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Teatime screening of Most Haunted breached TV rules by showing 'psychic' Derek Acorah being possessed by dead child
Possession scenes were deemed too spooky for children
Psychic Derek Acorah 'channeled the spirit' of a dead 9-year-old boy
Sky argued Most Haunted does not have a following with young viewers
Regulator Ofcom said the tone was 'consistently dark and menacing'
18:21 GMT, 18 March 2013
02:16 GMT, 19 March 2013
A particularly spooky episode of paranormal TV show Most Haunted breached the broadcasting code, regulator Ofcom has ruled.
The disturbing show featured psychic Derek Acorah, 62,
being 'possessed' during a seance by a number of people, including a
child who had been whipped and a woman who was said to have murdered children.
Broadcast at 6pm by Pick TV, which is owned by Sky, Acorah reported ghostly presences at Chatham Dockyard in Kent and appeared to channel the spirit of a 9-year-old boy called Barney Little.
'Menacing': TV regulator Ofcom said Most Haunted was too frightening for young viewers when presenter Derek Acorah simulated the presence of a dead 9-year-old boy
Seance: Acorah 'channeled' various spirits in the episode, including a headless drummer boy and the ghost of someone killed in the Tower of London
Ofcom said that the programme's 'consistently dark and menacing' tone could have distressed younger viewers.
The programme portrayed various spirits,
including a headless drummer boy, a grey hovering lady with no feet, and
the ghost of one of the port's commissioners, Peter Pett, who was
killed in the Tower of London.
'Entertainment': Sky argued that Derek Acorah's possession scenes were not presented as factually accurate and that adults understand that
Ofcom ruled that the broadcast breached two rules of the programme code by being screened so early in the evening. The code is supposed to protect children from unsuitable material and to prevent demonstrations of the paranormal before the watershed.
Sky argued that Most Haunted was established as an 'entertainment' programme and it did not have a sizeable audience among children.
However, Ofcom said a 'significant number' of children could have been watching at that time.
While adults may have realised the show was designed for entertainment, younger viewers may not have understood.
Ofcom said the ruling only applied to that edition of the show, screened on October 17 last year, rather than the whole series because the content differed from programme to programme.
It is not the first time Acorah's 'psychic' powers have caused controversy.
Last year he allegedly told The Sun newspaper that missing Madeleine McCann was dead and 'has been over in the spirit world for some time'.
However, Acorah later said he had been misquoted.
Watershed: Television programmes are not supposed to show paranormal activity while children might be watching
Most Haunted clip ruled to early for pre-watershed by Ofcom
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