Fear in your ear: the unstoppable rise of the horror podcastMarch 29, 2021
The Battersea Poltergeist is just one of many surging up the charts. Its creator, and others, explain why the pandemic has led people to seek out scary stories
By his own admission, Danny Robins has always been “obsessed with ghosts”. “I think it might have been growing up with atheist parents,” says the writer and broadcaster, who co-created Radio 4’s lauded Sir Lenny Henry vehicle Rudy’s Rare Records, among many other works. Among them is the 2017 investigative podcast about the paranormal, Haunted. “As a kid, I was very aware of the absence of belief,” he continues. “I think I might have just wanted to be part of a club. To be part of a club of believers.”
Now in his early 40s, Robins is trying to recruit as many believers as possible to the club via his new docudrama podcast, The Battersea Poltergeist. Available on BBC Sounds, it tells the story, beginning in 1956, of a bizarre 12-year-long haunting that resulted in Shirley Hitchings (just 15 at the start of it all) and the victim of the titular spook, fleeing to Bognor Regis. A poltergeist in Enfield in 1977 may have inspired Hollywood, but it’s south-west London’s one that put in the longest shift.