After ten episodes in which comedians Barry Dodds and Ian Boldsworth debate the existence of the paranormal — each one centering around Barry's "haunting of the week" (or "Barry's fairytale" as Ian is want to call it) — the Parapod Christmas special shifted gears by taking the duo out of the studio and into one the UK's most haunted locations. Barry, the self-confessed believer, feels he's on home turf as he exposes unwavering skeptic Ian to the horrors of 30 East Drive, a miserable, supposedly poltergeist infested, terraced house.
What follows is a wonderful blend of the previous Parapod formula and a sort of improvised theatre that becomes a brilliantly low-key, audio version of "Ghostwatch", the classic BBC drama. The skeptic finds himself out of explanations, while the believer spirals earnestly toward terror as small event after small event slowly deepen his fear. It's woven with an impromptu interview with Carol, psychic, and caretaker of the building, that adds weight to the proceedings as she sketches the house's mythology for the pair, and fills them in on its non-alive inhabitants.
It's also a two-parter, split in the middle on a great cliffhanger that captures a moment that could easily fit into a horror movie. It's a deft piece of editing, that manages to keep things funny while ratcheting up the tension, and finding timely and comedic ways to let that tension out again.
The Parapod is always an enjoyable listen, but this Christmas special distinguishes itself as one of the best podcasts I've heard.