(CW: The McIlwraith Statements is a story about a woman who can see ghosts. This post deals with some of the themes seen in the show: death, murder, and paranormal beings.)
Sarah was a part of an infamous research study when she was a PhD student at a university in Glasgow. The study was called Investigation into Paranormal Phenomena, or IPP for short. The study was looking for proof of the paranormal – ghosts, demons, and communication with the spirit world through figures such as psychics and mediums. 15 years have passed since this study, and Sarah hasn’t spoken about what happened during that time. The study was led by Dr Robin Strother, who was a parapsychologist. He was a very respected figure within his field, but became a well-known name when a scandal about him broke. Strother became so well-known when this scandal broke, that Sarah assumes that at least the majority of her listeners know what happened, but she briefly explains in episode one that he “was the man at the centre of one of the biggest scandals in scientific history.” Sarah’s name, however, wasn’t attached to this scandal, and she doesn’t think anyone listening would know her name. The reason why she has decided to talk about her experiences during the study 15 years later is that Strother recently passed away, and as she’s recording episode one, his funeral (which she attends, after some uncertainty) is the following day.
Oh, and there’s one more detail. A pretty big one, actually. Sarah, who works on a study to investigate paranormal phenomena? She can see ghosts.
Sarah has been able to see ghosts since she was a child. As an adult, she’s tried to ignore them, especially when she had her degree to focus on, but she obviously didn’t know any better when she was small. When she told her parents, they didn’t believe her, and sent her for a series of tests to find out what was wrong with her. These tests didn’t prove anything, and Sarah learned to hide her ability. The same goes for when she was working on the study, she couldn’t tell anyone she could see the ghosts they had been sent to look for.
Episode one, titled First Encounters, naturally starts at the beginning of the story, way back when she first meets Strother and the rest of the research team, and she also talks about what happened to her while she was working late at the university one night. I won’t spoil the conclusion of this story, but Sarah sees a ghost of a child, and as the story continues into episode two, she follows the ghost outside the building and through the city.
The team are asked to investigate hauntings in and around the area where the university’s located, and Sarah talks about what happened during the course of these investigations as she records her statements. Their first on-site investigation was at an old school, which had been closed for a couple of years. They’d had reports of people thinking the building was haunted, as screams could be heard coming from it. Sarah discovers the truth behind this haunting, being careful to not reveal her big secret.
The study doesn’t only focus on ghosts, as the team also investigates psychics and mediums. Sarah describes how they were called into the university, and the tests they went through in order to collect data for the study. One medium’s time with the study is Sarah’s second story (after that first story of the ghost one late night at the university), in episode 3 – False Medium. Sarah’s unnerved by some details about her that this medium shouldn’t know, such as details about her father; but there’s a much more sinister encounter with another medium in episodes six and seven, Future Blind and The Best Intentions.
Sarah doesn’t only talk about her experiences during the time of the study, there’s also the mystery of who the study was funded by. This is something that Sarah talks about right from episode one. She initially has no idea about where the money for the study came from, she never knew, as she suspiciously was never given any information about it when she was a student. It’s a thread that continues through both seasons, as Sarah continues to investigate, and follow more leads.
There are two complete seasons of The McIlwraith Statements, and Ghostly Thistle is currently releasing The Antiques Shop. In this show, an undergraduate student finds a job in an old antiques shop, owned by a mysterious woman, where things are not quite as they seem.
- Website: https://ghostlythistle.com/
- Twitter: @GhostlyThistle
- Ko-fi: https://ko-fi.com/ghostlythistle
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