TV review: Long Night at Blackstone, BBC One Scotland
- Brian Donaldson
- 29 March 2018
This Greg Hemphill-directed parody on horror conventions tickles rather than chills
The ghost-hunt TV format has been spoofed by everything from the landmark Ghostwatch in 1992, which was so scary that it's never been re-shown, to Vic 'n' Bob's Mostly Unhaunted sketches (whose lack of repeats might be down to something less effective). But in BBC Scotland's one-hour drama Long Night at Blackstone, writers Donny McLeary and Greg Hemphill (who also directs) prove that there's still a bit of comedic life left in raising the dead.
Ghost Haunt Live is a rickety paranormal activity show where all the frights are invented and manipulated. Set for the axe, its team (headed by Lorraine McIntosh's jaded Faye Bowers, John Gordon Sinclair's preposterous, goateed Pat Tomorrow, and Lewis Howden's health and safety-obsessed camera operator Charlie) are pondering their unsure futures while plundering the sinister past. Given one final shot at gory, they head for Blackstone Manor run by an eccentric and sleazy laird (John Michie) whose home might, for once, actually be possessed by active and deadly ghouls. And for this grand finale there's a mystery guest in tow who, once you discover their identity, feels simultaneously an odd choice and also completely perfect.
Most of the scary sections are played reasonably straight (the inevitable classic horror film references include Don't Look Now and The Blair Witch Project) while the moments when we're expected to jump out of our seats are so textbook as to be banal and, as per the genre, a staircase gallery of family portraits contains a big clue hidden in plain sight. Thankfully, the show is well saved with some funny lines and delightful comedic twists: there's a neat spin on the traditional motif of strangers entering a bar-room full of locals, while Michie enjoyably plays on the laird's well-heeled arrogance. Long Night at Blackstone might not have you shivering to the core but it's pleasing on the funny bones all the same.
Long Night at Blackstone is on BBC One Scotland, Mon 2 Apr 9pm.