HALLOWEEN – October 2016

Some 2,000-plus years ago, the holiday today known as Halloween originated as a New Year’s Eve celebration among the Celtic peoples of Europe.

The Halloween we celebrate today is a mix of ancient Celtic traditions, Catholic and Roman rituals, and European folk practices blended over time. It began with the ancient Celts who considered 1 November to be New Year’s Day, which they called Samhain. The Celts believed that the night before Samhain, or 31 October, spirits, fairies, and demons trod the earth.

This October HISTORY is celebrating Halloween with the following programming:

Witches: A Century of Murder

In this two part documentary-drama series, Dr Suzannah Lipscomb goes in search of the origins of the deadly craze of mass witch hunts and trials that infected the British Isles 400 years ago. Hundreds of innocent people were persecuted, tortured and put to death in a hysterical effort to stamp out the scourge of witchcraft. Through original documents and powerful drama, Suzannah uncovers the fear of Satan that drove the persecutors to such awful lengths and what it was like for the innocent victims tortured and executed for crimes they couldn’t possibly have committed.


Forbidden History – Series 3 – Episode 4 – Bloodlust: Real Vampires

How much of the vampire legend is based in reality? Jamie Theakston travels across Europe to see if there is a link between the legendary bloodsuckers and historical figures Elizabeth Bathory and Vlad the Impaler.


Vampire Legend

Bram Stoker penned his gothic horror Dracula in 1887 and popularized the modern vampire myth—but Vampire Legend uncovers evidence that now points to those myths originating in England, not Eastern Europe as many believe. Unexplained burials, identified as ‘deviant’ and ‘cursed’ by their contemporaries, were detailed in Stoker’s original research notes and drafts, discovered by his great-grandson in the family archive. Oxford professor John Blair follows clues in medieval burials in England that may offer insight into physiological reasons for the formation of the myths. The cases hint at a deeply-held belief that the dead could rise and bring fear to the living… a belief that predates the Eastern European lore and is forcing a re-examination of the modern vampire legend.


How The Devil Got His Horns

Art historian and critic Alastair Sooke reveals how the Devil’s image was created by artists of the Middle Ages. He explores how, in the centuries between the birth of Christ and the Renaissance, visual interpretations of the Devil evolved, with the embodiment of evil appearing in different guises: tempter, tyrant, and rebellious angel. Alastair shows how artists used their imaginations to give form to Satan – whose description is absent from the Bible.


Jack The Ripper: The Definitive Story

Jack the Ripper: a real person or a fictitious phantom? This two part documentary sets out the FACTS. Taking you back to 1888, the original buildings, the original lighting, reconstructions of the witness statements, and follows in the footsteps of Jack the Ripper. Mixing 3D virtual environments with real actors, it takes a closer look at the original police investigation and coroner’s reports, showing you what really happened.


Halloween: Feast of the Dying Sun

A daring special which delves into the ancient Celtic origins of Halloween – the darkest night of the year.

Millennia have passed since the Druids first celebrated Samhain, the Feast of the Dying Sun; almost a thousand years have elapsed since the Christian Church renamed the feast as Halloween; centuries have gone by since Halloween first left the shores of the Celtic lands in which it originated.  The Feast of the Dying Sun will journey back and forth between contemporary celebrations and historic origins until the past finally meets the present.

This documentary enriches the dark fun of Halloween with an eerie journey back in time to experience the ancient beliefs and practices from which it originally emerged.


 The Missing Evidence: Jack The Ripper



Lizzie Borden Had an Axe

A team of investigators will apply modern day forensics to this century – old murder. A case far more complex…

“Lizzie Borden took an axe, 
She gave her mother forty whacks..
When she saw what she had done,
She gave her father forty- one.”


Vampires in Venice



Blackbeard: The Real Pirate of the Caribbean

This is the true story of Edward Teach, who went on to become the most notorious pirate the world has ever known. Loved by some, hated by many, feared by all, his reign of terror along the east coast of America and rash decision to strike at the heart of the government drove the authorities to put an end to piracy once and for all…

DID YOU KNOW? Blackbeard worked hard at establishing his devilish image, but there is no archival evidence to indicate that he ever killed anyone who was not trying to kill him.

During combat, the infamous pirate’s beard was braided with ribbons and he wore lit cannon fuses in his hair.


The Mystery of The Mary Celeste

 This investigative documentary sets out to solve the world’s greatest sea mystery.

On November 5th 1872, the merchant ship “The Mary Celeste” sailed out of New York Harbour bound for Genoa, Italy, carrying a cargo of 1,709 barrels pure alcohol. One month later, “The Mary Celeste” was a ghost ship: deserted yet still sailing erratically towards Portugal.

For 135 years people have sought to explain the mystery with solutions ranging from alien abduction, voodoo curses and phantom islands to attacks by giant sea monsters.  The story has captured the public’s imagination and baffled historians, scientists and mariners.

Now Celeste Fowles, a descendant of the Mary Celeste’s captain, Benjamin Briggs, considers new evidence which throws fascinating fresh light on what really happened.


Mysteries at the Museum: Halloween Special



Great British Ghosts: Halloween Special

In this Great British Ghosts Halloween special Michaela Strachan visits one of the most haunted locations in the whole country, Carnfield Hall near Alfreton in Derbyshire.

It dates back to the 15th Century and has a long and rich history from Mary Queen of Scots, through the English Civil War, into Georgian and Victorian times, right up to the Second World War.

All manner of unexplained noises, thumps and bumps have been heard throughout the main house, including harpsichord music being played in the upstairs parlour, where there had been a music room in the 1700’s.


Dracula by Vlad

Of Dracula, history only remembers the fiction character created by Bram Stoker. The myth adapted on screen several times took over the amazing life of the man who inspired it: the Prince of Wallachia, Vlad III the Impaler.

Back to the origins of the legend. Built on renown historians interviews and reenactment scenes of Vlad the Impaler discover the violent life of this blood prince who was well-known in the Christian Occident and the Muslim world.