Podcast – Ghostwatching

Publicity photo of Mike Smith, Michael Parkinson and Sarah Greene on set of Ghostwatch (1992)

In the 1930s Orson Welles frightened the US with his radio version of War of the Worlds, in the 1990s Stephen Volk and Leslie Manning terrified the UK with their mockumentary Ghostwatch.
28 years later the CinePunked team explore the film and its lasting legacy on popular culture. 

Sleeve notes are below.

With Robert JE Simpson, Ben Simpson and David L Rattigan.

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You can leave your thoughts on the episode via the comments below, or on any of our social media channels, or leave a review on iTunes.

Episode URL: https://player.whooshkaa.com/episode?id=752294

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CinePunked : Ghostwatching

2020 has been a strange old year. As most of you are aware, CinePunked saw its entire programme of events curtailed with the onset of the pandemic, and while we carried on working and indeed recorded several episodes of the podcast, we’ve also been taking some time to reset ahead of a series of virtual festival events and workshops.

With all the horror-related activities thrown my way this year, I thought I’d take the opportunity to reopen the podcast with a horror-themed special for Halloween, aiming to release on the 28th anniversary of the first broadcast of Ghostwatch – a film I distinctly recall watching on its original broadcast back on 31 October 1992.

This episode came together very quickly. Earlier in October, Ben and I were engaged to do a little work on an another mockumentary-focussed project, during which Ghostwatch came up in conversation. Ben has never seen it, and I realised then we had a perfect opportunity to explore something that was (I think rightly) viewed as a phenomenon of its day. I asked if he’d be up for it, and gave him one instruction only – that he had to actually sit down without interruption – for I knew there were many visual moments that would otherwise be lost.

At the time of recording, Rachael is on maternity leave and so wouldn’t be able to join us for a recording – adjusting as she is to the arrival of a newborn. And so I turned to one of my longest-serving collaborators and dear friends, writer and critic David L Rattigan. We’ve been chatting with David for a couple of years now about some collaborative CinePunked pieces, but the pandemic has delayed those. And so joining us for the podcast seemed like a perfect opportunity. David was my co-editor on the first couple of years of Diabolique magazine, so we’re well versed in each other’s nuances, and the horror genre itself. 

As chance would have it, I’d also been able to book David for the Isolation of Horror panel we recorded for the Dark Hedges Film Festival this month, so with his second appearance for us, David officially becomes part of the extended CinePunked family. (We really need to invest in some Blue Peter-type badges for this!). Its a joy to be working with him again.

Its a rare thing for us to have an all-male panel too, something we would try and avoid where possible. I hope regulars will excuse this – its something that will happen from time to time owing to the make-up of the core group, availability of guests, and indeed having the right person for the topic at hand. Diversity of representation is something we care about and are constantly striving to improve. 

The episode itself explores the effectiveness of the drama, the presentation of the period, and its lasting impact on popular culture. We barely scrape the surface, but if your appetite is whetted, might I suggest paying a visit to the Ghostwatch: Behind the Curtains website, where a vast array of additional information is available. 

Incidentally, the publicity photo we’ve used for the episode title card is a very familiar one, but it always gets printed in reverse – a careful watch of the hairlines in the episode shows that, and so I’ve flipped it back to how it should look. These things matter! 

Owing to the complexities of the pandemic, we recorded this episode via zoom. David’s audio is taken from the Zoom feed, Ben’s and mine have been replaced with our separate studio feeds. A video version will be added to our YouTube channel in due course. 

Ben, Robert and David recording the Ghostwatching podcast via zoom

Recorded live via zoom in Comber and Newtownards, Northern Ireland and Liverpool, England on 28 October 2020.
Engineered and edited by Robert JE Simpson and first published on 31 October 2020.


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