Guy Lyon Playfair

Friday, January 5, 2007 by

I think I’m always going to be interested in the Enfield poltergeist.

I first came across the case in one of those huge supernatural books from the local library. I was about 11 or so and genuinely freaked out by the pictures of Janet springing out of her bed. Not particularly because of the possibility of a malevolent spirit, more because the whole thing looked so utterly, utterly ’70s. Not the ’70s of glam rock and space dust, but the ’70s of industrial action, council houses. Autumnal colours and huge geometric patterns on the wall. The ’70s of Peter Sutcliffe and Donald ‘Black Panther’ Neilson.

I’m returned to that unsettling place thanks to a preview disc from Channel 4. As part of their unpromisingly-named “Occult Week” season, we have Interview With a Poltergeist a maddeningly inconclusive look at the Enfield affair some three decades on. And, oh my God, it’s all here. Paranormal investigator Maurice Grosse looks every bit the be-whiskered crackpot expert you’d expect from the era. Meanwhile his co-investigator hits all the right notes simply through dint of his name: Guy Lyon Playfair. There’s twin beds, a convertible Jag, a burly next door neighbour called Vic (blokes aren’t called Vic anymore, are they?) and a witness statement from “the baker’s roundsman”.

“Maddeningly inconclusive”, I said. But to be fair, that’s no fault of the documentary-makers, whose even-handed efforts doom them to a hung jury. 

And as for Janet herself, well, commendably the crew catch up with her today. Scarily, she’s still got the most 1970s face ever. It’s all too unsettling. But not as unsettling as this photo of her back in her prime. Or maybe it’s just me who gets spooked by this sort of thing.

Anyway, that’s Interview With a Poltergeist, Channel 4, January 24.

UPDATE: This show’s now been moved back two weeks in the schedules.


Comments are closed.