us that "it is brave man or woman who not fear the darkness that creeps through epping forest. It's secluded silence muffling even the loudest screams."
The forest was once used by highwayman to escape the clutches of the law. An area of the forest known as Loughton Camp is where Turpin's hideout was supposed to be, located just minutes from a house where it is believed he tortured a woman for her valuables.
The woods are said to be haunted. Many have reported hearing cackling laughter and low murmuring sounds, as well as the feeling of being followed through the dense woodland. It is here that Turpin shot and killed a gamekeeper, Thomas Morris in 1737, after he corner Turpin in the woods.
Yvette seemed too terrified by the ominous sounds coming from the darkness to pay any attention to what Derek was saying about the residual energy of Dick Turpin and his partner Tom King that he was picking up on. Derek also picked up on the energy of the murdered gamekeeper, Thomas Morris.
At one point Derek got very excited and shouted "you did not get me," while people sat in the audience watching in York looked at each other and laughed. Derek then fell into a bush.
Minutes later, a panicked Yvette turned to the camera and said "we are completely lost, we've got some members of the crew completely freaking out. We don't know what's going on, something has just touched on member of the crew. We are a small crew of eight of us and we're completely lost."
Yvette said they'd lost the satellite truck and don't know how to find it... although, I'd imagine they could have just followed the camera's cable back to the broadcast truck as they wouldn't have been using any kind of wireless camera. Sending video wirelessly is pretty difficult, especially when surrounded by trees.
After a while Yvette had to be rescued by a forest ranger, who'd come out to find them in the dark, after getting phone calls from friends watching the show to tell him that the gang were lost. Yvette said, "we'll make our way back slowly and surely with the help of Keith," which is odd because at no point did the ranger introduce himself. Either the incident was staged or Yvette has similar abilities to Derek.
The audience were given a chance to vote where Yvette should go next. It seems they've bene enjoying seeing Yvette scared so much that they voted for her to stay in the woods, something Yvette really wasn't happy about. Aside from all the drama of getting lost, the team experienced lots of strange sounds all around them, so much that they thought there might have been people around them throwing things and making noises, but of course, they were alone in the woods.
An exhausted Yvette eventually called it a night at the forest, after finding the broadcast truck, but the audience have voted to send her and the team on to York Dungeon tomorrow night.
Night Three, York
On the third and final night, New Year's Eve, Yvette, Derek and Phil started their investigation at York Dungeon, where Dick Turpin was once held after his arrest. Here Derek picked up on the malevolent spirit of Matthew Hopkin and the essence of a sadistic murderer. Outside in the graveyard, where Turpin was buried, Derek picked up on Dick's spirit.
However, the highlight of the evening was when Derek set Matthew the challenge of going out into the grounds of the racecourse on his own to experience the paranormal activity of the area for himself. Outside it was freezing cold with sleet falling down on him.
The area Matthew has been banished to is known as Knavesmire. It's where the Tyburn stand, the site of the gallows where Turpin was hanged on April 19, 1739. Many people have claimed to have seen Turpin's Ghost appear on the racecourse late at night, but all Matthew saw was an odd couple walking through the Knavesmire with a lantern.
When Matthew asked the pair, called Steve and Ruth, "what are you doing out here, it's freezing cold?" They said it was because it was their anniversary. The couple said they seem plenty of ghosts in York, but have never encountered any on the Knavesmire.
Once Matthew was safely back in the warm and dry, it was Yvette's turn to brave the cold as she, Derek and Phil headed to the Tyburn, the very location where the gallows once stood. Derek became overwhelmed by the spirit of someone called Eugene. He claims he was executed on this site in 1759 and says he knew Turpin. After a few minutes, Derek had to be carried away by members of the crew as Yvette tried to calm him down by shouting "Derek, come forward at him." Once Derek has recovered, he said "that was a nasty one." It seems he was picking up on the pain and the emotion of those that were executed.
Towards the end of the third night, Yvette conducted a séance in the parade ring of the racecourse with five members of the audience, plus psychic artist Marion Goodfellow, psychic Simon Peters and Phil Whyman. Weirdly, Phil's armed started uncontrollably shaking early in the session.
One of the audience members then turned into a bit of a psychic himself, he became aware a little boy, Marion said his name was Joey. Simon continued to say that the boy has a shoe shining kit with him, and that this vision came from the time when Dick Turpin was hanged. As the séance continued the sound of fireworks from those celebrating the new year could be heard in the distance.
The final vigil of the evening took place back at the Knavesmire, where the snow was now beginning to settle on the ground. Derek made contact with his last few spirits, back in the studio the two Richards were able to verify the names Derek had given.
With that, the three night long broadcast came to an end and the team all gathered in the studio to share their final thoughts on what had happened. Yvette was looking like a drowned rat. She said, "I think it's been absolutely marvellous, I wish we could do it all over again"
Did the team track down Dick Turpin's spirit? Derek said Epping Forest was the most active spot, "that's where his energy was, more so than any other location." David concluded that this mean the team had solved the mystery of Turpin.
According to Carolyn Hodgon in the interactive team, during the broadcast, the team received 90,000 text messages, 100,000 people visited the website and over 30,000 sightings were reported on the live webcam streams.
The live show was great and by far the best yet, especially the first two nights. Night three did feel a little bit like the rain and snow had dampened things a little and caused the team to change what they had planned. Over the three nights, Derek was highly entertaining and Yvette reached new levels of fear. I don't think she'll be heading in to a haunted forest any time soon.
Hampstead Heath, London
Spaniards Inn, London
Epping Forest, Essex
York Dungeon, York
George Street Cemetery, York
York Racecourse, York
Spaniards Inn, London
Epping Forest, Essex
York Dungeon, York
George Street Cemetery, York
York Racecourse, York
For reviews of all of the new episodes, plus highlights and evidence from the shows, and to find out when Most Haunted is on next, visit the Most Haunted episode guide.
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