Uncanny Case 2: The Bearpark Poltergeist TV REVIEW


Danny Robins heads to County Durham to investigate The Bearpark Poltergeist in the latest episode of Uncanny. GAYLE FIDLER outlines the challenges he faces

Uncanny Case 2: The Bearpark Poltergeist TV REVIEW

Uncanny Case 2: The Bearpark Poltergeist Review

The second episode of the television adaption of Uncanny takes place in a house in the village of Bearpark. Historically Bearpark was a coal mining community in County Durham. The colliery opened in 1872 and closed in 1984. 

Being from County Durham, this episode was one that I was really looking forward to. It is not that often a local haunting gets featured on the BBC! 

Presenter Danny Robins, himself a North East lad introduces viewers to Ian. A secondary school teacher in his mid-50s, now living in York. Ian recounts that what happened to him in Bearpark was “Terror beyond anything that I could really relate”. 

Ian is sincere on screen. He appears emotional at times. A man, who is absolutely recounting his worst nightmare.   “There was something in that house that affected us all.” I couldn’t help but be struck by how brave Ian was telling his story on camera, given his choice of profession and how unforgiving school children can be. 

The Bearpark Poltergeist case began in the 1984 during the miners strikes, A time of great unrest, as mining communities went on strike against Margaret Thatcher’s government. Many families fought for their livelihoods and were plunged into poverty.  

Ian was in his teens when the events in the house took place. His parents (dad being an ex-miner) had built a successful company and moved to The Garth. The ex-colliery managers house, which had been built in 1930.  Ian describes the house move as being almost idyllic. The family now had a large house, with a big garden for the children to play in, which was something they had not had before. 

But it was not long before The Garth stopped being the perfect family home. Ian describes being alone in the house when he first started to hear noises. Footsteps and the sounds of cupboards opening and closing. The footsteps could be heard to walk across the hall and up the stairs. Stopping as they reached the top. 

Ian recalls one incident where a bell box in the hallway that was once used to summon the servants started to act strangely. The flag that indicated someone required attendance in his parent’s room started waving. However, Ian was alone, his parents were out. Ian went upstairs to check. As expected, there was no one there. Ian describes how this became a regular occurrence. 

Then, strange things started to happen in the toilet. The flush would be heard, again when Ian was alone. Ian stated there was no way that this could happen, without being physically flushed. 

On another occasion, Ian was upstairs in his bedroom when he became convinced there was an intruder in the house. Noises from the kitchen below sounded like violent force was being used. Plates being smashed, doors ripped off. Of course, when Ian went to confront the attacker, armed with a can of deodorant for protection. There was no one there and the kitchen was intact. 

Bloody Hell Ian!

“Bloody Hell Ian!” Robins says (for those familiar with the podcast, this became a series tag line after the case of Ken in room 611).

Back near the BBC studios, the panel of experts were waiting to give their take on the case. We once again meet Team Sceptic, psychologist Dr Ciarán O’Keeffe and Team Believer, parapsychologist Evelyn Hollow

Hollow feels that this has all the makings of a classic poltergeist case. “The Holy Grail” of paranormal cases to work on, she states. Warning, these things will “Smash up your house, destroy your life.”

O’Keeffe has a different take. Whilst he believes Ian to be a very credible witness, the case took place during a time of great emotional turmoil for a whole community. Phenomena could have been interpreted as paranormal, when in fact could have been caused by environmental factors.

As Robins deliberates over Team Sceptic and Team Believer, he heads home to his wife to try his own experiment. Much to the detriment of household toilet. Luckily saved by plumber Scott to the rescue, who fixes the Robins family’s leaky flapper. Scott looks slightly bemused as he gives his own thoughts on the mysterious self-flushing toilet back in Bearpark. Not his average day at work I imagine!

As the show progresses, we find out that back in the 1980s, Ian became so desperate for answers that he wrote to The Society for Psychical Research (SPR) to ask for help. Unfortunately, this was soon shut down by Ian’s father, after a phone call from the SPR. However, Robins has been able to verify this event did happen. He contacted the SPR and viewers are shown a copy of Ian’s letter and notes from the phone call. 

The activity at The Garth continued, and Ian talks about an incident that occurred when he was 19. During this incident Ian had been in bed with his sister, after she had become scared. Ian describes his sister falling asleep, and feeling intense pain in his intestines, as if they had been tied. He then goes on to state that the duvet began to get tight across his chest, and he was lifted from the bed. 

Robins asks if Ian was levitating, and Ian replies that he believes he was. O’Keeffe puts this down to sleep paralysis. Hollow sticks with the poltergeist theory. The trickster trying to get Ian’s attention. If that is the case, it certainly succeeded.

Was it sleep paralysis?

Robins’ heads to Cambridge University wearing a rather dashing leopard print cardigan. Meeting with Dr Baland Jalal, who is one of the world’s leading experts on sleep paralysis. Jalal puts Robins to the test in his laboratory. Robins becomes clearly distressed during the experiment and asks for it to be stopped. For anyone who has experienced sleep paralysis themselves, it can be a terrifying experience. Can it explain Ian’s levitation experience however, or was something else at work? 

Robins next stop is Enfield in London, where he meets with photographer Graham Morris. Morris was working for The Daily Mirror newspaper, when he was sent to 284 Green Street to capture the famous poltergeist case on camera.

The Enfield Poltergeist case is well documented, and the pictures Morris took of Janet Hodgson seemingly levitating are still the subject of much controversial debate. In this episode of Uncanny, Morris tells Robins that Janet did not fake the pictures. 

Robins ponders on the paranormal. “It’s all in the eye of the beholder” he says. “A sceptic sees fraud; a believer sees the impossible happening.”

Back at Bearpark, Robins takes a trip to Beamish Open Air Mining Museum, meeting with Dr Vic Clarke, lecturer in Modern British Social History from Durham University. Clarke gives a fascinating insight into the lives and deaths of miners in County Durham.

The Bearpark Poltergeist is certainly an interesting episode. There could be many factors at play here. The house is sited on old pit workings. Could the ghost at The Garth, be that of a child miner who was killed at the colliery? Evelyn Hollow seems to think that this could be a possibility, after sightings of a child were had by Ian’s mum in the house.

Or, are as Ciarán O’Keeffe suggested, environmental factors the cause of the activity? Social unrest, mixed with the complications that come from building houses on old mining sites. Cavernous shafts, meteorology influences and abandoned machinery. 

Are you Team Believer or Team Sceptic? Tell us your thoughts on The Bearpark Poltergeist in the comments section below!

Uncanny is now available on BBC iPlayer.


  1. I think to be a believer you firstly have to be a sceptic, there was no physical proof of anything paranormal at all: All we had to go on was the peoples accounts of what they experienced, because of this it becomes a sceptics bread and butter. I watched the show and i believe 100% the guys account of what he went through but i have my own ideas of what really happened to him and they are again 100% paranormal.


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