Tag: Danny Robins

Sleep Tight

Haunted review

Production company – Chalk and Blade/Panoply

Rating –

Just a quick note before I begin. This review has lain half written for a long time, hence the opening paragraph below. This week though, Danny has announced the release of the sequel to The Battersea Poltergeist. This will be starting the day after this post is published, so I figure it’s a rather apt time to get this thing finished. I guess I’m no longer a completionist, at least until the end of the month anyway!

Consider me a completionist. I’ve now completed the Danny Robins trilogy of podcasts. I’d actually looked for this one back when I first heard The Battersea Poltergeist and couldn’t find it. Probably because I thought it was also released by the BBC. Thanks to a Facebook post, I found it and eagerly downloaded the whole series, ready to binge.

So what’s it about?

In a similar vein to the previously reviewed Uncanny, each episode features a different true story of ghosts and hauntings. People contact the show and get to tell their own creepy stories of the paranormal.

As with Uncanny, these aren’t run of the mill cliché type ghost stories. The stories told here are next level in the creepiness department. And the tension really ratchets up as the series progresses. The final story of the series is truly terrifying, and one that wouldn’t really be matched until halfway through Uncanny.

This series also features legendary Parapsychologist Ciarán O’Keeffe, a somewhat stabilising influence, as he has been since trying to lend legitimacy to the TV series Most Haunted. His critical mind usually finds some possible mundane explanation, and my personal thoughts on this aren’t really relevant. I’m not a Parapsychologist, so what do I know! His take on things though is always interesting, particularly his comments on false memories. I also just realised I’d always spelled his name wrong! I’ve now corrected this here, and in the Uncanny review. Sorry Ciarán!

Is it any good?

Absolutely. Danny Robins knows how to make a good podcast. His genuine amazement at the stories is infectious and really adds to the atmosphere. He also walks the fine line between believer and skeptic with great skill.

The main difference between this show and Uncanny is the lack of audience interaction, whereas Uncanny had lots of listeners contacting the show with extra information about the cases. This is probably because it was a totally new show and (please forgive me if I’m wrong), but Danny Robins was a rather unknown quantity when this podcast was released. It also means he has to trawl through library records to research the cases rather than crowd source it.

Final thoughts

Listening to this series after hearing Danny’s more recent work is like discovering the early albums of a favourite band. You can hear all of the familiar elements you know and love, but the production is not quite as polished and there is more of an “attitude” that changes as the band gets more established. But enough of the tenuous music analogies. This is another great podcast from Danny Robins, and as I’ve said before, I can’t wait to hear what’s coming up next. His involvement in a series is enough for me to immediately subscribe.

In the interest of getting my damn facts straight, I decided to listen to this series again. So I did. The whole thing in a day. It’s still as creepy as it was the first time I listened. If that’s not recommendation enough, then I don’t know what is.

You can listen to Haunted here:

https://www.dannyrobins.com/haunted

Or wherever you get your podcasts.

Bloody Hell Harold

The Battersea Poltergeist review

Production company – BBC

Rating –

Battersea Poltergeist logo

I know I’ve already reviewed Uncanny, but this was my introduction to the brilliant Danny Robins. It cropped up in the recommendations in BBC sounds and it sounded interesting, so I gave it a go. As soon as the first episode started, I knew this was something special and I knew I was going to love it.

So what’s it about?

Everyone has heard of the film Poltergeist. Fewer people have heard of the real life case of The Enfield Poltergeist. Even fewer have heard of The Battersea Poltergeist. This is unfortunate, the Battersea case was somewhat overshadowed by the more infamous events at Enfield. While Enfield was certainly interesting, Battersea was equally terrifying and equally unexplainable. It was also nearly 20 years before Enfield.

This is probably the reason why it’s almost forgotten. By the 1970s, Britain was paranormal crazy. There were books, TV shows and films all cashing in, but in the post war society of the 50s there was a more pragmatic or sceptical approach to such claims.

In 1956, 15 year old Shirley Hitchings and her family started experiencing strange phenomena that would last an incredible 12 years. I say incredible, because the events at Enfield only lasted a few months. The case starts innocuously enough, as poltergeist cases usually do. Shirley found a silver key on her pillow, one that didn’t fit any locks in the house. Soon the whole family is being constantly terrorised, and the playful nature of the early events is gone.

The spirit (known as Donald) was responsible for moving furniture, throwing things and even starting a fire in the house. As the series progresses, it’s also heavily hinted that it was responsible for the death of Shirley’s Grandmother.

The podcast is a dramatisation of the events in question, interspersed with narration by Danny Robins. It follows the borderline obsessive investigation of the case by Harold Chibbett, played by the incredible Toby Jones. Dafne Keen, who has a long list of credits for someone so young, plays Shirley.

Is it any good?

Anything with Toby Jones is going to be excellent. I don’t think he’s done anything that was sub par. Also, anything by Danny Robins seems to be well worth your time too. As you’ll no doubt remember from my earlier review, I’m something of a fanboy.

Danny Robins actually has boxes of Chibbetts’ original case files and notes, and this is the basis of the series. During the course of the series Danny is holed up in his shed, surrounded by all the papers, and just like Chibbett decades before, the obsession is somewhat contagious. At one point Danny himself complains that his family are missing him due to the time he spends poring over the evidence.

The production values are high enough that you really get an immersive experience, and all the actors are doing an amazing job. The cast features lots of familiar voices, not just Jones’ and there is as much tension here as any good TV show or film. Actually there is more tension here, mainly because there aren’t any good TV shows or films being made. It seems that if you want a genuinely creepy experience nowadays, then you need to look towards podcasts and radio shows.

As well as the horror of the events, there is a real pathos here as well. There are a lot of people living in the house, and all the family members are put under an immense amount of stress. This is also very well portrayed by the cast, as is their suspicion of Harold when he first starts investigating. Poor Harold has to not only figure out exactly how to try and find out about the spirit, but he also has to try and gain the trust of some of the family.

Final thoughts

As with all BBC productions, it’s a joy to listen to. As is the case by now, Danny Robins’ excitement is contagious, as is his disbelief at the phenomena that occur.

If you’re interested in ghost stories, then you’ll love it. There is nothing not to like here. This is a great investigation into a little known (or rather, little known when this was originally released) case of poltergeist activity.

You can get The Battersea Poltergeist here:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p0940193

Or wherever you get your podcasts

I know what I saw

Uncanny review

Production company – BBC Sounds/Bafflegab

Rating –

Uncanny logo

Originally, the title of this review was going to be called “Bloody hell ken”, but then it turns out the last episode was called that so I had to change it last minute to the rather less inspired one you can see a few hundred pixels above this paragraph.

This is the first of what will be a few reviews of paranormal podcasts (not all at once though, I’ve got other half written blatherings to publish first!). I know I’ve reviewed podcasts with similar themes in the past, but this is a true, all out paranormal series. It’s also very creepy.

So what’s it about?

This is the latest podcast presented by Danny Robins. He’s also known for the brilliant “Battersea Poltergeist” (which I will be reviewing here soon). Rather than focusing on one case, this is more freeform, with each episode examining a different case sent in by listeners. These range from a bizarre UFO tale, to very creepy true stories of hauntings. Each episode is usually an interview with the person concerned. As the story progresses it gets examined by parapsychologists and skeptics, (including the legendary Ciarán O’Keeffe), who weigh in on various aspects and discuss possible causes for the phenomena. Listeners also get to write in to the show with any relevant information they might have about previous cases.

Is it any good?

Yes. If there’s one thing the BBC does well, it’s podcasts. As I said, I heard about Danny Robins when the Battersea Poltergeist was released and after that finished, I couldn’t wait for his new project. As soon as the first episode dropped I subscribed and looked forward to each new case.

You can tell that Danny’s really interested in the subject and in almost every episode his mind is blown by the claims of the people he’s interviewing (hence the title of the final episode). He also seems to get creeped out very easily during the interviews. I can understand this, as two in particular are perfect horror film material in themselves.

The production quality is good, but not overly polished. This is great because it gives the episodes an air of spontaneity. It’s not poor enough to be unlistenable or amateurish, nor is it super audiophile studio production. It really does sound like Danny is just recording things as they happen, or as he thinks of them. This was especially true in the Battersea Poltergeist which had an almost “Ghostwatch” feel in places (and quite understandably so).

I honestly can’t wait for series two (hopefully they’ll make one), because this show is a real refreshing change to the usual ghost story podcasts, but more of that in future reviews. This is the benchmark for paranormal podcasts.

Final thoughts

There are an awful lot of “true ghost story” podcasts out there of varying degrees of quality. Both this one, and Battersea Poltergeist are well worth your time. Danny Robins is a great presenter, and the skeptics and believers who appear on the show are also very engaging.

I think the thing that sets this apart from other series’ is that these won’t be stories you’ve heard before. Most paranormal podcasts will focus on the famous locations around Britain, analysed and investigated for decades. Maybe this is why it’s so good. I defy anyone to still get a shudder from Leap Castle, the Tower of London or Berkeley Square etc. Poltergeist activity in a remote Scottish bothy however is fresh. And scary.

Whether you believe in the paranormal or not is not for me to discuss here. But nevertheless, this show is undeniably a five brain podcast and very binge worthy indeed. Even if you listen to it, just scoff and say “yeah yeah, whatever Danny, these guys are having you on” I think you’ll still enjoy the creepy tales. I mean, a scary story is a scary story, whether it’s true or not.

You can get Uncanny here

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/brand/m0010x7c

Or wherever you get your podcasts

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