The ParaPod Podcast Review
I've written about radio shows before and I've of course written about the paranormal before, however I've never reviewed a podcast but Ray Peacock and Barry Dodd's show, The ParaPod has inspired me to write my first podcast review.
The ParaPod is a Chortle Awards nominated podcast and its nomination is highly worthy. The show is hosted by two comedians who are, at times friends, Ray Peacock and Barry Dodds. Each episode paranormal-believer Barry shares, often poorly researched tales of paranormal mysteries, while skeptical, rational Ray points out the flaws in the "fairy tales," as Ray calls them.
The first episode was uploaded in September 2015 and the first series notched up a total of ten episodes as well as a two-part special live from a house reported to be the most haunted house in England.
"I'm not a torturer, I'm not gay and I'm not a tortoise."
What makes the podcast so hilarious is that quick-witted Ray is often more well read on the topics Barry brings to the show, while Barry gets more and more frustrated as his belief in the paranormal is picked apart for all to hear. It sounds a bit brutal... and it often is, but poor Barry, the clear victim of the podcast is a nice guy and his "Featured Haunting" is always an interesting story, made all the more entertaining by Ray's skeptical input.
The series starts with a revealing and amusing tale from Barry about the fall of Dereck Acorah and the story behind why the medium was sacked from Most Haunted. Barry talked about the time he challenged Dereck while attending one of his live shows, which resulted in public humiliation for Barry in front of the rest of the audience.
The (almost) chart topping podcast has delved head first into paranormal topics including the Chillingham Castle, the Enfield haunting, Doris Bither the inspiration for the movie 'The Entity,' the Edinburgh vaults, Beamish Hall, the exorcism of Anneliese Michel, Borley Rectory, the Loch Ness monster, the curse of the crying boy painting, the most haunted village in the UK and even the claims that the Top Gear studio and the Big Brother house are haunted.
Barry also told the sinister story of Elisa Lam, a 21-year-old Canadian student who was murdered in mysterious circumstance at the Cecil Hotel in Los Angeles, a story which gave rise to the catchphrase, "keep it light, Barry."
Do you remember the scary games you used to play as kids like looking in to a mirror and calling the name "Bloody Mary?" Well, Barry still believes those games to be true and throughout the first series Barry introduces us to a new ritual every week. These rituals are ridiculous, poorly researched, confusingly delivered and completely implausible. This may sound like a negative review, but it is in fact the completely opposite, Barry struggling through the rituals as Ray eats away at their credibility is hugely entertaining.
For me, the best ritual came in episode five of series one when Barry read a ritual which was sent via email. Barry started in his usual way saying "for this to work, you'll need to follow these instructions exactly," he continued by reading a ridiculous letter which was to be recited as part of the ritual by the participant. As he neared the end of the letter, Barry read "you're in a dark room reading while on the other side of the door something you can't see is standing, it's me. I wonder if you can guess my name, if you're observant then you might have already noticed the first letters of the last five paragraphs and what they spell." There's a pause and Ray starts laughing before Barry realises he's edited and shortened the note for broadcast thus ruining what turns out to be a word game, not a ritual. Of course Barry would have known this if he had bothered reading to the end of the email before deciding it's real and good enough to use in the podcast. Barry continues, all he has to say is "oh f**k!"
30 East Drive, Pontefract
The overrunning theme of series one was a famous haunted house in Pontefract, it gets mentioned throughout the whole first series but is discussed and picked apart in depth in the first episode. The discussion around the paranormal events at the council house escalated to a point where Ray and Barry decide to go to the house, which is now a magnet for paranormal researchers, to record a two-part special during a live investigation, in which Ray showed up wearing a Ghost Busters t-shirt.
The special was a hilarious end to the series, Barry encounter all kinds of strange goings on in the house which was all captured on mic. Of course, it was all strange goings on at the hands of Ray, who knew he needed to get some content some how, after all an uneventful night in a dark house doesn't make for the most entertaining listen on its own... but maybe faking ghostly occurrences is exactly what the demons at 30 East Drive wanted Ray to do to muddy the waters.
The most terrifying segment of the special was in the second part when Ray interviews a very defensive witness to the hauntings. Carol has been living next door to the haunted house for fifty years. She's a psychic and claims to know the spirits who live in the house, but none of those spirits are half as scary as Carol herself who aggressively lays into skeptical Ray from the offset.
Signs Of A Breakthrough
The first breakthrough in correcting Barry's warped logic came in episode six when he was talking on the phone to Laura from the press office at Hampton Court. During the call Laura said that "Barry is sort of right," referring to a point he'd made about publicising ghost tour of the historic venue, but Barry took that to mean he's 100% right about the building being genuinely haunted by actual ghosts. He admitted in the next episode, after listening back, that he had gotten "too excited. Like you know when you pass your driving test they don't let you drive the car back home because you're too excited. That's the exact mood I was in." From this point on Ray started using the safe word "driving test" whenever Barry gets carried away and isn't looking at the facts rationally.
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