Colin Manford

Colin Manford

Brother of Jason, who started his own stand-up career in 2007 and is now a circuit regular.
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We ain't afraid of no ghost!

Comics to spend the night in a haunted house

It sounds like the premise for a B-movie… but a group of comedians are to spend the night in a haunted house.

The stand-ups accepted the challenge from Barry Dodds, a fellow comic and amateur ghost-hunter, after they teased him over his hobby.

He dared them to spend the night in 30 East Drive in Pontefract, reputedly the home of the most violent poltergeist in Europe, and eight rose to the challenge.

The apparently unremarkable semi-detached council house inspired the 2012 film When The Lights Went Out, after the director learned how the Pritchard family were driven from the property in 1972 after being plagued by banging doors, loud knocking and mighty thuds. In the most shocking incident, the daughter, Diane was reportedly dragged screaming up the staircase by invisible hands that clutched at her neck.

Now Caimh McDonnell, Phil Ellis, Colin Manford, Sam Gore, Louise Conran, Peter Vincent, Christina Martin and Graham Goring are to spend 12 hours in the haunted property.

Dodds, pictured, said: 'In my spare time, I'm a ghost hunter and have been for many years. This has of course been met with much ridicule from many comics. So a few weeks ago, I put it out there on Facebook to see if anyone would come and spend the night with me in a haunted house – and the spaces filled up very quickly.'

Dodds says he has been interested in the paranormal since he was a teenager, and has now amassed a collection of equipment such as a full spectrum camera, which responds to ultraviolet and infrared light, and an EMF reader that detects electromagnetic fields.

Although strictly a hobby, he has built up enough of a reputation that people send him photographs of unexplained phenomenon. He says most have earthly explanations, but the 'one per cent' that don't fascinate him.

'I prefer to try to find a logical explanation because that makes it all the more interesting when you say you genuinely don't know,' he said.

Dodds explained that he chose 30 East Drive 'because it's not a haunted castle but a normal 1950s council house in Pontefract.'

He says he's often gone on organised hunts that turn out to be 'full of psychic nonsense and overblown hype. I want to just sit and wait and see what happens'.

Dodds says his most chilling paranormal experience was at Chillingham Castle in Northumberland – but not on one of his regular ghost-hunting trips there, just a family getaway to celebrate his 30th birthday.

'We were just sitting having drinks by the open fire and there was the biggest bang. We turned around and there was a brass peacock on a big oak table which had been thrown which such force that it span off into the kitchen, an it was still spinning. But my mum would have been so scared, so I had to make light of it…

'And often when I stay in Chillingham [described as most haunted castle in Britain], I hear voices in the middle of the night.'

Comics making the forthcoming trip to Pontefract range from 'absolutely adamant' sceptics, to more open-minded comics

Phil Elis said: 'I must admit that I'm sceptical but, like Barry, I'm also a big fan of horror films, so couldn't resist the chance to see one or more of my friends be consumed by the supposed spirit that lives there. It's also a good opportunity to try and contact nanna to find out where she stashed all of her savings just before she passed away.

'More seriously, I also want to see Barry use all of his weird gizmos in an attempt to get concrete evidence of a ghost. I'm also hoping that at least one of us will have a full blown breakdown. Comedians aren't well known for their mental stability are they?'

Colin Manford added: 'The main reason I'm doing it is I'm not really a believer in anything after the death but I really want to be, and seeing is believing for me. So I'm really hoping to be proved wrong and I'm looking forward to some paranormal activity! .'

However not all the group are sceptics, with Graham Goring saying: 'I'm a believer and have been ever since I saw a ghost as a child.'

He added: 'I can't wait for this opportunity to shit myself in the company of friends, and fully expect us to record scientifically incontrovertible proof of the afterlife during our stay.

'Worst-case scenario, we cobble the footage together and release a passable rip-off of Ghostbusters to cash-in the proper movie's publicity juggernaut next year.'

Here's a trailer for When The Lights Went Out:

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Published: 13 May 2015



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