A Child's Toy Is The Focus Of This Week's Case In 'Uncanny'

November 16, 2023 1:00 AM ‐ PodcastsParanormalRadio
Fisher-Price Chatter Telephone
In 'Elton's Phone,' the fourth episode of 'Uncanny,' Amanda, a successful businesswoman from Lincolnshire, recounts her childhood experiences in a house that would become the centre of unexplained phenomena. This house, number 19 in a Manchester suburb, is where Amanda and her family encountered a series of mysterious events.

In the episode, which is available on BBC Sounds now, Amanda tells podcast host Danny Robins about her childhood in the early 1980s. She begins with a description of a memorable Christmas: "We'd all be charging down the stairs, flinging open the door where the Christmas tree would always be full of presents underneath." Among the gifts is a Fisher-Price Chatter Telephone for her sister, Lindsey, a toy that becomes central to their eerie experiences.

Elton, Amanda's younger brother, takes a liking to the toy. Amanda remembers, "He would pick up the red hand piece, make the ringing noise on the dial. And then he would shout 'grandma it's telephone for you.'" However, Elton's initial amusement turns to fear as he starts hearing it ring on its own, leading him to express his fear to Amanda, "I can hear the telephone ringing. It's scaring me."

As Amanda recounts, the strangeness escalates with her grandmother hearing noises and a neighbour, Bryn, observing what he believes are the children's nocturnal activities. Amanda shares her unsettling encounter in Elton's room: "The first thing that I noticed was the cold hit me. It was like a blast of cold air." She finds Elton terrified, with the phone under his bed, a situation defying rational explanation.

Amanda's father experiences a bizarre incident, feeling someone shake his foot while asleep, a sensation that deeply unsettles him. Amanda recalls her father's account, "And to this day, he can't explain what that was."

The episode takes a dramatic turn when Bryn, the family's neighbour, shares a startling observation made by his mother-in-law. As Amanda recounts, "She could hear the usual running up and down the stairs... she said that she saw a young girl in a brown dress walk through the wall of number 17 into number 19." This chilling vision of a young girl in a brown dress, seemingly passing through solid walls from the adjacent house into Amanda's home.

This encounter, along with the other strange occurrences, leaves the family unsettled and prompts them to leave their home in search of normalcy. They took the Fisher-Price phone with them, and according to Amanda, it never made a sound of its own accord again. Reflecting on this, Amanda muses, "It's clearly not the telephone that was haunted. It was number 19."

Danny then wraps up the story with the discovery of an obituary for a child named May, who lived at Amanda's old address.

What Danny's Experts Think

As always, Danny is joined by his panel of experts who analyse Amanda's story. Psychologist Dr. Ciarán O'Keeffe and writer and parapsychologist Evelyn Hollow offer their insights into the strange events surrounding a toy telephone and other phenomena at Amanda's childhood home.

Evelyn Hollow discusses the case from the perspective of cursed and enchanted objects, expressing interest in how "an everyday object suddenly becomes a paranormal object." She points out the mechanical nature of the telephone and the multiple witnesses to its noises, highlighting the peculiarity of the situation: "So we've either got an object that is constantly malfunctioning, or we've got an object that's being interacted with in the context of paranormal activity."

Ciarán offers a skeptical view on the situation, suggesting that while the mechanics of the toy require someone to physically move the dial, this doesn't necessarily indicate paranormal activity. He explains, "Although the mechanics require somebody to actually turn the dial to produce the ringing sound, who's to say that the inner mechanics of that particular toy are malfunctioning to an extent that the ringing sound is heard and people are interpreting that as somebody turning the dial."

Evelyn addresses the phenomenon of footsteps heard by both Amanda's grandmother and the neighbours, noting the significance of having two sets of witnesses: "So we've got two sets of people experiencing the same phenomenon, same noises, having the same reactions and verifying them."

Regarding the cold temperatures experienced in the house, Evelyn suggests a possible scientific or chemical reaction during paranormal phenomena, while Ciarán attributes it to psychological responses, explaining how people can perceive temperature drops more intensely than they actually are.

When discussing the apparition seen by Bryn's mother-in-law, Ciarán considers psychological factors and sleep disruption as possible explanations. Evelyn, however, views this sighting as part of a pattern of childlike haunting, connecting it to the other phenomena in the house: "You've got the interaction with a child's telephone... running up and down the stairs... someone pulling on his feet... a full body apparition of a child."

You can listen to the first four episodes of the new season of 'Uncanny', as well as all of the previous two seasons on BBC Sounds now.

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