On 9 May we received one of the most curious press releases ever to hit the Official London Theatre inbox. Ghost Stories, the hit West End show that has people jumping out of their seats in fright, had fallen victim to a case of life imitating art.
At 03:45 on 27 April, the production’s scream cam – installed to catch audience members’ shrieks during the show – switched itself on and took a series of mysterious photos seemingly catching a grey figure making itself at home in the stalls (pictures above).
The show’s creators Andy Nyman and Jeremy Dyson wanted to find out more, but none of the theatre’s staff were brave enough to volunteer to sleepover. And so the strangest – and scariest – job in London theatre was created: the night watchman.
Seeking someone brave and handy with a torch, the pair went about recruiting an individual to sleep over on Friday 13 June from 20:00 to 04:00 who was courageous enough to face the dark and see if any unusual happenings would occur.
Following more than 500 applications, corporate lawyer Holly Boyd was declared the woman for the job for her combination of bravery and wit. Armed with just a notebook and a sleeping bag, Boyd took up her role last Friday. To discover whether or not the grey man did in fact make an appearance, turn out all the lights, pull your duvet over your head for protection and watch her video blog above if you dare…
Did you apply for the job of night watchman? Find out why Boyd triumphed over the competition with these extracts from her application form:
Why are you applying for this position?
I saw the headline London’s Scariest Job, and knew immediately it was mine. Let’s just call this FACT! F – Flexible – A ghost problem you say? I am the Ghost Whisperer. I am the Exorcist. I am everything in-between. I can invite Casper to tea or send the Man in Grey back to the Theatre Royal! I will do anything that needs to be done. A – Available – I’ve already cancelled my plans for that weekend in hopeful anticipation. C – Commitment – Awake all night? No problem! My best work is done in the wee hours of the morn. T – Toughness – I’m not scared, I’m excited! I promise, in these circumstances at least, that I’m not a screamer. Scary movies don’t make me jump. But if I do scream like a girl… I’ll admit, I brought it on myself! I have done a lot of awesome things in my time… but this, my very own ‘Fright Night’, would undoubtedly be the best!
Please give an example where you have used a torch effectively?
I was trekking a section of the Bibbulmun track in Western Australia. The last section before the shelter was a 6km stretch of beach. Daylight was fading; the storm clouds were rolling in. Knowing it would be disastrous to remain along the coast, I opted for the longer route in-land. It would offer some protection from the elements should I need to camp out before I reached the shelter. The wind and the rain came. Night fell. I spent the next four hours hiking alone along dunes and brush with nothing but my (ageing) track map and my trusty torch to guide me. The final hurdle was a waist-deep wade through freezing cold water holding my 17kg kit bag and shoes on my head and torch in my mouth. I reached the shelter, rolled out my sleeping bag and passed out asleep. Best day!
Do you believe in ghosts? If so, have you had any experiences of paranormal activity?
I think the world would be a much more interesting place if the paranormal were indeed true. I’ve had a fascination for the supernatural for as long as I can remember. Sadly, I am yet to see, hear or feel anything like it. As a 10-year old I gleefully said “The Candyman” five times in front of the mirror – and nothing. So I don’t believe in ghosts… but I definitely, definitely want to!