Review: Ghostwatch – Behind the Curtains / Cert: E / Director: Rich Lawden / Starring: Sarah Greene, Sir Michael Parkinson, Mike Smith, Craig Charles, Stephen Volk / Release Date: Out Now
In 1992, on Halloween night, the BBC aired a drama which would become legend. Played out as a live broadcast, Ghostwatch would become one of the most complained about shows in the Beeb's history, with a newspaper- ed storm and backlash which made the company all but disown it. If you haven't seen this remarkable piece of television, you owe it to yourself to buy the DVD. If you have, this well made look behind the scenes will be of great interest.
Lawden has managed to coax the majority of the main talent involved, from in front of and behind the camera, to talk about their experiences in making what would become television folklore. The fact that Parkinson and the (still) real life couple Green and Smith are still so passionate about the show is testament to its quality. Sadly, there are no clips (due to licensing costs, this being a low budget labour of love), but this means that there is more time for stories and background titbits, which are anyway much more interesting than rehashed moments taken out of context. This is an ideal accompaniment to the show, and in a perfect world it would be an extra on the DVD release, but for fans it is worth the extra purchase.
The only real negative would be the lack of a spread of opinion. All the interviewees here are fans, from Kim Newman to Andy Nyman and people who watched it when they were kids. It would nice to have heard from some naysayers, but this in no way detracts from the enjoyment of the documentary.
At 90 minutes, it's as long as the original drama but doesn't feel padded and, thanks to the tight editing of the original Ghostwatch director Lesley Manning, there is very little repetition, something that usually happens when several people tell their side of the same story.