He is the UK’s purveyor of all things spooky! Danny Robins joins us to talk about ghost stories, hauntings and his multiple successful podcasts.
Danny is a great guy and has a real passion for the stories of real people. I had a great time chatting with him about the paranormal and I’m sure you’ll enjoy it too.
You can find his popular podcast Uncanny on all the podcast apps.
You can find his book Into The Uncanny at Amazon: https://amzn.to/479cz20
You can find Danny’s website at https://www.dannyrobins.com/
Thanks Danny & Happy Halloween to all!
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This is the Paranormal Podcast with Jim Harold.
Welcome to the Paranormal Podcast. I am Jim Harold. Happy Halloween to you and boy do we have a red letter date today because our guest is Danny Robins. He has hit the internet by storm with his podcasts and programs. He’s an award-winning British writer, television broadcaster and journalist. He created a smash hit series, the Battersea Poltergeist, that became the number one drama podcast across the entire globe. Now he has a new BBC podcast series just as popular. It’s called Uncanny. On it he shares individual stories of paranormal encounters from ghosts to UFOs, and I love that big tent approach. We are in a mind meld there, and we’ll talk to him about it. The Sunday Times called him a contemporary Van Helsing, A paranormal polymath. We’re so glad to have him with us today. Danny Robins, welcome to the show.
Hello, Jim. Thank you for having me.
So I have to ask you if I understand correctly, and correct me if I’m wrong, you kind of started out as a comedy writer and in comedy. Take us a little bit through the journey to the paranormal. Is it something you’ve been fascinated by when you were a kid? I mean, how did you get into this weird world? And I mean that in only the best way, the weird world of the paranormal?
No. Well, yes. I’ve been obsessed by ghosts since I was a kid. I was that kid who sat in the school library pouring over ghost books and look at all those old photographs of phantom monks in old churches and all those kind of things that kind of grabbed us. And I think we feel a real nostalgia for actually, I think a lot of people looking back missed that time of that kind of deep reflective search for mysteries of ghosts and UFOs, I think was very present in the seventies and eighties. Yeah, I mean, it’s something that I’ve been fascinated by my whole life. And as you said, I went into comedy and I think there’s definitely some sort of correlation between comedy and horror. There’s a lot of great people who’ve gone into making horror like Jordan Peele, obviously, who had a great comedy background.
William Peter Blatty wrote The Exorcist wa the comedy writer, wasn’t he? And I think there’s some sort of thing going on there. I think I definitely remember the technical art form of looking for laughs, mirroring the technical art form of looking for scares. Now that I write horror, I feel it appeals to the same kind of mind. But yeah, I spent years writing comedy and I think I just felt increasingly less fulfilled by it and increasingly more desperate to tap into what I’d always been fascinated by, the mysteries of the unknown. And it really, my kind of Road to Damascus moment was a friend of mine sitting in my house and telling me that she’d seen a ghost. And it was the first time that somebody really close to me had told me a story that kind of went beyond the casual. It was deeply compelling, deeply real.
And it made me think about how our friendship group would react to her and the fact that some people would believe her, but many people would mock her or be irritated by her or question her sanity, I guess. And I thought about the impact these stories have and the fact that saying I’ve seen a ghost is a very big deal, I think really in this day and age. And it gave me the idea for a play 2:22, a ghost story that I wrote that’s been on here in the West End, and it made it across to Los Angeles last autumn, coming to Broadway next year, hopefully. And the play, basically as part of the writing for it, I researched, I went out there on social media and said to people, I know have you had an experience? And I got things back from friends and then from friends of friends and then strangers, and it went viral.
And I just found these stories intriguing that each one was from an ordinary person who’d experienced the extraordinary and often from people who’d not really told anybody else about it before they’d kept it to themselves because they didn’t know how or where to talk about it. And I just felt I couldn’t keep these stories to myself. I asked these people if they would record with me, and I made my first podcast haunted as a result of that. So it all kind of snowballed from there. And now I’ve made several series: Battersea Poltergeist, Uncanny, The Witch Farm, all for the BBC. We’ve just made a TV series of uncanny, which is on BBC TV right now actually as we speak. And yeah, I mean for me, I mean it’s tapping into something I’ve cared deeply about ever since I was a kid. And I’m loving this journey of exploration that I’m going on
Now. You talked about the word journey and you know, like you , I’ve been interested since I was a kid, and as I get along in life, I’m kind of like, I’m not sure I’m going to ever get the answers because when I first started podcasting, like I’ll do this six months, I’ll have all the answers, and I’m convinced now even if I’m around another 40, 50 years, it’d be great. I don’t know if that’s going to happen. But the point is, I don’t think I’m ever going to get the final answer. Maybe at the very end there, that end piece, when we shuffle off this mortal coil. For you, is it about getting the answers or is it about more about the journey?
I think it’s about the journey. And I sometimes say that ghost stories or I mean any of these stories of strange paranormal activity, UFOs as well, are detective stories. And if you are a skeptic, it’s a how done it, is it environmental? Is it psychological? And if you’re a believer, it’s a who done it, who was the ghost? What is going on? And I think I’m a voracious reader of detective stories. And the moment you stop enjoying a detective story is when you know who done it, when you know the murderer. So I think these are open-ended detective stories, and I think that’s why it appeals to us as human beings. I think we love mysteries, and this is the biggest mystery of all. It’s the mystery that every religion ever founded has attempted to answer. What happens to us when we die? That idea of are we alone in this universe?
So I think for me it’s the journey, and this might sound silly, but I love the idea of being a paranormal Indiana Jones, of being in search of that holy grail trying to find answers on this. And I love the fact that I’m going on this journey with other people, that the community that’s built up around my podcast is a group of like-minded people who are intrigued by these mysteries, but come from really divided separate backgrounds, some complete skeptics, some believers, some in the middle. And somehow we’ve found this way to agree to disagree and to interrogate these mysteries in our own way. And so I think that the paranormal, I know sometimes people talk about it being a bit cliquey and that there’s sometimes different groups and different factions within it. I found it can be something really inclusive. It’s something that’s brought people together. And I think that question of do ghosts exist or do you believe in ghosts is a question you could start a conversation with anywhere in the world and provoke a conversation.
And the thing is, I agree. I find that even most skeptics say, I don’t believe in any of this stuff now. Now there was this one time. and then they’ll proceed to tell their story. You find much the same thing.
Oh yeah, totally. Totally. And I also think that even if you resolutely don’t believe ghosts exist, you secretly wish that they did. I think all of us have this thing within us that, we fear death basically. I think that’s a massive motivator for all of us. That idea that death is this horrible, finite, full stop on all of the brilliant, beautiful business of being a human being. And if there’s something that undermines or unpicks death, if there is essentially an antidote to death, which is what ghosts are, let’s face it then that’s an amazing idea and it’s deeply seductive, I think. So I sort of feel there’s a reason why we still are interested in ghosts after thousands of years. We haven’t consigned them to that scrap of redundant superstition like unicorns or elves or many other things. We still as a community, even if you personally don’t believe in ghosts, you absolutely entertain the idea that it’s worth having a discourse about them. I think we as humans need ghosts. That’s clearly they perform a function in our lives whether they are real or imagined, we as a society need them.
Now, one thing I really enjoyed when I saw it, when I was looking at the description of Uncanny, you said everything from ghosts to UFOs. Now see, I grew up watching In Search Of with Leonard Nimoy and Unsolved Mysteries, those shows here in the States, and obviously they’d been syndicated worldwide, but they had a wide range of different topics. Everything from ghosts to strange cryptid creatures, UFOs, you name it. And when I started, I called my first show the Paranormal Podcast. But to me, the paranormal wasn’t just ghosts, it was much wider. It wasn’t just ghosts. Now it seems like it’s become shorthand for a ghost show, and certainly I think that there is a nexus there and maybe the plurality of stories, the plurality of discussion is around ghosts. But I like that big tent philosophy. It seems like you probably take the same kind of tack. Can you talk about for you, what does the paranormal mean and what does encapsulate?
Absolutely. Well, I mean, I think it’s sometimes good just to boil the paranormal down to its literal meaning of things that are not normal. And I’ve definitely investigated on my show UFOs and things like premonitions, and we haven’t done a cryptid story yet, but we’re constantly on the hunt for the right one for us. I mean, all of our stories come from a first person witness. We generally don’t go near stories that are already in the public domain. They’re stories that come to us for the first time. But yeah, I think there’s a real hunger for knowledge about this at the moment. And I think that this situation with UFOs in the States and the reigniting of interest in that is really interesting. I’ve generally been a ghost guy over the years. I’ve generally found my main point of interest is ghosts. But then I started getting more and more emails from people who’d had UFO experiences, and I realized if I was going to take the ghost experiences seriously, I couldn’t then ignore the UFO ones.
And it felt like they had many crossover points, many similarities in terms of the impact that these stories had on people that I would refer to the UFO cases as UFO hauntings in a way, because they left people feeling haunted. They left people with the same set of questions and uncertainties about what they’d witnessed. So yeah, so we do definitely take that kind of broad church appeal. And we’ve explored some, well-known cases. We did the Rendlesham case, which people are probably familiar with the American service people stationed in England who had an experience in 1980 and a case here called the Todmorden UFO case, which involved a policeman seeing what I believe was a UFO again, that same year actually in 1980. And really interesting cases that provoked huge debate in our audience and brought loads of sightings to me as well. I’ve had so many sightings, and particularly that Todmorden area of Yorkshire, just so many sightings in that one area.
And again, you feel like there is something here, there’s something that’s worthy of investigation. But yeah, I think I mentioned that idea of nostalgia before, the nostalgia for the books and the TV series of our childhood that you mentioned some of there. And I think it’s just we’ve lived in an era for a long time where our imaginations have been very prescribed for us. We’ve had Star Wars and Harry Potter and Marvel and all these things that dictate the parameters of your universe. And then now we’re enjoying diving back into these deep, deep, deep mysteries that we’ve been discussing as humans for thousands of years, these uncertainties. And I love that. I love that fact, that we’re back to discussing those kinds of mysteries.
I would agree. I think that authentic experiences are many times the most thrilling. I mean you’ve heard a lot of stories. Tell us one of your favorites.
Yeah, I’ve been told some amazing stories recently. And the lovely thing about the stories that I’m sent is that they often totally kind of fresh, they haven’t discussed them before, sometimes people haven’t even told their partner about it. So I’m the first person receiving it, and that makes you feel exciting. It sends a shiver down your spine. The very first story we told on Uncanny has been one of our biggest stories in terms of the audience reaction to it. And it’s the case of Room 611. It’s a room of a student hall of residence where the students live on the university campus in Belfast, in Northern Ireland. It takes place in the very early eighties. And it was this guy called Ken, and he’s an eminent geneticist. He’s a scientist, highly respected in his work, in his world, in his career. And he had an experience that he just couldn’t explain.
And it involved a night in his bedroom where he saw this dark shadowy figure appear to him. And the next night he heard this thunderous banging on his door. The door was as if it’s been caved off its hinges. He had poltergeist activity seemingly, with objects moving in the room. And the strange thing was that he and his flatmate were witnessing identical things. And then they discovered that the people in the room the year before and the year after had experienced identical phenomena and books flying across rooms in front of them. Just so many strange and unsettling things. And so we told this story and it was intriguing because you had a man in Ken who did not believe in ghosts and yet felt he’d seen one. And he was wrestling with himself as he told his story, trying to make sense of this thing.
And being a scientist, he wanted to have an answer, he wanted to interrogate it. And then as we let this loose and put it out into the world, suddenly we started getting more and more emails from people who would say, I stayed in room 611. I experienced stuff and then other people actually in that hall of residence as well. So it wasn’t just that room, but it was the entire hall of residence. And we’ve made several programs about this. Now we keep going back to it and it’s just amazing people across decades having experiences connected to this place. And it’s the story that’s pushed me to the absolute limits. I would consider myself a skeptic who wants to believe,
And this pushes me to my very, very limits. And in Britain we talk a lot about the Enfield Poltergeist case, of course, which people may well be familiar with. The Conjuring 2 was based on it. And it’s that case that keeps getting recycled as this is the most convincing British ghost case. And I feel Room 611 absolutely kind of sees Enfield and knocks it out the water, blows it out the water. And I think there’s a load of cases I’ve been told that I just… these rich deep cases with incredible phenomenon. There’s another one in a cottage in the wilds of Scotland, in the middle of nowhere, the place where the Glencoe massacre had taken place and witch trials and all sorts of amazing history to it. But these two hikers found their way to this cottage and again, experienced lots of strange poltergeist activity there. The cottage was called Luibeilt, and then subsequently discovered that many other people at other times had also experienced stuff. They went back on a subsequent trip and found graffiti there saying, do not sleep in this house. It is haunted. So for me, the stories that snowball out like that, where you suddenly get multiple witnesses coming forward, just really, really exciting and feel like they take us from being just looking at localized mysteries to something much, much, much bigger, that makes us question our entire concept of reality.
We’ll be back with Danny Robins in just a minute, but first I want to tell you a little bit about Grammarly because the Paranormal Podcast today is sponsored by Grammarly. And when it comes to writing, Grammarly is there to support you from start to finish. For over 10 years, Grammarly has been powered by AI technology you can trust to help you across all the places where you write the most. And now Grammarly helps you do even more because with one click you can easily brainstorm, easily rewrite and easily reply with suggestions based on your context and goals so you can improve productivity for you and your teams. I got to tell you, I’ve been using Grammarly for years, literally years, way before they ever sponsored this show. And there’s so much that Grammarly can help with. For me, I used it extensively on my weekly newsletter that I send out, and it really helps me clarify my thinking, clarify my writing on my weekly column.
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We’re back on the Paranormal Podcast with Danny Robins. Now here’s a question for you. When it comes to eyewitnesses and people who come forward with these stories, whether your interaction with them are in person or over the internet and whatever, can you talk about the believability of these people? Because for me, when I talk to experiencers, that’s something that really strikes me. The vast majority of people I talk to who share their true stories with me, they seem to be sincere most of the time. They seem to be very grounded, sometimes skeptics like you mentioned. So can you talk about witnesses and their credibility and believability in your mind?
Yeah, sure. I mean, it’s such an important and huge aspect of what we do, isn’t it? Making sure that the person is credible. And every time you tell a story, you’re effectively staking your reputation on that person and their story. And so obviously we do a lot of due diligence and cross-reference and check with multiple witnesses and fact check and all that sort of thing to make sure that the story feels credible. But it does ultimately boil down to that human connection, doesn’t it? And most of these stories, it’s a first person thing. Only this person experienced that moment. I mean, ideally you find other witnesses, but often it’s just that person. And it’s all about trust. You kind of look into the whites of their eyes and you see somebody who is visibly genuinely affected. We had an episode of the Uncanny TV series the other day, and the outpouring of responses was just incredible, people feeling that they were watching somebody who was tangibly and visibly emotional and moved by what they were talking about.
And you get a real sense of the power of these experiences, the life changing nature, not just because of the fear, but also because of the implications of it, what it means for your sense of reality. So I’ve always been drawn to the stories where I feel like you kind of viscerally, visibly get that from the person, the Battersea Poltergeist, my first big series I did for the BBC, I went to meet this woman who’d been a teenager when she experienced a phenomena back in the 1950s and was in her eighties now. And the thing that drew me in and made me want to tell the story was a little catch in her voice, a little kind of tremble in the voice that just let me know that she was still frightened by these things 50 or 60 years later. And it’s powerful, I think.
And there’s no 100% guarantee ever that you’re not being hoaxed by some very clever person. But I just feel like spending time with these people, sitting with ’em for hours and days, I’m totally convinced for them. I feel that they are telling their truth and we can debate absolutely what they saw. We do not at any point have to believe it was a ghost. We can believe it was all sorts of different things, from mice to pipes to environmental phenomenon, whatever you like. But for that person, I believe it’s absolutely genuine. And so in light of that, really, it almost doesn’t matter if you explain it skeptically or from a believer standpoint because the impact on that person is the same. It’s profound, it’s life-changing, it’s terrifying. So I think what I’ve tried to create around my shows is a kind of culture of respect really, and of kindness.
And I think for a long time, I dunno if it’s the same in the States, but I think here in Britain we’ve not really known how to talk about these things. We’ve had a problem talking about ghosts, we’ve been a bit embarrassed about it. We’ve made people feel embarrassed if they’ve talked about it. There were a lot of paranormal shows out there that were all about night vision cameras and screaming and mediums channeling spirits. And actually a lot of people didn’t feel comfortable talking about their stuff there. So trying to create a culture where people feel comfortable, a safe space where we listen without judgment, we keep an open mind and they can just say what feels crazy. It’s stuff that makes people feel like they’re going crazy, but if they can say that out loud, have it discussed, have it taken seriously, it’s an amazing thing.
I agree fully, and we try to do the same thing on our Campfire show. I mean, these people are to be respected and treated seriously. And to your point about paranormal TV shows, many of them in the states that are the most popular, it’s typically four or five people in black T-shirts running into places. Oh, I’m scared. What was that? A tripod falls? And it’s like, oh, what was that? And then, oh, it was just a tripod. I mean, I think what you are doing, and hopefully a little bit of what I’m doing on a small scale kind of hearkens back to those things from the seventies and the eighties and even takes it forward in that welcoming kind of sense and not thinking people are crazy and not playing prosecutor, but just respecting them and their experiences.
I think absolutely. I mean your very title, the Campfire titl,e speaks to the need to tell these stories that we’ve been telling these stories to each other for thousands of years. They’ve stayed consistent. People have been talking about these in the same terms. And I think it’s a human need. It’s a human need to interrogate these mysteries together so long may that continue.
I agree. Now let me ask you this because I think, and you kind of spoke to a little bit before, a couple of things: when I grew up, I’ve talked about in search of and said, we’ll explore these mysteries, ghosts, UFOs, strange creatures, mysterious disappearances. And I always looked at all this stuff as very siloed. But over the years as I talked to different researchers, first of all, sometimes the possible explanations are not as easy as necessarily saying, oh, a ghost is a dead person. And even sometimes, and this one really I’m not comfortable with, it bends my mind. But you see places where there are ghost sightings, supernatural activity, and then are UFO sightings or strange cryptids, these things are weirdly sometimes connected. Over this period of time that you’ve been working on the paranormal, do you stick to the simple, simple explanations, ghost or dead people? Or have you kind of broadened your scope on possible explanations and maybe things that we’re not really comfortable with?
No, I mean it’s a really good question and I think we keep an entirely open mind and we’ve explored all sorts of things on the show. I mean, we’ve explored theories like RSPK, recurrent spontaneous psychokinesis, that idea of poltergeist activity being linked to something coming from within the person themselves. I’ve always found myself feeling a little uncomfortable with that theory because I think it can victim-blame, it can take somebody who’s going through something frightening and basically say it’s your fault. I just wrote a book that’s out at the moment called Into the Uncanny, which is a very personal journey for me, and it allows me to get into kind the reasons why I went into the paranormal as well as the actual cases themselves. But as part of that, I went up to that place I was talking about earlier, Todmodon, the place that’s famous for UFO sightings in the UK.
And yes, there’s other paranormal activity connected to there as well, like ghost sightings as well. And I had a fascinating chat with a guy there who, he runs a support group for people who’ve had UFO sightings, it’s called Tod UFO Meet. And every month people get together, they sit in a circle on the upstairs floor of a pub and discuss sightings and try and make sense of why it’s happening in their area. And it took us into these fascinating realms. And he was talking about the idea of a correlation between ghost and UFO sightings and the idea that it was some form of consciousness that we come from and we return to. And he talked about several stories that he’d been told within the group about people where they felt there was some kind of emotional connection between the UFO they were seeing and them, that it was linked to emotion periods of heightened emotion that they felt that they witnessed these things or that they felt they got a response from these lights in the sky when they engage with it.
And I think you’re diving into the deepest and biggest of mysteries there and you’re essentially, you’ll getting to a point where you potentially correlate the idea of God with the paranormal and the attempts to explain our universe, we sort of find different names for these things, but are we talking about some sort of greater consciousness? And I dunno, I mean I think it’s intriguing. I think that there are definite correlations between these things. And if you look at the reports of near death experiences, the interesting similarities between that and alien abduction experiences, UFO experiences, I mean you can look at it skeptically and from a believer point of view, you could imagine that we are indeed dealing with some sort of energy form or some sort of consciousness or you can imagine that we are processing certain natural phenomena with the similar set of the cultural baggage that we bring to things, certain things that we as human beings bring to it. But this is the thing about this subject, isn’t it? There are so many different tangents you can go, so many different roads you can go down and you could talk about it forever.
Yeah, it’s going down the rabbit hole. Well, here’s one for you, because I’ve had multiple stories like this, ones I’ve heard and ones that have been told to me. And I’ll just give you a quick story and listeners to this show and the Campfire will be irritated because I’ve told this about a million times. But it’s just to illustrate the concept. Had a caller who called in who said when he was a young boy, he was at the family home, right? Maybe, I dunno, six, seven years old. And he’s walking past his kitchen and he sees a hooded figure, strange hooded figure, making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich it looks like. And he scurries away and he’s like, oh my gosh, what did I see? He’s a little kid. He’s like, this hooded figure is making a sandwich. And it bothered him for years.
So anyway, let’s fast forward. I dunno, eight, nine years later, he’s a teenager at this point, he’s minding his own business and he said, I think I feel like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. So he has his hoodie on, he’s in his kitchen making his peanut butter and jelly sandwich and something catches out of the corner of eye and what looks like a little boy runs past in the hallway by the kitchen and runs away. So essentially what happened to this caller who called into Campfire, he saw himself in the future and then he saw himself in the past. And we’ve had similar stories. Have you run into considered thought about the idea of at least some ghost sightings, not being a sighting of the dead, but some kind of strange interaction with time?
It’s something I’ve been talking about a lot recently. Actually, the first episode of the Uncanny TV series dealt with this very specific thing, actually the idea of time slips. And we had a moment in that case where the main witness had seen what she felt was the ghost of a man in her house. And she saw him and he seemed to see her, he seemed to react with a gasp and react to the sight of her. And it led us to exploring time slips more, and we found ourselves exploring this one particular street in Liverpool, the famous city where the Beatles came from, snd it’s got this one street called Bold Street, which has so many reports of this phenomenon of timeslips with people feeling that they’re suddenly briefly plunged back into Bold street in the 1950s and seeing old fashioned cars driving around them, people dressed in clothes of that era.
And there’s one really famous story about Bold Street that keeps getting recycled, which is about an off-duty police officer who is crossing over Bold street, suddenly feels it transformed around into the fifties, sees a van with an old livery on it, and is about to go into a bookshop and the bookshop becomes a ladies clothes shop. A ladies outfitters from the 1950s and he’s standing there briefly and he looks across and there’s just one other person there dressed in 1990s clothes. It took place in the nineties. And they both look at each other, they both register this moment, do they say, do you see that? And yeah, I see that. And then suddenly it’s back to normal, back to the nineties. And we’d always presumed that this was an urban myth. We’d never been able to find this off-duty police officer or anybody to do with it.
And we thought maybe it’s like a Liverpool folklore thing that keeps getting told. And then I put a shout out on social media as we were filming and we found the woman, we found the woman, she’s called Julie, the woman who this guy looked at and the respondent, she came back to Bold Street, she told her story and it was so powerful. I mean, I feel like shivers down my spine now just describing it. But she described that fear of what if I get trapped in this moment? And then since the episode aired, we’ve had loads of people come forwards with their own stories about Bold street. So something is happening on this street, the stories are incredibly similar. They’re always about being plunged back into the fifties. So I find that fascinating that that’s linked to that one location. But also then the other night, I’m doing a live tour at the moment of the UK, doing my podcast live in theaters around the UK.
And somebody came up to me after the show, it was a woman in a wheelchair, and she said to me, I’ve got a story for you. And she said, it’s connected to why I’m in this chair. And she said, I’d reached a point in my life a few years ago where I just felt like I was being a burden to people. I felt like I shouldn’t be here. I felt like I’d be better off dead. And then I saw something in my house, I saw a ghost in my house, and that changed the way I felt. And what she described seeing to me was since she turned, she saw a figure standing in her house and that figure was her as an old woman. And the figure spoke to her and told her, we need you here, go on living. And that was just amazing. A thing that had changed her life, turned her life around that idea of seeing herself in the future and that giving her the confidence to hold onto her present.
It’s one of those things where, and that’s a beautiful story, that’s a fantastic story. People will write saying, oh, well my house is haunted, what should I do? Or what do you think the ultimate answer is in those kinds of things. And my stock answer is, I don’t know. I’m just a podcaster. I’m just a guy that sits in a room in front of a mic. But the one thing I say that I think I’ve learned, and I feel pretty comfortable in saying this, is that our existence, the world is far stranger than we give a credit for. And there’s a lot of stuff going on that we don’t understand, that we can’t pick up. I think about DNA. DNA has always been around, but we didn’t know it until relatively recently. So just because we don’t understand something does not mean it exists. Have you had any similar takeaways from your experience in this realm? Anything that you can say, yeah, I’ve come to this epiphany. Anything?
Yeah, well totally. It’s interesting you sort of began that with, what would you say to someone who said the house is haunted and I think how is your house haunted is the question. And I think skepticism is brilliant. If it takes away fear, if somebody’s living in fear in their house and someone can come along and say, actually it’s your boiler or mice or whatever, infrasound, then I think that’s great. But also, I mean these hauntings can often bring comfort. One of the stories that’s left the deepest impression on me is a woman who smelt her husband’s deodorant, this brand called Lynx Africa in her house and felt that he was present there and felt lots of little tiny moments of potential poltergeist activity that were him close to her. And so you absolutely don’t want to explain that away when it brings comfort. But I dunno, I sort of think back a lot to that amazing Victorian era of discovery when people were discovering electricity and new species and cures for diseases and all these kind of things.
And I would like to think that we haven’t discovered everything about our universe yet. And I think there’s a great deal of uncertainty and uncertainty can breed fear, I think. But it’s also exciting. I think it’s what makes all of us crave knowledge on this subject. But so I think for me, a lot of it boils down to this kind of paradox at the heart of it really. That ghosts are simultaneously frightening and comforting. And I think we seek to bring hope and comfort to people who are frightened by experiences and we bring in our experts and try and make sense of it. But at the same time, I’m constantly greeted by people for whom it’s deeply comforting. And for me, I’m terrified of death. I had an experience in my early twenties where I was totally convinced I was dying. I was lying on the bathroom floor in my house having a heart attack.
I was certain I was having a heart attack, I was hallucinating angels. And it turned out it was a panic attack and it was something that lots of your listeners will have experienced and it’s horrible, but not life-threatening. But it gave me this profound fear of death for a year afterwards, totally debilitating fear of death that stopped me from functioning. I couldn’t do anything really. And it’s left me with this lingering persistent fear of death. And I think that that’s really at the heart of this subject. I think it’s probably, if we’re honest, why all of us are fascinated by this subject, because we don’t like the idea of dying. It’s that moment of ceasing to be, it’s such a horrible idea. And so I find myself going back to that all the time. I feel like there’s an optimism to the paranormal. I guess that’s for me, the thing that makes me most intrigued by this subject. I think this hope and optimism of working towards not only answers, but also that idea of something beyond, I think I said earlier, an antidote.
It’s so wild that you say that because I feel exactly the same way. People will say, are you freaked out by all these stories? Are you freaked out by talking about these things? Are you scared? I’m like, no. It makes me believe that we go on in some form. Now what form that is or what happens, I can’t tell you. But I’m more convinced than ever that this is not the whole shooting match. So I really believe that we do go on and largely as a result of getting these stories and hearing these things. And that’s why I say it’s kind of funny. I’ll share a little bit of, and I’m sure you’re familiar with this phenomena, but insider baseball as a creator, I could take exactly the same Campfire episode and let’s say that we have one terrifying story, a woman, a demon visits a woman, and then we have another story. Father returns with a beautiful message. If I title that show, and I probably shouldn’t say this part but it’s true. If we say father returns with a beautiful message or we say woman confronts demons, which one gets more downloads?
I know, it’s so funny. We did an episode on Uncanny recently about somebody’s grandmother coming back and saving them from a potential car crash. And it was interesting. I got some stick on that one from people going like, oh, it’s just all lovey dovey. Where’s the scary stuff? And actually it sparked probably the most emails we’ve ever had. It was the episode that everybody emailed because they were like, oh my God, yes, I’ve had an experience with a loved one as well. They come back. So I think we want scary ghost stories clearly, but actually in real life we want our ghosts to be comforting. And I did, again, again at a live show a night, I was asking people for their ghost stories in the audience. And this woman got talking about a story that had happened in her house and she said, but it’s not the ghost I wanted. The ghost I wanted was my dad. He passed away and I’ve always wanted him to come back to me and he never has. And I’m really annoyed by that. I wish he would appear to me as a ghost. So it’s a strange thing, isn’t it, that paradox of kind of, sometimes we want ghosts to appear to us, we want certain ghosts to appear to us, but they’re not necessarily the ones we get.
That happened to my wife during a reading we did on the show one time. She wanted a message from her mom, she got a message. And I’m very striking and dead on message from a high school friend who had passed away. And what I’ve done on my show is I might give it the spooky title and it correlates to a spooky story. But I also include some of those heartwarming ones. I kind of look at as like, you’re going to eat your vegetables too. But that’s what I mean, because the thing is that I think you talked as we began, it’s a good bookend, that the paranormal is like things are different from normal. Well, I think that the quote paranormal is a continuum, particularly when we’re talking about ghosts and things and spirits. It’s like the real life, right? We see beautiful acts of kindness and great things, and then we see war and man’s inhumanity of man, that’s in our everyday experience and that’s in a continuum. To me. The paranormal specifically about ghosts is similar. You’ve got these beautiful, beautiful things and then you’ve got these pretty horrible things. It seems like to me there’s a correl–, it’s very similar. What are your thoughts?
Well, no, definitely. I think also, I think the paranormal mirrors society doesn’t it, and our sort of interpretations of it, but also our interest in it. And I would say in the UK right now, we’re living through this very strange and chaotic time. Well, all of us all around the world are. But we’ve had covid, we have climate change, we have war in Ukraine and war in the Middle East, and it’s… when our world is frightening, we go looking for another world outside it, I think. And when we’re confronted by death, and I think we’re confronted by it in a way, we haven’t really been since the second World War at the moment, then I think we go looking for answers to what might lie beyond it. And so I think there’s definite reasons why there is a real resurgence of interest at the moment in the paranormal.
I think clearly it’s an evergreen subject. We’ve been talking about it for thousands of years and we’ll continue to, I think. But I can feel tangibly, I mean if you look on television now, there’s so much more horror out there, so many more ghost story novels as well as there’s a boom of interest in it at the moment. So I think there’s definite reasons there for that. But yeah, I dunno. It’s an interesting thing, isn’t it? I think society is horrific and art reflects it back. So look at the great horror films of the sixties or going right back to Jacobian Times, the dramas of that era and sort of Macbeth, Shakespeare’s Macbeth. I mean, it reflects back the kind of turbulent period. So I think, yeah, but it all boils down to the same ancient search for answers really.
Well, a great place to kind of go on that journey is with Danny Robins. Now Danny, you do books, live appearances, podcaster, tv presenter, you do it all. I don’t know how you find the time, but where can people go to plug into anything? And obviously anything specifically right now that’s hot button that you’d like to guide people to, now is the time.
For. Sure. So you can find my website, dannyrobins.com. That’s one B in Robins. And yeah, so there’s all sorts now. I mean, my play 2:22 A Ghost Story will be coming up to the States next year, which is then to look forward to. And I think Uncanny the TV series will also be on in the States next year, hopefully. But the Uncanny podcast and the Battersea Poltergeist podcast and The Witch Farm, my other podcast, they’re all available now. You can hear that we’ve already, I know, got quite a few fans in the States and they’re all on their Spotify and Apple and also BBC Sounds, any sort of platform. Hopefully the way you find your pods, you’ll find those. But yeah, my book Into The Uncanny as well, check it out. But you know what, I had two people from the States the other day who came to one of my live shows in Brighton down here on the South coast, two women who’d flown across from America from my live show. So I was pretty blown away by that. So if there’s anybody else who fancies doing that, then my live show’s on until December the first. Fly over, book those tickets and I’ll see you here.
Fantastic. Our guest today has been Danny Robins. Danny, thank you so much for joining us today.
Thank you, Jim. A pleasure.
Danny is great. Happy Halloween everyone. Remember Halloween doesn’t end for us now. We do it 24/7/365 on all the podcasts, the Paranormal Podcast, Jim Harold’s Campfire. And certainly if you haven’t, check out all of Danny’s great work. He was just a fantastic guest. Take care. Happy Halloween and stay spooky. Bye-Bye everybody.
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