A tea time broadcasting of an old episode of Most Haunted at Chatham dockyard has been ruled as in breach of the broadcasting code because alleged psychic Derek Acorah was shown to be supposedly possessed by the spirits of a dead child who had been whipped, as well as the woman who it is claimed was responsible for the death of the child. Ofcom is an independent communications regulator that regulates the TV and radio sectors among others, and investigated the broadcasting of the episode before watershed under Rule 1.27 of the Code that states:
“Demonstrations of exorcisms, occult practices and the paranormal (which purport to be real), must not be shown before the watershed (in the case of television) or when children are particularly likely to be listening (in the case of radio). Paranormal practices which are for entertainment purposes must not be broadcast when significant numbers of children may be expected to be watching, or are particularly likely to be listening.
Adults familiar with the long-running series would have sufficiently understood or decoded these statements, in the very last part of the programme, as questions relating to the veracity of the paranormal events, particularly those encountered by Derek Acorah, in this episode. However, in Ofcom’s view, these statements would not necessarily have been sufficiently clear to younger members of the audience who may be watching unaccompanied or were less familiar with the series and the background of the contributors appearing in it.
In Ofcom’s view, the cumulative effect of the malevolent nature of the spirits who ‘appeared’ either through Derek’s “possessions” or were recounted in the experiences presented, and the repeated references to children being harmed, mistreated or murdered resulted in this particular episode being consistently dark and menacing. Therefore it had the potential to cause distress to younger members of the audience. Further, while an adult may have picked up on the signposting throughout the programme, and particularly in the last five minutes, and concluded the programme was entertainment, children may not have understood this and could have been left feeling fearful of what they had viewed.
Channeling the spirits of the dead in the name of “entertainment”. Grim.