The 20 Year History Of Britain's Most Iconic Paranormal Reality Show
On a Saturday night in May 2002 the first ever episode of 'Most Haunted' aired, a show that defined a genre and still has a huge fanbase two decades later.
The show is hosted by Yvette Fielding, who rose to fame as the youngest ever presenter of 'Blue Peter' at the age of 18. Yvette has spent most of her life in front of the camera, she's won multiple awards, is a regular guest on shows, and appeared in the 15th series of reality show, 'I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here!'.
Today, Yvette is best known as the host of 'Most Haunted', a show that she co-created with her husband, Karl Beattie, who also appears on screen in the show. It was the two of them who came up with the idea for a ghost hunting show, originally for the now-defunct television channel Living TV.
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Yvette remembers, "it was an idea that Karl and I came up with. A friend had come over to our house on a Sunday afternoon, just for a cup of tea, and he had actually stayed at with his girlfriend just for a weekend at a place called Michelham Priory in East Sussex."
Yvette recalled that the friend told her that the building was haunted by no less than 13 ghosts. Yvette said, "the friend went away and Karl and I sort of sat chatting and he said to me 'would you spend the night in a in a haunted house with a camera crew?' I'd watch 'The Blair Witch' a couple of months beforehand, and I said 'what if we got those night vision cameras as well so we could see in the dark?'"
According to Yvette, the pair sat up all night and eventually came up with the idea of 'Most Haunted'. She said, "I don't know what it was, but I honestly felt like we were sort of pushed from, I don't know, a higher being or whatever it was to really pursue this. Nothing like this had ever happened to me before, I sort of felt so passionate about it, as did Karl."
Yvette continued, "we then went and put all our savings into making a pilot program. We wanted it to be edited professionally, we wanted it to be made professionally, we bought professionals on board and it cost us thousands of pounds, we used all our savings."
This was a gamble for the couple, at the time Yvette was nursing their daughter, Mary, who was only a baby at the time. Meanwhile, Karl was working as a cameraman, Yvette said, "we had a mortgage to pay and all the rest of it and we had no money left, we put it all into this pilot program."
Although the first episode that aired was shot at Athelhampton Hall in Dorchester, Yvette and Karl actually filmed their pilot episode at the East Sussex home that their friend had tipped them off about, Michelham Priory. The pilot episode ended up being aired later in the first series of the show.
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Yvette confesses that when she started out she was unsure whether claims of the paranormal were real, "I went into it with an open mind thinking not every cold draught is a ghost, it's probably because some idiot's left the door open."
But this didn't stop fear getting the better of her, she admitted, "I was terrified of anything to do with the paranormal, it would just give me nightmares. I would never watch horror movies, or spooky movies, or anything to do with ghosts because it would give me terrifying nightmares. So when we said let's go and do a pilot programme of this, let's spend the night in a haunted house, I was absolutely just beside myself with fear, but at the same time incredibly excited."
"We could not sell this idea for love nor money."
But Yvette survived her first night in a haunted house, then came the real nightmare - selling the show. Yvette explained that there was initially no interest in the show, "we could not sell this idea for love nor money. For six months we went round to every single station knocking on the door." Yvette says they even tried Channel 5, who told the couple that they were unprofessional for even broaching this subject.
Their lucky break came after a friend of a friend took a look at the pilot. Karl took the tape to Arch Dyson, a television veteran who has held senior roles with most major British broadcasters, but at the time worked at Living TV.
Yvette described their meeting, "Arch watched the whole half an hour pilot and then very carefully and quietly sort of pushed the VHS back over the table towards Karl, and Karl thought 'oh, not again' and Arch just went 'I'll have a whole series, please. I'd like 16 programmes'."
Yvette can clearly recall the moment that she heard the news, "I was at home clearing up Lego bricks and Karl phoned me and I fell to the floor, dropped to my knees and the Lego went in my bloody knees, and I remember bursting into tears. Karl was at an airport going off to do a a camera shoot and he was going 'we sold it! We bloody sold it!'."
All the show needed now was a memorable theme tune, and that came from former Dire Straits keyboard player, Alan Clark, who in 2018 was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The now-famous theme was put together by Alan using his own original electronic sounds and samples.
The first episode of 'Most Haunted' aired on May 25, 2002 on Living TV, the channel that would be the show's home until 2010. During the Living days of the show, it arguably had its biggest impact on the paranormal world and inspired a generation of ghost hunters.
It put countless haunted locations firmly on the map of paranormal hotspots across Britain and beyond, thanks to live shows and specials that were filmed in the Netherlands, USA, Romania, Italy and the Czech Republic. Many locations such as Bodmin Jail, Chillingham Castle, Derby Gaol, Edinburgh Vaults, Jamaica Inn and the Ancient Ram Inn owe their haunted reputations, at least in part, to the spotlight that was shone on them by Yvette and the team.
It wasn't just places that the show thrust into the limelight, it also made a name and even provided a career for many of its former cast members, even long after they left the show.
The original team, lead by Yvette and Karl included Yvette's brother Rick Fielding, who left the show at the end of series four in 2004 and now lives in the United States. However, Rick did make a return as a guest investigator in the 2019 series of the show in a three-part investigation filmed at Hodroyd Hall in Yorkshire.
One ghost hunter who has been a permanent fixture of the team since day one is Stuart Torevell, who was part of the crew in the first episode, and is still as vital to the show today.
In 2004, Stuart found himself at the centre of one of the show's most terrifying moments of all time. While the team were shooting an episode for series five at the Ancient Ram Inn, a pub in Wotton-under-Edge with the reputation as the most haunted in the UK, Stuart had his biggest scare to date.
Towards the end of the investigation, Stuart fell to the floor and screamed for help saying "I can't move." The team around him, which included Karl and Derek Acorah, tried to comfort him, but Stuart cried "don't rub my chest." Derek said "I felt him being walloped the second time, he was hit fully in the chest and ribs."
Stuart said afterwards "I'd been punched in the chest, I'd been winded. And as I went down, I got punched again then. So, I got winded twice. I was like a young kid in a playground getting picked on and beaten up. When I went down I felt like I was being kick constantly in the stomach."
As a result of this incident, which the team to this day described as one of their most violent encounters, Stuart lost his hair due to alopecia brought on by the scare.
Although Yvette was skeptical when she first started the show, experiencing events like these over the last 20 years has been enough to make her a firm believer. She said, "my personal belief is that there is life after death and that I have had experiences with it and the people that I work with have seen something supernatural, something they cannot explain."
She added, "I've seen too many things, I've heard too many things, we have as a team recorded so much evidence that we've sent on to universities for people to research and look into it more, and I now know without a shadow of a doubt that there is life after death."
However, Yvette did once confess that not every ghostly sighting is truly paranormal. She explained, "I think that many sightings are real, but I'm sure some can be forced if a person is so desperate to see something they want to, but there are so many other explanations as to what they have seen."
But Yvette is certain that tricks of the mind and misidentifications of normal things aren't the cause of all supernatural experiences. She gave the example of a sighting of a ghost at the Theatre Royal on Drury Lane when the whole cast of 'My Fair Lady' saw a ghost at exactly the same time while posing for a group photo. Yvette said, "they're having a photograph taken, they look out and there's the famous 'man in grey' walking right across. They all saw that."
As far as Yvette's concerned, the best piece of evidence the team have caught on camera to date was the "Wentworth Ghost." A full apparition that was caught on camera in the abandoned stables of Wentworth Woodhouse near Rotherham. She described the video as "the most groundbreaking footage we have ever captured".
It was crew members Karl and Stuart who caught the eerie figure on camera walking up some steps during a nighttime vigil in part of the derelict stable block of the Grade I listed country house. Karl had rested the camera just inside a doorway, looking out at a dark corridor when Stuart spotted the figure which was also caught on camera. Believing it to be another member of the team or someone else in the building, Stuart chased after the figure only to find there was no one else on that floor.
Yvette was understandably very excited by the capture, she recalls, "that was an amazing piece of footage, and the first time I saw it, I actually burst into tears." She continued, "I was so excited and overwhelmed with the fact that, all of these years on 'Most Haunted', to me, that is the best piece of paranormal evidence."
However, Yvette says that instead of it being the answer they had been looking for, it's just given the team more questions, "was it the spirit of a long-dead soul, a doppelgänger, a 'stone tape' replay, or something else we are never supposed to understand?"
Throughout the first series of the show, the gang was joined by Jason Karl. When Jason left the show after the first series, he was replaced by Nottingham-born paranormal investigator, Phil Whyman. Although Phil only appeared alongside Yvette in three of the early series of 'Most Haunted', as well as several live shows, he's one of the most memorable former members of the team. It was his job to take baseline readings before the investigation, often by looking for spikes in electromagnetic fields with an EMF meter, making this gadget famous and a must-have for ghost hunters for years to come.
Since 'Most Haunted', Phil has written about hauntings, for a time ran his own ghost hunting company, and was a regular columnist on the now defunct magazine, 'Chat It's Fate'. More recently Phil has followed in the footsteps of Yvette and Karl and devised his own paranormal web series with his wife, Sara.
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Another famous name associated with the early episodes of 'Most Haunted' is Richard Felix. The team first met the Derbyshire-born paranormal historian when they investigated his Derby attraction, the old gaol as part of the first series. He went on to join the team as a regular from series two in 2003, through until the show's eighth series five years later.
Since leaving 'Most Haunted', Richard has remained an active part of the paranormal community. He still runs Derby Gaol to this day, leads ghost walks in his home town of Derby, and has for years been sharing his ghostly tales in a collection of DVDs called 'Ghost Tour of Great Britain'.
The historian had become an important role of the show and Richard was replaced in 2008 by Lesley Smith. Like Richard, the team had first met Lesley on a previous investigation back in 2003. Lesley appeared in that earlier episode as the curator of Tutbury Castle, she also featured prominently in a 'Most Haunted' spin-off series.
'Most Haunted: Midsummer Murders' saw Yvette Fielding and the team embark on a series of unique investigations. Sent on assignment by Lesley, Yvette and co attempted to uncover the the mysteries surrounding some of Britain's most gruesome murders.
In each of the eight episodes, Yvette was joined by Ciarán O'Keeffe, psychic medium David Wells, and some other familiar faces from the 'Most Haunted' team. It's over a decade since 'Most Haunted: Midsummer Murders' was last shown on television, but the whole series is available to watch on Amazon Prime.
The spin-off series saw the team focus on one town per episode and visit multiple locations as they attempted to solve age old mysteries. The locations included Nantwich in Cheshire, where their first stop was the Hack Green Nuclear Bunker on the outskirts of the town. The Cold War bunker, which is now a popular museum, was so haunted that the team returned for a full investigation a year later as part of series 11 of the show.
'Most Haunted: Midsummer Murders' also took the team to Pluckley, a very famous village in paranormal circles. Several well documented reports of ghost sightings have earned the village in Kent a reputation of being one of most the haunted villages in England. The team investigated four locations across Pluckley, including the infamous Dering Woods, also known as the "Screaming Woods".
'Midsummer Murders' also featured Cath Howe, who was another memorable part of the early shows. She was the show's makeup artist for a massive 153 episodes from 2003 to 2010. As well as working behind the scenes, she was a favourite on camera and was known as the "screamer." Cath hasn't worked prominently in the television industry since 'Most Haunted', but she still works with hair and beauty.
A big part of the earlier episodes of 'Most Haunted' was the spiritual medium. The show's first and most famous resident psychic was Derek Acorah, who passed away in 2020. Derek was an important part of the show's format from its inception and lasted three years, but he was infamously outed after an incident at Bodmin Jail in Cornwall.
In one of the old prison cells Derek got possessed by a violent spirit who identified himself as a South African jailer called Kreed Kafer. While in the trance, Derek shouted and aggressively knocked over various objects in the museum. However, it was later revealed that the incident had been set up to test Derek's abilities by the show's resident parapsychologist at the time, Dr. Ciarán O'Keeffe.
Ciarán appeared as a regular on the show between 2004 and 2010, this means the open-minded skeptic has featured in roughly half of the episodes of 'Most Haunted' to date. Ciarán is still a very much respected and active part of the paranormal community, and also the head of the Buckinghamshire New University's psychology department where he specialises as a parapsychologist.
Ciarán has made countless television and media appearances over the years, most recently as one of the armchair critiques on the Really channel's 'Unexplained: Caught on Camera', and featured in Danny Robins' hugely successful podcasts 'The Battersea Poltergeist' and 'Uncanny'.
In a 2005 radio interview with Chris Moyles, Yvette said, "Ciarán left a piece of paper around with the name 'Kreed Kafer' on it and said, within earshot of Derek, that he was a nasty South African jailor."
She added, "when we started filming, Derek decided to get possessed by this fake person. The name is actually an anagram of Derek Faker. We tell people everything is real, then it turns out he was a fake, so he had to go." Ciarán has also gone on record to defend his outing of Derek, "I only devised this plan to see if Derek was deliberately hoodwinking the public."
Derek was replaced by medium and astrologer, David Wells, who had already been appearing regularly as a guest medium on the show. Other mediums who worked with the team included Chris Conway, Brian Shepherd, Gordon Smith and Ian Lawman.
Despite his controversial exit from 'Most Haunted', Derek maintained a huge fan base and went on to appear in his own short-lived show, Derek Acorah's Ghost Towns', and has since made appearances on a whole host of shows including 'Doctor Who', 'Celebrity Juice' and 'Harry Hill's TV Burp'. He also regularly took his psychic abilities on tour, most recently on his 2019 'The Eternal Life Tour'.
In 2017, Derek was a contestant in the 20th series of 'Celebrity Big Brother', eventually finishing fourth, he lived along with 15 other celebrities in the famous house at Elstree Studios. But this wasn't the first time Derek spent the night at the studios in Borehamwood, which are home to the likes of 'Eastenders', 'Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?' and 'Strictly Come Dancing'.
Elstree is said to have a sinister past and Derek had previously met some of the resident spooks first hand in May 2005 when he visited with Yvette and the rest of the 'Most Haunted' team for a live special.
The three night 'Most Haunted Live!', dubbed 'Nightmare On Elstree', saw Derek and Yvette hold vigils in the studio buildings, a nearby Roman road, and various pubs in the area. They were joined for the live ghost hunt by Ciarán and Richard.
During the show Derek encountered a couple of Roman legionaries passing through the studio complex and a family of plague victims who died in the 1600s.
Sadly, in January 2020, Derek passed away aged 69 after a short illness. His wife, Gwen, announced the news in a Facebook post on the medium's official page. She wrote, "I'm devastated to announce that my beloved husband Derek has passed away after a very brief illness."
In 2014 the show returned after a four-year hiatus, finding a new home on the Really channel. Yvette said at the time, "'Most Haunted' is a passion for me and being a part of such a great team is a dream come true. Do I get scared on this series? Well, yes...we all do. We have upped the game on this series like never before and moved paranormal programming to next level and as a result have filmed some of the best activity we have ever encountered."
Karl said, "television was too quiet without 'Most Haunted' so we answered fans' calls and brought it back." He added, "we have a few new faces, new equipment and a hoard of unexplained experiences. This series is, without doubt, the best yet."
Upon its return, Yvette and Karl had decided to no longer use psychics on the show. Yvette explained why, "I believe that there are people out there who truly are psychic, they truly are spiritual and are 'mediums' as we call them, but I think sadly the majority of people who call themselves psychic and mediums that are on the television, that do theatre shows, that seek money for tickets and so on, I think they're charlatans, they've been found out, they are fake, they are frauds."
She added, "hopefully by us not having mediums on 'Most Haunted' anymore we'll be able to move forward and bring back some confidence in some people."
Although the show no longer had a psychic as part of the team, a new role was created for a demonologist. It was the mysterious Fred Batt who filled this role, but Fred was no stranger to viewers. He'd first appeared in the second series of 'Most Haunted' when Yvette, Derek and the team went to investigate his home in the Surrey Hills known as the Clock House. Fred went on to make appearances on several of the legendary 'Most Haunted Live!' events.
Fred remembers, "the first one I did was the Village Of The Damned in Wales". This seven-night special was broadcast from Denbigh Asylum over Halloween in 2008. Fred recalls being thrown in at the deep end, "I was on stage doing an interview with Julian Clegg in front of an audience of 1,000 people, but it went really well. I really just fitted into it."
Fred experienced one of his proudest moments on the show to date on a subsequent live show, a brush with the Devil in Prague.
Fred told us, "it's the only place in the world where Satan is said to have appeared from a whole in the ground." He's talking about the sinister Castle Houska. Fred has first-hand experience with the evil that lurks here, he said "you could cut the evil with a knife, the feeling in there was just horrible, really horrible."
There's one very strong legend associated with the castle. Tales of demons, monsters and even the Devil himself. Legend has it that the castle is built on the gateway to Hell. It is widely believed that the entrance to Satan's lair cracked open here in 878 AD and bizarre half-human beasts and flying creatures spewed from within.
Houska was built by Cistercian monks with the sole purpose of covering this terrifying gateway. Fred says, "it was built for a specific purpose, it wasn't built to live in. It was a hole in the ground that winged creatures were seen coming out of and people thought the Devil was down there."
A chapel was constructed directly over a huge hole in the ground and then the fortification built round that in a bid to seal it for all eternity. Fred adds, "it wasn't built to keep people out, it was built to keep something in".
Fred visited the castle with the 'Most Haunted' team during a live show in 2010. He recalled, "they locked me in the chapel and I was calling out to Satan in Latin and my briefcase went over on its side and all the papers were being pulled out individually."
The terrifying moment was caught on camera, but despite the activity around him, Fred continued with his incantations because he felt he was close to coming face to face with Satan. "I thought, 'he's here, I've got him'." But moments later the show's production team came to get him, calling an end to the vigil. Fred says, "that's the closest I've got to him really."
Fred, whose interest in the occult began as a teenager, became a regular member of the 'Most Haunted' team in 2014, since which time he's become well known for his demonic incantations. The Latin chants come from a large book of shadows that he is often seen carrying aroud with him. The demonologist said, "on the show, the bad ones, the channel cuts half of it out so you don't get the whole thing because it can be quite dangerous."
He's often also armed on vigils with candles, a large ornate crucifix, a decorative 'bejazzled' skull, and a silver chalice.
Also joining Fred and regulars Yvette, Karl and Stuart for the Really era was Gregg Smith, an experienced camera man who wasn't afraid of the dark, this made him well suited to take on the role of camera man on the show. Although Gregg's place is behind the camera, he is often seen on screen and gets involved by calling out to the spirits. When he does, he comes across as confident, calm and respectful, making him a valuable addition to the team.
Darren Hutchinson also joined the show in 2014 as the sound man, having worked in television all his life. As well as appearing on 'Most Haunted', Darren also acted in the 2016 movie 'Enemy Within', playing the role of Michael, so he's used to being in front of the camera, which is lucky because his role in the 'Most Haunted' team extends far beyond just holding a microphone boom, he's expected to muck in during the ghost hunts with the rest of the team.
However, it's fair to say that Darren isn't the bravest member of the team and has a particular aversion to being teamed up with Fred, especially when Fred begins chanting and calling forth demons.
In one episode when Fred was in full swing, Darren was operating the camera and turned it on himself to say, "I want to punch him in the face sometimes." But this is the reason why Fred is on the show, as Karl once explained, "Fred has a job to do, he's on there as a demonologist, he's an expert in demonology and witchcraft, he knows his stuff, and you cannot doubt the fact that when he does his incantations stuff does happen."
A year later, in the second series for Really, another new face joined the team to take on a brand new role as the show's resident skeptic. Glen Hunt, a Lancashire-born radio presenter, might be a skeptic, but says he's "an open minded one." His role is to walk around the property with Yvette at the start of each episode and give a more balanced and rational opinion of the reported activity there.
After seven years on the show, has Glen been convinced? Well, he's experienced his fair share of odd happenings and has publicly stated that all of the activity he has experienced is 100% real, but added "I just don't know what the hell is doing it. It's a real energy, I just don't know what the chuff it is." Glen says he's left questioning whether the paranormal is really the spirit of the dead or something else we don't yet understand.
Glen's most convincing paranormal experience occurred while filming on the first floor of Hill House in Sandbach with Yvette and the team. The corridor they were stood in at the time is said to have a very negative atmosphere and is right near the location where an unconfirmed hanging took place.
Glen said that while they were waiting to get started, he saw one of the crew wandering around, "I looked up to see, through the window of a door, what I thought was the side profile of Gregg walking past into another room."
Soon after the cameras started rolling Glen suddenly looked very concerned when he realised that Gregg was still further up the corridor, so he couldn't have been walking in the room where he saw the figure. Confused he said, "Gregg, you're here, I just realised. Before we came through that door, I actually saw someone go into that room, I just assumed it was you but I actually saw a physical person."
Although Gregg was able to confirm he hadn't been in that room at all, Glen was absolutely sure he'd seen something. After the incident, Glen described the "wonderfully weird" incident as "the most striking apparition I've witnessed."
Another team member who dipped in and out of the show's Really era was Eamonn Vann-Harris, who joined 'Most Haunted' in 2015 as the team's resident Electronic Voice Phenomenon (EVP) specialist, which basically meant he was there to capture recordings of spirit voices using an array of specialist equipment.
His impressive-looking kit varied but consisted of various audio capturing and filtering devices, including multiple microphones for capturing ghostly sounds, which were sometimes connected to a reel-to-reel tape machine or a laptop.
After appearing in 31 episodes, Eamonn left the show in 2017 due to a new job that was taking up more of his time. He said, "with so many commitments I had to let something go - had a great time though." However, he didn't rule out a return at some point. When asked if he'd ever make a guest appearance in a future episode, he said "you never know."
The team might have been one man down, but another new face joined the team in that same year, Yvette's pet dog, Watson. When Watson the bulldog first sprang into action with the team at Abbey House Museum in Leeds, he was just two years old, but it didn't take long for him to pounce head-first into the den of a particularly aggressive poltergeist.
Yvette said, "we didn't buy him to go on 'Most Haunted' but he has become my baby now the kids are a grown up and comes everywhere with me. I started to take him to filming and he loved it, being with the crew and on location."
Ever since, Watson has joined the team on investigations in some of the locations where it's safe for a pooch and where dogs are allowed.
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"The 'lives' are always the lifeblood of 'Most Haunted', it was a way for us to see lots of the fans all in one place."
If there was ever a time to make sure you didn't miss an instalment of the show, it was on the night of a 'Most Haunted Live!'. The live shows, some of which were broadcast every night for a week or more, were an important part of the show, as Karl explained, "the 'lives' are always the lifeblood of 'Most Haunted', it was a way for us to see lots of the fans all in one place, we can talk to them about the show, what they like, what they don't like."
The first 'Most Haunted Live!' was broadcast from Dudley Castle on the night of Halloween 2002, after the first series of the show came to an end. Since then the team have embarked on 43 live investigations, including the 2010 'Live Series' in which the team visited a different haunted location each week for eight weeks.
In the early days the team were joined by Derek for the investigation, which aired for only one night. Over time the events became bigger and better, often running for anything from three to eight consecutive nights, with the team visiting multiple locations or even a different city each night.
While Yvette and the team were out in the cold and dark hunting spooks, holding the broadcast together in the studio was David Bull, who has had a career in politics since leaving the show. In later instalments of 'Most Haunted Live!', David was replaced by Paul Ross, who joined the team in 2005 for their three-night live in Merseyside, and went on to host a further 16 live shows for the team.
Both David and Paul were joined in the studio by a full audience and were assisted by Julian Clegg, who was responsible for manning the interactive hub during the broadcasts and reading out viewers messages.
Away from 'Most Haunted Live!', Julian is a radio presenter and was the host of the BBC Radio Solent breakfast show. In 2019, after almost 23 years, Julian hung up his headphones. His final show coincided with his 60th birthday. During his last broadcast for the station, a young caller asked Julian why he was leaving. He replied, "because I'm very old and need to have a lie-in."
Perhaps the most memorable 'Most Haunted Live!' aired over Halloween 2004 and saw the intrepid team head to the home of the Pendle Witches in Lancashire. During the broadcast, which was spread over three nights, the team held vigils at Clitheroe Castle, Church Brow, Trinity Youth Centre, Lower Well Head Farm, Bull Hole Farm, and Waddow Hall but it was the derelict Tynedale Farm house where things got really terrifying.
During the live investigation of the house, which is said to be haunted by the ghost of the witches of Pendle Hill, several team members said they felt like they were being chocked and one-by-one left the location. Stuart was the first to experience difficulties breathing and had to be carried out of the house, he was followed by a further three crew members who also reported a feeling as if they were being suffocated.
Of course, live television doesn't always go to plan, as the team learnt in 2004 during their three-night long broadcast from Essex. They were investigating the story of Matthew Hopkins, "The Witchfinder General" of the infamous witch trials. Yvette had an unexpected accident while walking along Seafield Bay near Manningtree in the county.
Yvette was on the beach in the dark with Derek and the show's skeptic Matthew Smith, an area which is supposed to be haunted by the ghost of a witch who was tortured and executed. As Derek started to pick up on the residual energy of the spirit, Yvette suddenly stopped dead in her tracks.
Seafield Bay is actually nothing more than a huge mudflat, and Yvette was sinking in the mud. It took the whole team to very unceremoniously pull Yvette free, but although she was freed, her wellington boots remained firmly stuck in the mud. The incident made for a memorable moment in the show's history.
Following the show's four-year hiatus between 2010 and 2014, 'Most Haunted Live!' returned to our screens on Saturday, October 31, 2015. The Halloween special was broadcast on the Really channel from the infamous poltergeist house, 30 East Drive in Pontefract and was one of the show's most violent investigations to date.
Yvette said at the time, "this is without a doubt the most haunted place we have ever investigated. In fact, after filming the first two episodes of the new series, I said I would never go back. It's going to be terrifying and viewers can share the screams at the very same time as me!"
The team experienced a whole host of paranormal activities including knives being thrown and burns occurring on the skin of crew members. At one point Karl was dragged up stairs which left him with red marks around his neck, Gregg fell to the floor screaming after experiencing what felt like his chest being squeezed, and just after midnight before the show came to an end, a porcelain ornament was thrown across a room which smashed a glass door.
The house is one of the most infamous haunted houses in the country, many believe that the poltergeist which haunts the house is the spirit of a local monk who was executed at near by gallows. The house's most famous former residents were the Pritchards, Jean and Joe and their two children Philip and Diane. Almost immediately after moving in to the house, Philip and his grandmother witnessed the first creepy occurrence which led to one of the country's most famous hauntings. Karl described the occurrences as "the most violent poltergeist activity in the world."
Since 2015 there have been no live episodes on television, as the then UKTV-owned Really channel refused to invest in the show, despite its strong ratings for the channel. In an online Q&A session Yvette confessed that she was frustrated that they can't take the show out as a live broadcast any longer, she said, "if the truth be told, it pisses me off because we should be doing them live."
Karl added, "nobody wants a 'live' more than us, we all want it exactly the same," and added "we are doing are absolute best and we are hoping to bring you something one day." However, a few months later news came from Karl that it wasn't going to happen. He tweeted, "sadly UKTV has made it very clear to us that they don't have the appetite for a 'Most Haunted Live!' despite our best efforts for a number of years and your petitions and emails asking for one. So, if we do a paranormal live show on Halloween it will not be on the UKTV network."
The 'Most Haunted Live!' at 30 East Drive was the last live episode to be broadcast on Really, but it remains the most watched programme in the channel's history. However, the team were able to produce several "as live" specials for the channel.
The "as live" shows were shot in the same style as a regular live show. They were unedited and longer than a normal episode of the show. For Halloween 2016 one of these episodes was shot at HMP Shrewsbury. It followed an exciting three-part investigation of the prison in Shropshire when a crowbar was thrown several times, on one occasion only just missing Yvette. Based on this activity, Yvette once swore she would never return to the prison. She explained this was because HMP Shrewsbury is "so terrifying and potentially violent."
The following year saw the team investigate Croxteth Hall in Liverpool on Halloween night, where Glen experienced something else that made him question his skeptical stance. During the investigation Glen had been running an EVP experiment in the kitchen and while reviewing the audio recording with Yvette, he discovered something odd had been captured. It seems that Glen's equipment captured what sounded like scissors snipping, on hearing the sound Yvette covered her mouth in shock, "oh my God!"
The cutting sound was captured on both the laptop in digital form and on Glen's old analogue reel-to-reel tape recorder. Yvette didn't like it at all, she said, "I can't listen to this," adding "it's horrible, I really didn't think Corxteth Hall would be as violent as it has been". The investigation of Croxteth also included a bed moving on its own and all of the furniture in a room being thrown around, seemingly in a matter of seconds.
Further "as live" specials were shot at Ashwell Prison in Rutland, and Derbyshire's Codnor Castle Cottage, where a haunted doll spontaneously burst into flames in the house's creepy attic.
In 2019, towards the end of the Really era, Yvette took the team to Eden Camp Museum in North Yorkshire for a two-part, "as live" special where they were joined by their youngest team member to date, Yvette and Karl's daughter, Mary Beattie. Yvette introduced Mary by telling viewers that she is "representing our younger teenaged fanbase". Despite being age and only appearing in two episodes of the series, Mary proved herself to be a confident and balanced investigator, and was very popular with fans of the show.
Including these "as live" specials, Really channel brought fans 91 new episodes and the 'Most Haunted Live!' from Pontefract, but in 2019 it was announced that Really's rocky relationship with 'Most Haunted' had come to an end.
Karl put this down to the channel's habit of seemingly given American ghost hunting shows more prominence, rather than focusing on homegrown paranormal entertainment. He said, "'Most Haunted' will no longer be aired on Really TV as they are only interested in promoting the USA shows they have acquired/commissioned."
He continued, "one thing the US broadcaster doesn't like is being beaten, and as the British-made 'Most Haunted' (with a zero budget), beat their best shows (where budgets range from $200k-$300k per episode), they lost out each week to 'Most Haunted'."
Karl added, "we have been, and are still, in talks with other broadcasters so whatever the decision, we look forward to taking the 'Most Haunted' brand even further."
Since parting ways with Really, 'Most Haunted' have continued to bring fans content, finding a new home on YouTube. Karl explained in one of the first videos why they set the channel up and made the move to YouTube, "we are going to be doing all of the things you've been asking for over the last few years". He added, "we do 'Most Haunted' for you, we always have and we always will."
The team have added almost 100 hours of content to their official channel, including full-length investigations of new locations, as well as returning to a few favourites from the show's past. Moving to YouTube has also given them the opportunity to host three live Halloween specials - even inviting along a studio audience for the first time in almost ten years.
The 2019 live broadcast from Accrington Police Station & Courts had 20,000 paranormal fans watching at its peak. The whole event was viewed more than 100,000 times during the three hours and trended at No. 5 on Twitter in the UK as fans of the show talked about the event using the hashtag #MostHauntedLive.
Photo: © Antix Productions
As we came into 2020, the global coronavirus pandemic impacted the team's activities, and also made them re-think how they used their YouTube channel. During the lockdowns, Yvette and Karl tried to keep their fans entertained while they were isolating at their home in Cheshire, by uploading additional content on to their YouTube channel. Karl tweeted at the time, "Yvette Fielding and I will be doing as much as we can to fill the void, so pop over to the Official Most Haunted YouTube Channel, there will be some impromptu lives and more 'Most Haunted Extras'."
Now the world has returned to some kind of normality, Yvette and the team have been able to return to haunted locations and start making episodes again. Including an eventful three-hour 'Most Haunted Live!' last Halloween streamed from the Botanic Gardens Museum in Southport in front of an audience of 100 fans of the show who had won free tickets to come along to the event, while 125,000 people watched from home.
Aside from the show itself, the team have spent a lot of their time over the last few years meeting fans at public ghost hunts hosted by the show's spin-off paranormal events company. Most Haunted Experience (MHE) allows members of the public to visit some of the locations seen on television and hunt for spooks with the stars of the show, including Yvette, Karl, Stuart, Glen, Fred, Gregg and Darren.
Over the years MHE, which is run by the always entertaining events manager Jenny Bryant, has become one of the most successful paranormal events companies in the United Kingdom. Their team of investigators welcome on average around 300 guests to their events all across the country every weekend, earning them a nomination in the Travel & Hospitality Awards in 2020.
Yvette has also been busy writing. Over the last few years she's released two children's books, the first was entitled 'Archie the Ghost Hunter'. Then in 2021, Yvette released the first book in a new series of kids books called, 'The Ghost Hunter Chronicles'. The first book in the series, 'The House In The Woods' is available now. The second book, 'The Ripper Of Whitechapel' will be released later this year, and Yvette is just finishing up the third instalment.
Proving that her passion for things the go bump in the night remains, Yvette has recently launched her own weekly podcast called 'Paranormal Activity', which covers topics including ghosts, UFOs, psychics, monsters, witchcraft and much more. Yvette has hosted episodes in which she's talked about her very first encounter with a spirit, her incredible contact she has with her late father, and even her own UFO sighting. Yvette has also discussed stone tape theory, poltergeists and spoken to listeners about their own paranormal experiences.
In one episode of note, Yvette was joined by the British comedian and television presenter, Paul O'Grady. Paul opened up about living in a haunted house in the episode, but he's no stranger to the world of the paranormal. Yvette and Paul go back years, in fact Yvette calls Paul her "paranormal partner".
He even joined the team for their Halloween special at 30 East Drive. Paul confessed to Yvette in the podcast, "I don't know why I go on these things with you because I'm terrified."
Although Yvette reminded him, "you're always incredibly brave at the beginning." This was true of the East Drive episode when Paul showed that he had a unique and abrupt approach when it came to speaking to spirits. Talking to the poltergeist at Pontefract he said, "do you mind going so people can live in this house in peace, thank you very much. Go on piss off to the 16th century, or wherever you're from." Later in the live episode, Paul taunted the spook further, "call yourself a poltergeist? You're a disgrace to the forces of evil."
So, what's next for 'Most Haunted'? The show is still very much a passion for Yvette and Karl, as are the public events hosted by Most Haunted Experience. The team are still producing shorts and full-length episodes for their YouTube channel, which is fast approaching 100k subscribers.
Earlier this year, Yvette was interviewed on a television news channel when she excited fans with the news that 'Most Haunted' could soon return to television. Yvette told viewers, "it's very exciting, because we just sold 60 episodes to the United States, and then I think they're coming over here to the UK, which is really exciting."
Yvette remained tight-lipped, only adding, "it's being negotiated as we speak by a distribution company." Yvette didn't elaborate any further on the deal, which would mean that new episodes of the British ghost hunting series would air on a US television network, but would be syndicated back to the UK to another of the network's channels or partners here in the UK.
In recent years Yvette has talked about keeping the brand alive by handing the ghost hunting baton on to a new generation of investigators. This would essentially mean that Yvette sets assignments and sends a new team off on paranormal investigations.
There's even been talk of a 'Most Haunted' movie, although admittedly the plans seem to have gone quiet recently, although the project is listed as being in pre-production.
The supernatural horror aims to blur the lines between real life and fiction with a plot line similar to Derek's controversial exit from the show. In the movie version, the show are forced to sack their resident psychic, "Kailash Mylvahan", when they think he's faking it, but in a plot twist not too dissimilar to an updated version of the 1992 classic 'Ghostwatch', it turns out it's all scarily real and all hell breaks loose on live television.
No matter what the future holds, fans will be pleased to hear that the 'Most Haunted' team aren't going anywhere soon, and that the brand is sure to live on for many years to come. Even after 20 years, Yvette says she still gets goosebumps before an investigation, as she never quite knows what might happen during the filming.
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