52 mins approx
Reality TV thing
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Ghost hunting with The Only Way Is Essex (2011)
12th Dec 11
Six pampered stars of TV’s The Only Way is Essex soil their undergarments when taken around a haunted location.
Back in May 2002 former Blue Peter presenter Yvette Fielding created, along with Karl Beattie, spooky TV success Most Haunted. Lasting an incredible fourteen seasons and one hundred and eighty five episodes the show was officially axed by Sky Living in August 2011 ending it's run of Blair Witchstyled antics as Fielding and chums looked into the camera with their best terrified expression as unseen shocks caused them to nearly wet their knickers.
Taking in notorious haunted spots around the UK and Ireland as well as other parts of the world, usually with a guest medium in tow, it found an audience willing to believe that the supposed supernatural antics onscreen were for real. For the rest of us it made for a cheerily daft lightweight hour’s worth of chuckling as we watched grown-ups all psyched up for a scare that the viewer seldom sees.
Most Haunted Live opened up the show’s format broadcasting, as the title says, live and would do so over a couple of nights. Second-rate celebrities were soon invited to get in on the act adding their own blend of nonsense to proceedings as anyone who witnessed former Coronation Street star Julie Goodyear suddenly develop clairvoyant tendencies and pull faces to demonstrate this, which was akin to watching someone straining to squeeze out a massive poo, will attest to.
Celebrity involvement lead to yet another variation on the brand with Ghosthunting With... which started up in 2006. Rather than a random bunch of semi-famous names being taken into dark, creepy places Ghosthunting With... entertained celebrities within the groupings they were best known for each show. Girls Aloud were first to do so in 2006 and were followed by the dubious likes of The Dingles from TV’s Emmerdale in 2007 and even more bizarrely those crazy Happy Monday boys back in 2009.
This September it was the turn of a collective from The Only Way is Essex. For those unfamiliar with this British TV show, and one would imagine that fortunately this would be an awful lot of you, The Only Way is Essex, or TOWIE for short, is an award-winning show, no really a BAFTA no less, that shows and we quote "real people in modified situations, saying unscripted lines but in a structured way."
From watching this edition of Ghosthunting With... the six selected from TOWIE are a likeable and susceptible bunch responding to each planned ‘shock’ with the expected jumps and shrieks. From the group’s alpha male James "Arge" Argent (according to the needless involvement of psychologist Geoff Beattie), recent I’m a Celebrity Get Me out Of Here contestant Mark Wright, pampered pretty boy Joey Essex, camp youngster Harry Derbridge, and the girls Amy Childs and Sam Faiers there’s a pleasing mix of characters for presenter Fielding to subject to a wodge of allegedly paranormal surprises.
Fielding has invited the six of them to join her in investigating Essex’s Coalhouse Fort’s numerous tunnels and rooms. The fort was completed in 1874 and not surprisingly, given it was rebuilt by the Royal Commission on the Defence of the United Kingdom as a coastal defence, most of the ghosts reported there happen to be those of soldiers, who evidently take a shine to Jordan wannabe Amy and the less-shakeable Sam by playing with the girls’ hair any chance they get.
There’s one particularly pissed off spectre which lurks in what used to be the washrooms that starts off by chucking light bulbs and the odd small stone about our freaked out investigators before flinging the odd chair about too. All of which happens pretty much out of frame and as Yvette helpfully tells our shaking TOWIE stars activity such as a chair being thrown never happens when you’re staring in the direction of the ghost but when you turn away. Convenient that! But then it should come as no surprise that UK TV regulator Ofcom has deemed Most Haunted and it’s offspring as ‘an entertainment show, not a legitimate investigation into the paranormal.’
Still for those willing to buy into Ghosthunting With... brand of spooky fun there’s plenty of laughs to be had watching our normally pampered and tanned stars losing it as supernatural occurrences take place around them draining our TOWIE stars of their usual orange colour to a ghostly shade of white. With Yvette splitting them up into pairs to even having ‘Arge’ strapped down in a chair away from the rest of the group, every shriek, ‘Shut up’ and declaration of pounding hearts is caught by the show’s night vision camera right up till when two of the group head out of the haunted premises early saying they can’t take much more.
For fifty-two minutes be prepared to be entertained by Mark Radcliffe’s piss-taking voiceover and to laugh your tits off as six people shame themselves into believing each fake shock flung their way no doubt leaving them all with a dire need for a change of dampened/soiled underwear. They are a gullible and endearing bunch and therefore the perfect choice for such a show. It’s a shame there’s not more to the disc. It’s crying out for more footage and perhaps a small feature detailing the history of Coalhouse Fort for those spook fans that would probably entertain visiting there for one of their annual Halloween event evenings.
Fans will be pleased to hear that in November 2011 it was announced that Most Haunted: The Next Generation will be on air sometime in 2012. Until then they should seek out this lightweight but compulsive bubble of supernatural ‘happenings’ armed with a few drinks to fully enter into the spirit, pun intended, in which such a show is intended. And even better there’s not a vajazzle in sight!