I did an interview with Ben Emlyn-Jones for his “Hpanwo Radio” last night (Thursday) which is now in the archives, and Ben has kindly posted the link on here (its beside the pic. of myself standing outside the top gate of Highgate Cemetery with the ‘warning sign’ in the background). It was quite an informal interview (I prefer those) but Ben did raise some interesting points about the ‘vampire’ said to haunt Highgate cemetery. I hope I clarified that the ghostly figure seen in Highgate Cemetery, which has been reported by many local people over the years, is NOT – nor ever has been – a ‘vampire’. This tag only came about courtesy of Hammer Horror films who used HC as a location in the late 1960s and early 1970’s to make several of their popular vampire films; Taste the Blood of Dracula and Dracula AD 1972, being among them. It is a fact Hammer films firmly established a direct link between Highgate Cemetery and a ‘vampire’ (and it was not only Hammer, there were other film companies and film titles as well such as Tales from the Crypt and The Body Beneath), but they also succeeded in ‘changing’ the cemetery’s long established ghost or spectre (which had been reported for decades before film companies like Hammer came on the scene) into some ‘blood-sucking vampire’. Of course, such an assumption was not given serious credence by serious psychic investigators, but it did serve to confuse the gullible and unwary (the type who believed Alice in Wonderland may have existed just because a best-selling book featured this character) and attract to the cemetery a more serious element of people who entered the cemetery at night, and who were opening coffins and driving wooden stakes through the interred corpses.
And as well as these people, of course, there were also the usual group of individuals anxious to ‘cash in’ on the sensational ‘vampire tag’ originally instigated by Hammer, and take full advantage of any opportunity of personal publicity that the case had to offer.
One thing Ben did ask me to clarify on the show was the infamous mass ‘vampire hunt’ that took place on the night of Friday 13th of March in 1970. This occurred after I had appeared on the “Today” programme hosted by the late Eamon Andrews at 6 o’clock that same evening. I had been invited on to discuss the appearances of the ghost that had been witnessed frequently in or near the cemetery. Anxious to avoid attracting any sensationalism about vampires, I carefully avoided using the word ‘vampire’. Another invidual being interviewed, however, insisted that this unexplained phenomenon or ‘ghost’ that I had described, was in reality a ‘real life’ vampire and proceeded to demonstrate for the cameras how one must destroy a vampire. Producing a large silver-plated crucifix and pulling a sharpened wooden stake stuck down the back of his trousers, he said that the only sure way to destroy a vampire on must . . . first drive a wooden stake through its heart with one blow; cut off its head with a grave-digger’s shovel and then burn what remains.
Sandra Harris, the presenter, then asked him if he didn’t think that would be illegal today? He agreed, but then proceeded to say that he understood that David Farrant (myself) would be returning to the cemetery later that same evening to do just that!
(He was obviously basing this assumption on a report that appeared in the “Ham and High” newspaper the previous week when I was asked by some over-zealous reporter what I would do if the spectre really turned out to be a real vampire. Humouring him, I replied that should be the case, I would take whatever means necessary so that we could ‘all rest in peace’! But the humour had obviously been lost on this individual you chose to interpret my remark quite literally!)
Now as this individual’s statement had been put over the air, that same night following the television programme, hundreds of people besieged Highgate Cemetery all expecting to witnessed a non-existent ‘vampire hunt’!
All police leave in the area was cancelled and police cars surrounded all the entrance points of the cemetery, and just to ‘seal off’ the police operation, police with guard dogs and search lights patrolled the cemetery evicting a few people who had managed to scale the walls.
Asked by Ben about the outcome of the ‘vampire hunt’, I told him that this had been prevented by the police and so had never taken place.
All the same the press loved the event, despite its anti-climax, and more stories about a vampire roaming Highgate Cemetery were splashed across some headlines . . .
This is really just a brief synopsis of my interview with Ben about the Highgate vampire for Hpanwo Radio. There was a lot more. Anybody wishing to hear the complete interview, please just follow the link below.
Have fun everyone!