Adam Curtis – click the tag for more on him – has just blogged “a brief history of the appearance of ghosts and poltergeists and other spirits on television. Not fictional ghosts – but real ones, or the reports of their appearances, that you find in various news and documentary programmes. But as so often when one looks at material in the archives, it turns out that it tells you less about the subjects of the programmes – the ghosts – than about the strange medium that possesses modern society – television.
In 1992 the BBC transmitted a drama that was based on a number of the factual reports I am going to show. The underlying aim of the makers of the drama was not just to frighten, but to demonstrate in a vivid way what had happened to the very idea of reality in television. It was called Ghostwatch, and it caused a national sensation because thousands of viewers believed it was real. And, at the time, the BBC promised never to show it again.
I want to tell the story of the rise of the suburban poltergeist in factual tv from the 1970s onwards, how those reports inspired Ghostwatch, and how the extraordinary reaction on the night Ghostwatch was transmitted in 1992 showed clearly where the real ghosts of our society had now gone to live. They are inside television itself – a strange nether world of PR driven half truths, synthetic personalities, and waves of apocalyptic fear.”
For what comes next, open http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/adamcurtis/2011/12/the_ghosts_in_the_living_room.html + for more on “Ghostwatch“, see also: