Haunted Beebs on TV: The Vertical Plane / Out Of This World

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lurkio
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Haunted Beebs on TV: The Vertical Plane / Out Of This World

Post by lurkio » Tue Jun 19, 2018 10:58 pm

In the 1980s, when schoolteacher Ken Webster was living in Dodleston, Cheshire, he would regularly borrow a BBC Micro and a 5.25-inch floppy disc drive from the school where he worked. The Beeb had the Edword ROM installed, and the machine would often be left unattended at his house, with the wordprocessor running. On several occasions, he returned to the Beeb to find that strange messages had been left on the screen or on disc. At the time, Webster was living with his girlfriend.

According to the Amazon blurb for The Vertical Plane (the book in which he published his account of the affair), Webster was "in the extraordinary position of corresponding directly with an individual who had lived on the site of his own cottage four centuries earlier. The correspondence began with messages left on his home computer on the kitchen table, and ended with communications scrawled directly onto paper. Fully prepared for some form of elaborate hoax, Webster found to his consternation that the language of the messages tallied precisely with 16th century English usage ... The Vertical Plane is a riveting personal experience of an inexplicable fault in the fabric of time – and a moving account of a relationship mediated across four hundred years."

9780008292645_Cover.jpg
Front cover of The Vertical Plane

In 1996 the BBC covered the story in the TV programme Out Of This World, presented by Carol Vorderman. It included dramatic reconstructions by actors who were suspiciously telegenic and an investigative debunking of the events by a very young Dr Richard Wiseman.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ipz43IHiK-0&t=26m24s



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1WXSjRvOYr4&t=16m14s



The screenshots below are taken from YouTube uploads of the two episodes of the programme that covered the story.

(Incidentally, this story has been mentioned on Stardot once before.)

:idea:
Last edited by lurkio on Thu Jun 21, 2018 1:31 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Haunted Beebs on TV: The Vertical Plane / Out Of This World

Post by lurkio » Tue Jun 19, 2018 11:00 pm

1.jpg
"Does anyone know what this thing is?"

2.jpg
The most dramatic shot of a Beeb ever

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9.jpg
"We need to talk about Edword."

10.jpg
"Oh, no! Someone's beaten my high score on Chuckie Egg."

:idea:
Last edited by lurkio on Thu Jun 21, 2018 8:57 am, edited 4 times in total.

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Re: Haunted Beebs on TV: The Vertical Plane / Out Of This World

Post by lurkio » Tue Jun 19, 2018 11:02 pm

11.jpg
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Spooky message from the future

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Dr Wiseman isn't happy

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That's no way to treat a floppy

f182.jpg
Photo of Debbie from the book The Vertical Plane

:idea:
Last edited by lurkio on Tue Jun 19, 2018 11:21 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Haunted Beebs on TV: The Vertical Plane / Out Of This World

Post by lcww1 » Wed Jun 20, 2018 6:07 am

Fascinating, and rather delightful! And somewhat Alan Garner-ish, though the events above taking place in a different part of Cheshire.....

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Re: Haunted Beebs on TV: The Vertical Plane / Out Of This World

Post by vanpeebles » Wed Jun 20, 2018 9:04 am

I bought the book after it got mentioned on the speccy forum. The book got reprinted just this year, well worth a read actually.

It's weird in that it's very entertaining, breezy, lightly written book, with weird stuff as part of it. It's not like a ZOMG super natural book, with serious over tones.

Very enjoyable.

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Re: Haunted Beebs on TV: The Vertical Plane / Out Of This World

Post by Commie_User » Wed Jun 20, 2018 10:17 pm

Carol Vorderman lied when she said BBCs couldn't connect to a network or that for BBC users, messaging was a thing of the future.

How the BBC forgot so quickly.

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Re: Haunted Beebs on TV: The Vertical Plane / Out Of This World

Post by lurkio » Thu Jun 21, 2018 8:56 am

Commie_User wrote:
Wed Jun 20, 2018 10:17 pm
Carol Vorderman lied when she said BBCs couldn't connect to a network
Yes, although I think the point she was trying to make was that it was apparently impossible for the Beeb in Webster's house to have been receiving data (text) from another machine at a remote location. Then again, it didn't need to: it would have been easy enough for someone to type the "ghostly" messages in when no one was looking!

:idea:
Last edited by lurkio on Thu Jun 21, 2018 9:02 am, edited 2 times in total.


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Re: Haunted Beebs on TV: The Vertical Plane / Out Of This World

Post by lurkio » Thu Jun 21, 2018 10:12 am

vanpeebles wrote:
Thu Jun 21, 2018 9:37 am
Have you read the book yet? :)
Yep!

:idea:


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Re: Haunted Beebs on TV: The Vertical Plane / Out Of This World

Post by RobC » Thu Jun 21, 2018 9:30 pm

This has come up on here before...

I loved the bit in the Carol Vorderman show where they do some linguistic analysis on the messages and on the book and find them to be extremely similar :)

Doing a bit of googling, it seems that a guy called Gary Rowe did some investigating at the time and was told by the 2109 characters that they'd contact him through his TRS-80 if he'd fit an Edword chip to it! I'd have thought that they'd have known that 6502 code wouldn't run on a Z80 :lol:

Also, I find it a bit sad that there's no love in the future for View or Wordwise!

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Re: Haunted Beebs on TV: The Vertical Plane / Out Of This World

Post by lurkio » Thu Jun 21, 2018 11:06 pm

RobC wrote:
Thu Jun 21, 2018 9:30 pm
I loved the bit in the Carol Vorderman show where they do some linguistic analysis on the messages and on the book and find them to be extremely similar
What a remarkable coincidence. :-k

vanpeebles wrote:
Thu Jun 21, 2018 10:59 am
Enjoy it [the book]?
It's full of remarkable coincidences!

:)

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