A new TV drama series materialises at 9pm tonight, without too much in the way of media fanfare. But perhaps that's for the best. Apparitions is the kind of thing that people will enjoy discovering. Unless, of course, they're sensitive types, in which case they'll probably be horrified and fire off scandalised e-tirades to The Daily Mail.
Back in August, you may recall I was impressed by Ben Stephenson's appearance on an Edinburgh TV Festival panel about risk in TV drama. Back then, the man who would shortly afterwards become Controller, Drama Commissioning, no doubt wished he had a promo-reel of Apparitions to show the assembled cynics, in order to stop their bleating about the Beeb playing everything safe. Because Apparitions is quite a remarkable thing for BBC One to air.
Don't worry, no spoilers, but let's just say that certain elements of Apparitions are not so much near the knuckle, as the knuckle itself, in yo' face. There are inevitably, for a series starring Martin Shaw as an exorcist, strong elements of The Exorcist and Exorcist III at play here (along with a hint of The Exorcist: The Fifth, naturellement), along with echoes of the way in which Russell T Davies handled evil in The Second Coming. But as writer/director Joe Ahearne (he who yelled "Cut! on great Doctor Who episodes like Dalek, Bad Wolf and The Parting Of The Ways - and how nice to see a TV drama largely delivered by a one-man powerhouse) has said, this is not so much a crazy gorefest as a psychological piece. Having seen tonight's first episode, I loved the way it combined the subtler, creepier approach with some real nastiness and a fearless approach to taboo subjects.
Apparitions rides a new wave of TV horror drama. This bodes well for me, and any other writer who feels most comfortable when some kind of darkness/intensity is involved. E4's Dead Set may have been a combination of two arguably outdated elements (28 Days Later-esque shaky-cam zombies and Big Brother parodies), but its mere existence was the best thing about it, transcending such quibbles. November 23 also sees the start of Survivors (pictured above), a remake of Dalek creator Terry Nation's 70s series, which also packs quite the punch and really makes me want to go for that flu jab I've been putting off.
Long may the new TV Horror Wave Of Doom continue. Certainly long enough for me to wade in and play.
BBC Apparitions press pack, including interviews with Martin Shaw and Joe Ahearne
BBC Survivors press pack, including quotes from creator Adrian Hodges