Sunday, February 04, 2007

Most Haunted: Was Derek Acorah stitched up?

I am most impressed that Radio 4's religious affairs show, Sunday, this morning got through an item on Living TV's Most Haunted without mentioning the name Derek Acorah. This is the series that sees its presenter/producer Yvette Fielding screaming her way through spooky castles and inns, and Acorah was its resident Spiritualist medium, who turned the show into such a hit with his hysterical "channellings", but who was exposed as a charlatan in 2005 and fired.

Why would Sunday's Roger Bolton choose to ignore the fact of Acorah and the implication of his exposure that Most Haunted was and is predicated on fraudulence? Why draft in the statutory sceptics (psychologists, clergy) to balance the show's claims (that famous BBC fair play thing) and not mention the potential coup de grace in Acorah?

Curiously, Acorah was exposed as a faker by Most Haunted's resident parapsychologist Dr Ciaran O’Keeffe (who's still with the show). He set Acorah up by giving him made-up names of characters whom the medium then purported to communicate with in trance. One of these characters was Rik Eedles, a fictional highwayman - a name which turned out to be an anagram of Derek Lies.

Why would the show decide to test its famous medium when anyone with an ounce of sense could see from the word go that he was just acting? Put another way: Why would the show look a gift horse in the mouth? At the heart of all this is ego. It had become an open secret that Fielding and Acorah couldn't stand each other - Fielding, a talented TV performer, leaves no one in any doubt that she's the star of the show. By 2005 Acorah was The Star. If you look at DVD copies of the show, the mugs of Acorah and Fielding share the covers. Then at some point around 2005, there's just the one mug - Fielding's, with her sexy neo-blonde look and those great infra red-friendly boggle eyes staring out in studied apprehension.

My own information leads me to believe that Acorah was stitched-up to get shot of him - Fielding and the entire crew knew he was just delivering an entertainment - and he was cramping her style. Dr O'Keeffe acted honestly in testing the clairvoyant, but what other result could there be once you apply a bit of scientific methodology to a hoax? Would any of Fielding's mediums pass the O'Keeffe test? Come on, sue me and we'll test them all in court.

Fielding's on the publicity trail at the moment to promote a new Acorah-less series. One journalist I know asked her about Acorah and she simply said she wasn't talking about him. Odd that. What an opportunity for her to say something along the lines: "We are an authentic paranormal show - look, we got rid of Derek!" Instead, she was happy to reveal that she planned a Most Haunted special with the Dingles from the TV soap, Emmerdale - "It'll be in a really spooky place somewhere in Europe and it'll be so camp," she said. Ah, yes: camp. That sums the show up really. That's showbiz!

PS For more on Yvette Fielding and her fakery see Bad Psychics.

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