“Back off, man! I’m a fantasist!”
Like a rotten egg from a sick duck’s bottom, news broke today of leathery skinned fraud Derek Acorah’s latest desperate grasping attempt to scoop handfuls of money and fame out of other people’s grief by channeling the spirit of Michael Jackson in a live seance. All aboard the spectral money-train! Toot-Toot!
Most people will know Acorah from the Living TV show Most Haunted, a show that made something of a weird household name of Derek, who suddenly turned up on mainstream chatshows and proper TV, which was like tuning into This Morning and seeing Phillip Schofield burping up a sticky length of Victorian ectoplasm. Of course, Derek eventually left the show right after getting busted becoming “possessed” by ghosts that were 1) made up by the production team to catch him out, and 2) anagrams of stuff like “Derek is a lying turd,” and branched out for himself, in cheap looking series that nobody watched. He even came to my town to talk to the ghost of someone who was murdered in the old Smarts Amusements, where nobody has ever died, not even for a laugh.
There’s usually a chorus of mockery whenever I admit to even knowing what Most Haunted is, but let’s be honest, it’s often a lot of fun. The live shows are particularly great, because they’ve now done so many, they’re forced to push the boundaries further and further where we get to the point that, and I’m not making any of this up, on live television, Yvette Fielding regularly performs magickal rites to summon up the Devil, basically challenging him to come and ‘ave a go if he thinks he’s hard enough, and there’s rarely a MH Live that doesn’t involve invoking the worst demon they can find in the nearest dusty grimoire to follow them around and fuck their shit up. In the last live series, they actually burned down a church, so Christ knows how they plan to top themselves this Halloween. Don’t be surprised to flick over to Living TV and see Yvette adjusting her earpiece while calmly suckling Cthulhu at her breast. “…we’re going to take a quick break while I finish sewing this flag I’ve made from the flayed skin of the soundman. Paul Ross, it’s back to you.” While most of it is hokey old toot, occasionally, there’ll be real Blair Witch-style tension, and live TV is the perfect vehicle for these sorts of programs.
Like every paranormal show, it’s all shot in that green nightvision that makes you think every little “ghostly” noise they hear is the offscreen creak of a penis being cranked like a one-armed bandit by Paris Hilton.
Perhaps the single greatest piece of television I’ve ever seen came at the end of Derek Acorah’s final show. For context, Derek was exposed as a fraud in the Daily Mirror, by the production team. It was a really vicious expose, destroying all the credibility he never had in the first place, coincidentally, right as he was due to leave the show and do his own series on the same channel. Rumour had it that Derek was Living TV’s goldenboy, while the production company that made MH wanted him gone because his obvious like-clockwork possessions and blatant cold-reading was hogging the airtime and making them all look like twats. I’m sure that in his mind, he was finally about to break out for himself, into the solo project that would make him a superstar. The piece itself had quotes from Most Haunted’s onscreen parapsychologist, and deftly deflected criticism of the show with the angle that “well, Derek was faking stuff, but we let him go,” although in typical media fashion, Yvette and co got burned with allegations of fraudary too.
But the timing was bad. The article was printed on the day of the first of three nightly live shows. Derek’s contract was up, and everyone knew these would be his final appearances before he moved on, but still, nine hours of live TV lay ahead, where Derek and the ones who had outed him all had to perform together in front of the cameras, and as this was probably MH’s ratings peak, a massive audience. However the show must, and did go on, and there was with no real mention of the article and no obvious signs of tension until the final five minutes of the final night’s show.
It all came down to a face-off between the two stars. Yvette – the former Blue Peter presenter who’d conceived of MH and turned it into an enormous moneyspinning franchise – and Derek – the self-made star of the show, who’d metaphorically shoved her aside to become a 21st century Doris Stokes with Mr. Whippy hair.
As always, Derek was possessed by a ghost, but Yvette wasn’t having it. She asked him his name and various questions, but the usual non-committal answers (“What year did you die?” “1810!” “And who’s the king?” “Er…OH LOOK, JIMI HENDRIX IS ROUND FOR TEA, BYE!”) weren’t cutting it. This wasn’t for info to feed back to the historians in the studio, it was to trip him up, to expose him again on Live TV, in his final few minutes as part of Most Haunted, when everyone would be watching. As always when possessed, Derek pretended to have his eyes closed, but as Yvette was no longer pandering to his mad lies, she gave it the old “how many fingers am I holding up?” Ever the pro, Derek quite obviously peeked out of one eye, and told her how many. Your move. Yvette countered by furiously pointing out that he’d cheated, putting her hand behind her back, and asking again. This is where Derek flustered, for the first time, and started verbally abusing her, like he’d done before while “not in control.” FYI my personal favourite “it weren’t me, boss, it were a ghost” moment was “I SEE YOUR BREASTS, WENCH!” and having a little feel. Anyway, Derek, with his eyes still closed, and still using the generic ghost-voice he uses (they’re all from Liverpool, but half an octave deeper) just gave up and resorted to swanning about, dismissing Yvette’s questioning altogether, because as a ghost, he’s got better things to be doing, like haunting women’s changing rooms or destroying the ballroom at the Sedgwick Hotel.
Under the guise, to the viewing public anyway, of calling the spirit a liar, the final, frantic 90 seconds of the show consisted of Yvette screaming “YOU’RE A LIAR! A FUCKING LIAR! AREN’T YOU, YOU SHIT?! GO ON, ADMIT IT, YOU LIAR!” an inch from Derek’s face, while he hollered back and tried to stay in character. The air was filled with rage, 8 series’ of pent up tensions, and spittle, which most viewers probably thought were orbs. It was all hanging out for the world to see. It was like when you see a married couple having a blazing row in the supermarket about a phone with a flat battery (“It never bloody works! It’s useless!”) while knowing, as they do, they’re actually referring to the husband’s floppy, impotent cock.
Maybe it wasn’t as glorious as it seems when I play it back in my head, and you’d had to have been a nerd who knew all the underlying backstory to get what was going on, but I’d get DPed by The Bushwhackers to see that again.
There’s a pretty frequent advert for Derek’s new series running on Sky, which will be broadcast in HD.
Jesus, it’ll be like watching an old leather handbag topped with a piping of stale ejaculate.
On the subject of mediums and spiritualism, here’s a filthy old webcomic I did along those lines.
~ by Stuart on October 14, 2009.