Fortean TV – The Complete Series
One of the most popular and most influential paranormal TV-series, FORTEAN TV originally aired from 1997 to 1998 and was presented by Reverend Lionel Fanthorpe, introducing viewers to the weird, the inexplicable and the downright bizarre! Produced by Rapido TV (the same production company that unleashed the highly entertaining Eurotrash series, FORTEAN TV (based upon the Fortean Times magazine) ran for three series each comprised 30-min episodes. Now, the complete series (that’s 18 episodes, plus the more hardcore Uncut spin-off and the memorable Christmas special) is available as a 3-Disc DVD set. So, if you always wanted to know about the Swedish lake monster or Britain’s answer to Dr. Dolittle, here is your chance!
Chosen by this reviewer in no particular order, some of the series’ featured phenomena don’t just include the usual suspects such as ghost sightings, alien encounters, tales of the Fiji Mermaid or the Puerto Rican ‘Chupacabra’ – a vampiric goatsucker but also lesser known tales such as that of the Swedish lake monster of Östersund – a snake-like water creature up to twenty metres long that is said to live in the Storsjön lake and – you guessed it – has been sighted over time by various locals. Equally bizarre are stories of religious faces or even names spotted in or on food products, like the Muslim woman who discovered the name of Allah (written in native language) when she cut a humble aubergine in half or the pastry baker who was certain he recognised the face of Mother Teresa on one half of a cinnamon bun and displayed it in a glass cage instead of selling it to a hungry customer!
Less appetising than aubergines and cinnamon buns are the so-called Garra Rufa fish which are to be found in Kangal, Turkey, where these tiny black fish are praised by people suffering from all sorts of ailments, in particular rheumatism and skin disorders such as eczema and psoriasis. Sufferers bravely dip into pools in local spas in order to treat themselves to a ‘Garra Ruffa massage’ and claim that the fish have succeeded where doctors and dermatologists have failed. How does it work? The fish nibble the scales on the inflamed skin away before a ‘polishing’ treatment follows. Some patients even allow the fish to enter their mouth as the Garra Ruffa are able to remove… plaque! Perhaps don’t watch this one while having your dinner.
Then there’s South Londoner Anne Wilson, nicknamed the British answer to Dr. Dolittle due to her ability to communicate with all sort of animals via a pendulum – but even if the animals and their owners aren’t able to visit Anne in her house (remember, we’re talking twenty years ago) she is able to communicate with the animal world as long as the owner brings some pet hairs or similar things along. On a par (though no doubt considerably weirder) is Linguist Alexandra Sellers who claims to have unlocked the ancient language of cats! Not only can she speak this peculiar language (to our ears it sounds like gobbledygook) but she has published her findings in her book ‘Spoken Cat and Relevant Factors in Worldview’. We see Alexandra in action during a show at the Siamese Cat Club in Bracknell, Berkshire, where she gives proud owners all sorts of tips as to how best to communicate with their feline companions. Prepare to be astonished, meow!
Other truly weird stories include a New York exhibition with paintings from all those who claim to have had alien encounters. One gentleman even claims that aliens asked him to impregnate some of their women. Well, the truth is out there I guess…
Undoubtedly, one of the series’ highlights happens to be the Reverend Fanthorpe’s ditties which he usually performs with a friend while stomping through various landscapes – sometimes even in costume. That said, the songs aren’t his own compositions but usually re-worked folk or country & western songs (‘Molly Malone’ / ‘My Darling Clementine’ etc.) which he performs in his own imitable way and always with hilarious lyrics – all in relation to various paranormal occurrences featured throughout each program. Why can’t all reverends be this much fun?
The DVD-set can be ordered directly from: https://new.networkonair.com/fortean-tv/