Five Most Controversial TV Specials


Television specials are often informative, but sometimes they just make people mad and feed viewers a lot of crap. Here are the five most controversial TV specials of all time.

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Ghostwatch (aired: BBC, 1992): As basic cable today will prove there is a strong market for paranormal programming, but in 1992 the BBC tried their hand at this to disastrous results. Filmed in a documentary style, a group of investigators were sent to a home in London, said to be haunted by a poltergeist dubbed Pipes, because children would hear his eerie voice through the pipes. Back at the BBC studio, well-known TV personalities; Sarah Greene and Craig Charles monitored what was happening and took on-air calls from viewers with their own paranormal experiences. As the special unfolded unexplained events began to increase until “Pipes” took control of the show altogether.  The malevolent spirit invaded the studio and from there used his supernatural abilities to awaken ghosts all over the UK to terrorize the humans. You may be wondering why you never heard of the great spiritual war which happened in England in the 90’s that is because Ghostwatch was actually completely fake. The special was produced by the dramatic wing of the BBC but it’s documentary style and use of known TV presenters convinced many at home that it was real and caused traumatic experiences, especially among younger viewers. Tragically a young man named, Mark Denham was so convinced of the program’s reality he committed suicide. For over a decade following the original airing the BBC kept Ghostwatch locked away from public viewing.

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Did We Land on the Moon (aired: Fox, 2001): There used to be a time when believing the moon landing was staged was a fringe conspiracy theory believed by kooks (just like believing in Flat Earth used to be). But in 2001, Fox gave these loons a platform to spout off their nonsense to a national audience. Screentime was given to noted conspiracy theorists who were paraded as “experts” like Bill Kaysing, Ralph Rene, and David Percy, none of whom have any real background in science or engineering. But the damage was done and Did We Land on the Moon was watched by around fifteen million people who got a steady stream of easily disproval evidence to say we never ventured to the lunar surface. Almost in direct correlation to the airing of this special the percentage of Americans who believe Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins never truly made their historic journey jumped from 6% of the population to 20%.

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Australia’s Naughtiest Home Videos (aired: Nine Network, 1992): As you can probably tell from the title, this was to be a show which followed the format of America’s Funniest Home Videos, except Australian and naughtier. Hosted by Doug Mulray, Australia’s Naughtiest Home Videos gave the good viewers of Australia footage of; kangaroos having sexual relations, elderly people interacting with strippers and various other crude and tasteless home videos. While this was running across the airwaves, Kerry Packer, the owner of Nine Network was sitting down to dinner when friends began to call him to inform the man what his network was airing. Packer immediately called the studio and gave the now famous command, “Get that shit off the air!”. Minutes later the show came to an abrupt end as a rerun of Cheers began airing. Strangely enough despite the fervent disproval from the channel’s head honcho, Australia’s Naughtiest Home Videos proved to be popular among viewers during its brief run, as Nine Network received multiple phone calls in favor of the show.

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Megalodon: The Monster Shark Lives (aired: Discovery Channel, 2013): With all the brain-dead content television throws our way, the Discovery Channel has been a constant providing well-produced, quality, educational programming…..except when they show a fake documentary. During the run of their fan-favorite annual event Shark Week, the Discovery Channel wanted to produce a special about the most fearsome shark to ever swim our seas, the Megalodon. Granted this species has been extinct for a few million years, but they were not going to let that stop them. Interspersed with real talk about the monster shark who once ruled the seas were fake photographs and videos which reportedly show the Megalodon still alive and hungry. They even showed actors portraying scientists searching for the shark in what were pretty much sketches. Granted the network provided a disclaimer previous to the airing of Megalodon: The Monster Shark Lives, but if you came in during the middle of the program as people often do you never saw this, nor did they promote this as a mockumentary during the advertising campaign. Again considering this came from a network renowned for providing intelligent well researched programming this was a huge blow to the credibility of the Discovery Channel.

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The Great Global Warming Swindle (aired: Channel 4, 2007): One of the greatest threats our planet faces right now is climate change. This struggle has been made more difficult that it needs to be by politicians who are bought and paid for as well as this British TV special. Produced by Martin Durkin, the Great Global Warming Swindle presented a (hilariously) false case that CO2 levels have been following a steady trend since the 1940’s and that global warming was a hoax created by scientists to get research funding and by “evil” solar panel merchants trying to peddle their goods. According to special, water particles being hit by the sun is the cause of our planet warming and not carbon dioxide. Revered scientists like Sir David King were interviewed for this special and their words taken out of context and interviews edited to perpetuate the argument of the series. Numerous complaints were registered against the Great Global Warming Swindle and a group of scientists from around the world comprised a 176 page report which refuted the claims it made. The following year the Office of Communication found that the special had breached the code of impartiality in its presentation.

 

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