Working with the Devil (TV Production Companies)

by MJ Wayland

I’ve been lucky enough to consult and appear on a number of TV shows from ‘Ghost Hunter’s International’ to ‘Ghost Hunting with’, from ‘Come Dine with Me’ to ‘Four Rooms’ – as you can see a vast range of shows and not all paranormal.  Since my first appearance (BBC’s Kilroy) I have seen how certain people within the paranormal have chased, if not hunted fame.  All my commissions from TV have come from word of mouth or through my database of connections in the TV industry, and certainly haven’t been chased to increase my fame – far from it most people don’t realise that I have even appeared on these shows!  After nearly twenty years of working within this industry I have come to the thought that it is now near impossible to retain your integrity while appearing on these shows.

James Randi discussed working with the media at The Amaz!ng Meeting 2012  last year, he said; “In general the media doesn’t give a damn what they present via television, books, radio or in any public media.  They don’t have any care whether what they are presenting has any truth behind it or not,  just as long it sells sponsor’s goods.  The bottom line is – will the sponsors be happy with it and the sponsors will be happy if lots of people are tuned in…the media doesn’t give a damn. And you have to remember that, they are not going to be on your side if you don’t offer them something in that direction, something they can use commercially.”

And I totally agree with him. The situation in the UK is incredibly similar, less on the sponsors but more on the ratings.  I’ve seen countless really good pilots and ideas be bypassed for more commercially viable, and less believable TV programmes.  Let’s face it, it probably explains why “Ghost Hunting with” on ITV was commissioned.

There are a lot of paranormal investigators out there who chase media and TV appearances not fully realising the implications of appearing on TV or what is expected of them.  I have been present and appeared on several programmes that within a few minutes I have realised there is a possibility that some form of trickery or manipulation will be taking place during the filming.  With ALL the situations I discovered that both the Producer, Director and even the hosts have been party to what is to take place.  Faced with the possibility that this is your or your groups “big chance” are you about to hit social media and blow the lid on the programme?  Well no you are not, twenty minutes earlier you’ve signed a secrecy agreement binding you indefinitely.  At this stage you are following in the footsteps of countless sub-celebrity paranormal experts and mediums who have been coerced into performing for the cameras.

I have seen many people comment on social media and forums about various paranormal TV show hosts and investigators, blaming them for going ahead with alleged fraud and fakery, but not truly understanding the situation the hosts and investigators were placed in during the filming. However some of it is just for the money.

Don’t think for a minute I am defending these people, for every person naively falling into the media trap, there are dozens willing to “sell their family for another fifteen minutes of fame” – that last quote was given to me about one “paranormal expert” from someone like me has seen behind the scenes on many paranormal TV shows.  It is indeed a shark’s world with TV pilots, documentaries and web programming galore being made with the hope that it will be converted to national TV. Who knows who and what can we do.

My biggest issue with all of this is, have they really thought whether their show is for the good of themselves or the paranormal?  It all comes back to James Randi’s quote..

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