Well, uh, we won’t be sleeping tonight! If you’re interested in the prospect of never sleeping again, BBC Sound’s “Uncanny” is the place to turn. Danny Robins investigates real-life paranormal encounters told to him by the people who experienced them. From sinister apparitions to paranormal forces, UFOs and dark powers that may or may not have come back from the grave, “Uncanny” spooked us straight out of our seats. Danny explores whether or not these experiences were scientific abnormalities or unexplainable paranormal encounters in this podcast.
“Uncanny” has just one season so far, consisting of 15 episodes. These episodes don’t necessarily need to be listened to in any order, although some episodes revisit earlier ghost stories to ponder listener-submitted theories or other similar experiences. Episodes are a short and sweet 30 minutes.
This podcast is derived from an earlier podcast Danny hosted, “The Battersea Poltergeist.” It’s the true story of a paranormal cold case that’s one of Britain’s strangest hauntings. As a part of it, he asked listeners to send him their own experiences with strange encounters that have haunted them ever since. “Uncanny” is a recounting of their stories. These people themselves tell us their stories, from terrifying hauntings to UFOs, mysterious beasts, and dark folklore, while Danny and a team of experts try to find an explanation for what happened. Danny has just one question for us: are you Team Believer or Team Skeptic?
The first episode episode is a story from Ken, a highly respected geneticist, who doesn’t believe in ghosts except for the one that haunted him in room 611. As a student in Belfast 40 years ago, he and his roommate both experienced the same sinister apparition that exuded evil. After experiencing two separate and equally disturbing instances, Ken decided to find the two boys who had lived in the dorm room the year before. As it turns out, they had eerily similar experiences, from books flying across the room to dark apparitions appearing. The next year, two boys approached Ken with similar experiences.
To discuss the plausibility of this being a ghost or simply some intense electromagnetic activity or infrasound, he brings in professor of parapsychology Caroline Watt and ordained reverend and writer on the paranormal Peter Laws. Watt’s job is to be Team Skeptic, and she tells us about the possibility of these figures being hypnagogic hallucinations – hallucinations that occur when we are on the precipice of sleep. She says that humans are particularly good at seeing faces and figures during this part of our day, potentially for evolutionary reasons to more easily spot potential predators or mates. Watt also talks about how the stress of starting university and being around entirely new people can contribute to this, or even low frequencies, perhaps from the lift right next to room 611, could be emitting a low frequency that’s known to cause feelings of dread in people.
Reverend Peter, on the other hand, leans more Team Believer. He finds that Ken’s description of these instances and the overwhelming sense of fear and dread is how many religious figures describe Hell. He thinks it’s interesting that it seems to just be this room, as if something sinister happened in it before. And Peter is certainly right about that, as Danny continues to find out more about the history of Room 611, he finds that there have been multiple disturbing deaths to occur in it.
So, is it perhaps the lift right next to the room causing all of the boys who lived in this room to see and hear things? Or is this room haunted by boys whose souls have never left it? Danny asked listeners to submit similar stories or to share stories from the same Room 611 if there’s anyone out there, along with theories about what could have happened, all of which can be heard in the fifth episodes of “Uncanny.”
“Uncanny” is one of the scariest paranormal podcasts we have ever heard. The testimonies of the subjects and the theories of the analysts truly make this podcast something entirely unique. The sound design completely immerses us in this story, maybe even too much. Danny offers both sides a chance to explain what happened and leaves it up to the listeners to decide whether or not this story is truly paranormal. While you dive into “Uncanny,” we’ll be off buying ourselves a nightlight or seven.