Uncanny reveals the world of real-life hauntings

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Friday: Uncanny (BBC2, 9pm)

October is ‘spooky season’, as we count down towards Halloween.

Not only that, but this is also Friday 13th – that has to count double in the spookiness stakes. The last Friday 13th of October was 2017, and it won’t happen again until 2028, so it feels worth doing something suitably spectral to celebrate.

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And when it comes to spooks, Danny Robins is the UK’s go-to ghost guy.

Danny RobinsDanny Robins
Danny Robins

He’s the man behind Radio 4’s smash-hit Uncanny podcast, as well as The Battersea Poltergeist and Witch Farm, and the award-winning West End play 2:22 – A Ghost Story.

Before he broke into the world of real-life hauntings, Robins was primarily a comedian and writer. He penned Radio 4’s cosy sitcom A Cold Swedish Winter, based on his life after meeting his Swedish wife and subsequently living in the country.

Then, what had obviously been a personal interest – the supernatural – changed his professional life entirely. He wrote and presented The Battersea Poltergeist, which was the true story of a London haunting in 1956 presented as documentary alongside dramatised reenactments, with voice acting from Dafne Keen (His Dark Materials) and Toby Jones.

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The series was frankly terrifying. But what happened next was astonishing.

Robins was inundated with emails, letters and phone calls from people from all walks of life, detailing their own paranormal experiences. He made no appeal for such information, but it came anyway. In droves.

The result was Uncanny. Robins featured these people’s stories, and investigated them himself. He would be joined each episode by two experts, inevitably one from “Team Sceptic” and “Team Believer”, each with their own ideas and potential explanations.

Uncanny has been played almost five million times on BBC Sounds and with three million downloads on other platforms globally. With this sort of reach, he not only hears new stories but also ones which tie in with hauntings he has already covered. People will get in touch to say they has been at a featured location too, at a different time, and have stories of their own.

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The podcast’s immense success has also had another inevitable consequence: a branch out into TV.

This three-part initial series (if the podcast is anything to go by, subsequent series and follow-up episodes are inevitable; response from the community is ingrained into the DNA of the format) will feature real-life stories of experiences that seem to defy logical explanation.

Speaking ahead of the show, Robins says: “I’ve been blown away by the response to Uncanny. We’ve built an incredible community around the show, many of whom never realised how interested in the paranormal they were! I’m incredibly excited to get the chance to both continue the podcast and adapt it for TV, as we explore that biggest of all questions – ‘do ghosts exist’? I promise it will be scary and fascinating in equal measure – so, do you dare watch?”.

Heed the warning – particularly if you consider yourself “Team Sceptic”, for you may find your convictions tested…

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