Thursday 29 October 2009


Saturday October 31st 1992 was a memorable day for me. I had always been an avid supporter of Halloween particularly the custom of ‘Trick or Treating’. Being 12 I (reluctantly) announced that this was to be the final time and I was retiring from ‘Trick or Treating. But, as there was no school the next day I could stay out as long as I wanted! The night was mine and this was going to be the big one!
However, I decided to be back home by 9:00pm because there was a television show that had caught my interest it was called GhostWatch.

Having previously viewed the BBC's CrimeWatch and Badger Watch we thought this show was in the same vein. And so with the faint smell of the turnip jack lantern’s candle burning out in the air we sat down as a family to watch the show. We missed the credits at the beginning believing that the show was ‘live’ were convinced that we could see the shape of a figure behind the curtains. I remember being engulfed in the show, turning to my parents and saying, “If this is real we are watching television history!” As the show progressed and Pipes unleashed his power and all hell broke loose it became apparent to us that it wasn’t real but we enjoyed the programme nevertheless.

I was right though, it did make television history. Stephen Volk’s Ghostwatch became one of the most controversial British television events ever. The BBC was undated with phone calls and letters from viewers both angry and scared. They were criticised by the newspapers for terrifying the Nation and so the BBC after assuring everyone that Michael Parkinson and Sarah Greene were safe vowed to never repeat the show again. After many years of wishing that I had recorded it and discussing it with others that also remembered it I was delighted to discover that British Film Institute had released it on DVD! 17 years later I was finally able to sit down and watch it again, all the memories of that Halloween night came flooding back to me!

There are behind-the-scenes information on the dvd along with a photo of actor Keith Ferrari made up as Pipes in all his glory! I couldn’t resist sketching him standing behind Michael Parkinson on the Ghostwatch set, and so ‘Ghostwatching’ became my little tribute to my favourite Halloween special.

Fans of the film will also be interested to know of filmmaker Richard Lawden's project Ghostwatch: Behind the Curtains a retrospective documentary about the programme that is currently in production.
Show your support and visit the site, share your memories of October 31st 1992… Happy Halloween

© Arfon Jones 2009. All images are copyrighted throughout the world

Thursday 15 October 2009

So long and thanks for all the fish…

Courtesy of the Guardian
Sunday the 11th October Beth and I embarked on The Southbank Centre in London wearing dressing gowns and carrying towels. We attended Hitchcon 09 an event celebrating 30 years of the ever-popular sci-fi comedy, The Hitchiker’s Guide To The Galaxy and its creator the late, great Douglas Adams. Commemorative towels with “A hoopy frood always knows were his towel is” printed on were given to the first 150 fans that arrived in their dressing gowns we were then invited to join the largest-ever photocall of Hitchhiker’s fans outside the Centre. We looked over the Thames as the press photographed everyone in high spirits holding out their thumbs and waving their towels in the air. Having had a cup of tea we then entered the Centre where an exhibition of Hitchhiker’s memorabilia and props from the TV series were on display accompanied by the Bath which Douglas Adams claimed he would lie in when he was stuck for ideas. I had the pleasure of meeting the man responsible for the animated sequences in the TV series Mr Rob Lord who kindly signed a picture of a Babel Fish for me. We then took our seats for ‘The Douglas Adams Chat Show’ hosted by Clive Anderson who interviewed a panel of Hitchhiker’s experts and friends of Douglas Adams Simon Jones (Arthur Dent) Simon Brett (producer of the original radio series) Dirk Maggs and Ed Victor (Douglas Adams' agent) they shared fascinating stories about the great man, his work and his legacy. Simon Jones was then on hand meeting and greeting and signing autographs.

Eoin Colfer author of Artemis Fowl was commissioned to write a the sixth book in the Hitchhiker’s series which he had gladly accepted. He gave an exclusive reading from And Another Thing… at the event he later signed copies of the book offered to fans a day before the official release date. Then came the main event! The original radio cast of The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy were reunited for a special one-off performance adaptation by Dirk Maggs! Joining Simon Jones were Geoffrey McGivern (Ford Prefect) Mark Wing-Davey (Zaphod Beeblebrox) Stephen Moore (Marvin) and Susan Sheridan (Trillian) accompanied by Andrew Sachs as the narrator and Harry Shearer as Slartibartfast with Dirk Maggs providing the sound effects! The cast re-created classic moments from the saga delivering fan favourite lines and singing ‘Marvin The Paranoid Android’ The show ended with the cast taking their bows acknowledging a photograph of Douglas Adams projected overhead to a standing ovation from the audience. A truly magical performance enjoyed by all.

© Arfon Jones 2009. All images are copyrighted throughout the world


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