I haven't seen Most Haunted in over a decade, but this year I decided to give the new series a try. While watching the ten new episodes, I followed the conversation of other viewers on Twitter and was surprised by the level of negativity aimed at the show. Why are so many people watching it if they don't like it?
Most Haunted is the original and longest running ghost hunting show on television, it first appeared on our screens in 2002. When I last watched Most Haunted, Derek Acorah was a regular on the show, since then the world of televised ghost hunting has expanded and there are now countless paranormal investigation shows, many of which take a far more scientific approach than Yvette Fielding and the Most Haunted team do.
But, I'm a skeptic. I don't believe in ghosts, so all these fancy gadgets that the other shows have and the sudo-scientific experiments they carry are quite frankly dog shit 💩 and I'd rather see what Most Haunted do, which is put a bunch of people in the dark until they get scared, because that is what ghost stories are all about.
I've said this time and time again. I fully believe that if you tell someone a few ghost stories and send them in to a "haunted house" in the dark on their own they will see, hear or experience something creepy whether they believe in ghosts or not. If that person is convinced that what they encountered was a ghost then you can't really take that experience away from them. Whether it's a trick of the eye, an explainable psychological phenomenon, or something normal being mistaken for a supernatural occurrence, that person did experience it... even if it wasn't actually a ghost.
So for me, it's very clear what Most Haunted is, it's an hour-long show which provides a bit of entertainment in the context of a ghost hunt and I think the most recent series has been a really enjoyable watch. The fact that the show has been on television for 15 years and that viewing figures are higher than ever is testament to that.
As most people do now, while I was watching the show I followed the hashtag on Twitter to see what fans of the show were saying and was a little surprised by what I found. It seemed that for every fan of the show watching and tweeting along, there was a hater. People who don't like the show seem to actively tune in to watch it just so they can try to discredit it on Twitter, isn't that bizarre!
Most of the negative comments relating to the show are about the shows authenticity, haters claim that the show is fake and most frequently accuse team members Karl Beatie and Stuart Torevell of faking the paranormal activity caught on camera.
Now, like I said, I don't believe in ghosts so I can't turn around and say that Most Haunted is "real" in the sense that I think they've caught paranormal activity on camera, but I do believe that the reactions to scares in the show are in most cases genuine because creepy places in the dark are scary and that's a fact. A lot of the scenes that people have called out as fake in the show have actually been some of best bits of the series, so fake or not, it made good TV and really that's all that matters.
It's a little bit like watching a stage magician, I know that the magician doesn't really have any magical powers but by watching his performance I'm almost giving him permission to fool me in order impress and entertain me.
There's so much more to the show than just ghosts, the reaction of the team is priceless, especially Yvette's frequent screams of terror, Fred the show's demonologist provides some fun moments with his occult paraphernalia and demonic incantations, when together Karl and Stuart's antics are always funny, and any time Yvette loses her temper with Karl is always highly entertaining.
While it seems I'm able to enjoy Most Haunted for what it is, there is a large group of people out there who not only dislike the show but seem hellbent on destroying the show's credibility and enjoyment of the show for others, which to me just seems a little spiteful. It's the equivalent of telling a child that Father Christmas doesn't exist.
There are some people who believe in ghosts and it seems that a good proportion of the show's viewers believe that the things they see on Most Haunted are real and what right does anyone have to try to change those beliefs? A friend of mine used to believe in ghosts but is now a hardcore skeptic like me, he says that becoming a skeptic is one of the worst things that ever happened to him. All the fun things like ghosts and UFOs that he used to be into are no longer of interest to him.
What's wrong with letting people explore a harmless, if flawed, belief in the supernatural? Ghost stories have been a part of culture for thousands of years and there are much more sinister beliefs that some people hold.
Some of the show's haters seem to think they have a moral obligation to discredit the show, claiming that they are lying to their viewers, but the show starts every week with a message on screen which states "this show is for entertainment purposes only." Most haunted makes more of an effort to let the viewer know that the show is purely for entertainment than 'Eastenders' does.
It just seems to me that debunking Most Haunted is a kin to watching 'Coronation Street' and pointing out that the beer served up in the Rovers Return isn't real. The places Most Haunted visit, the back story of the buildings, and the sequence of the events which unravel at the location (however they occur) are factual.
What I find hard to understand is the level of passion and commitment Most Haunted's haters have, do they really have nothing better to do than sit at home watching a 60 minute show they don't like every week just so they can comment on the fact they don't like it? If you want a stuffy, factual documentary switch over to the Discovery Channel.