Guest writer BRIAN JAMES takes a look back at Most Haunted: Oldham Coliseum Theatre
Episode Title: Oldham Coliseum Theatre
Location: Oldham, Greater Manchester
Series: 5 Episode Number: 60
Is the play Macbeth cursed? According popular legend, Shakespeare “borrowed” much of the incantation recited by the trio of witches in act one from some actual spells used by actual witches. Possessing only a passing knowledge in copyright law but an extreme interest in seeing anyone associated with this play get their little thespian asses kicked, the real life witches put a curse on the play that seemed to take effect at the very first performance of MacBeth. The actor playing Lady Macbeth, Hal Berridge, died of a sudden fever before taking the stage. Since that maiden performance mishap, more death has surrounded this play then all the Spinal Tap and Great White performances combined. One of victims of the MacBeth curse still treads the boards of the Oldham Coliseum Theatre.
In 1947, actor Harold Norman was stabbed in the abdomen during Macbeth’s climactic sword fight. The safety tip on the other performer’s rapier had fallen off. Instead of a closing soliloquy and standing ovation, all Mr. Norman got was an ambulance ride to the hospital and painful death from peritonitis. Apparently, it takes more then this to pry a good actor from his spotlight. It is said that he appears every Thursday in the main stage area of the theatre. This is who the Most Haunted crew came to see in the tenth episode of series five.
Yvette Fielding brought her cast, crew, and spiritualists to the Oldham Coliseum Theatre to check out the rumours of hauntings. They were not disappointed.
Both spiritualists, Ian Lawman and Derek Acorah, connected with an entity claiming to be Harold Norman. Acorah’s encounter with him was especially detailed. The entity was not only aware of his own death, but claimed it was no accident. If true, this may be the reason Harold is still hanging around the place of his demise.
Doubt was cast on what Derek was channelling by the show producers themselves. As he is asking, and getting answers, from the spirit, a scroll at the bottom of the screen points out the inaccuracies with the account of Norman’s death Acorah is giving. For example, the spirit Derek communicated with said that he (Harold Norman) died on the stage. In reality the actor passed away at the Oldham Royal Infirmary nearly a month after the accident. The conflicts with the details of the accounts leave the audience plenty of room for scepticism regarding what Derek was presenting to them. The show should be lauded for pointing this out and letting the audience make up their own mind.
While it is up for debate whether a mischievous ghost or a pop-culture spiritualist was playing fast and loose with the truth, the surly spiritual remains of Harold Norman was not the only thing the Most Haunted crew found in the theatre.
Among the potpourri of supernatural events that Yvette and company experienced, the wardrobe department seemed to be a particularly hot spot for dark energy. The spiritualists picked up a rather angry man who had settled in that part of the theatre. There was a point where they asked this entity if it wanted them to leave. In response to the question, a generator spontaneously came to life. This incident became even more profound after a call to the theatre manager who confirmed that the generator was not on any sort of timer.
In an episode that included auditory and scent manifestations, theatre seats mysteriously folding down, orbs, and the crew being fundamentally chased out of the facility by something lurking beneath the stage, this episode had a little something for everyone. Believers and sceptics alike. It does lose some points for not mentioning the Macbeth curse and the especially large body count associated with it. This may have added another layer of intrigue to viewers who were unaware of the dark history associated with the play.
Tell us what you thought of this Most Haunted episode in the comments section below.
BRIAN JAMES grew up just out of bullet range of Detroit. He was raised on the work of Douglas Adams and Snorri Sturluson. Eventually he went on to college where he majored in History. While he never realized his dream to become a heavier version of Indiana Jones, he did wind up writing for a number of magazines, newspapers, websites, and Fortune 500 companies. His new book, Mjolnir, brings the Norse gods into the modern world and follows their exploits as they speed towards Ragnarok.