The Pursuit of the Paranormal Podcast. To those of us with an imaginative bent, it could invoke images of heroic characters tearing down a hill after fleeing ghostly apparitions, bearing torches and EMF meters, like a grown-up version of Scooby Doo. However, the truth is often strange and in this case, very different. The UK podcast, hosted by friends Ash Ellis and Greg Thomlinson, is a fascinating and down-to-earth production with no hint of frivolous or trivial content. It is a podcast for those seriously interested in the field of paranormal research. Their show includes interviews and chats with expert witnesses of the paranormal, authors, group discussions, and even videos of their paranormal investigations (which appear on YouTube and their Facebook feed).
Their friendship had an unlikely start, with them both being admins on the same social media poker group. They started chatting, in between moderating the poker players, and discovered they had a common interest in the paranormal. It sounds incredible, but they decided to do a podcast together without even meeting in person. Greg told me that they have still only met once in real life! You’d never guess it to listen to them though. They have an easy rapport with each other and a way of making their interviewees feel relaxed enough to open up about their experiences.
So it seems that fate has brought these two together, in an unlikely meeting of minds, rather than geography, with Greg hailing from Oxford and Ash 250 miles north of that, in Manchester.
Their interview list is a long one, despite the podcast only being in its first year, and includes prestigious guests such as; Matt Paranormal, Ben Walgate, Richard Tomson, Craig Bryant, John Russell, and John Edmonds from Stardust Ranch.
So I asked them, “How did this all start? What made you interested in the paranormal in the first place?”
Greg answers first.
“When I was growing up, I used to get freaked out watching programs by Arthur, C Clark. He used to have a program, (I think it was called World of Mysteries) and I used to watch weird stuff on there when I was younger and it used to freak me out. There was one particular one about poltergeists, and I think it just spurred my interest. Then it moved into UFO’s and all that kind of stuff.”
“Well, my main interest has been in the UFO side of it all, and that stems back to a UFO sighting I had when I was 10 years old.”
“Wait, what?” My interest is highly piqued now. “You have to tell us what happened!”
He continues, “It was in 1997. I know that’s the year, ‘cause it’s when Halley’s Comet was as well (or the Hale Bop Comet). It was in 1997 and it was visible for quite a few moments in the sky and we’d go out quite a lot and have a look at the comet.”
“We looked at the comet and all of a sudden we all saw one that looked like a triangle shape. Three, like stars in a triangle shape. They were just moving from one part of the sky all the way across. That took about 40 seconds, 45 seconds to go across the whole sky. It wasn’t a plane and you couldn’t see the colour of it, but you could tell there was some sort of an outline, like the sky behind where it was traveling got darker when it went past. Since then I’ve been wanting to find out more. That’s my only UFO sighting and that was 24 years ago, and I’m still waiting for the second one.”
Ash is driven by a passion to find an explanation for the UFO he saw. Recently, he fulfilled a lifetime ambition by visiting the famous Rendlesham Forest in Suffolk (a 1,500-hectare mixed woodland owned by the Forestry Commission with recreation facilities for walkers, cyclists, and campers. It was the scene of The Rendlesham Forest Incident in December 1980, where members of the US Air Force claimed to have had close encounters with unidentified aircraft).
Unfortunately, not a lot happened on the investigation, but Ash was still pleased he had been, as the area is steeped in history and mysterious happenings have been reported there spanning hundreds of years. He fully intends to revisit one day and still considers it to be one of his ‘bucket-list’ locations.
The guys say that they don’t often get scared on investigations, except for the night when they met for the first time. They decided to investigate Castle Ring at Cannock Chase (an Iron Age hill fort, situated high up on the southern edge of Cannock Chase, Staffordshire, England) and both had the feeling that they should not be there. Greg says, “-that was the only time that I’ve felt like I didn’t really want to be there, towards the end.”
One of Greg’s other main paranormal experiences was when he was investigating with his paranormal group at The Ancient Ram Inn in Gloucestershire, UK. They were doing an Ouija board session when it shot up into the air.
Another was in his grandparents’ house when he was helping to clear out the furniture, (his grandmother was about to move out). Several members of his family had previously passed away in the house and he was in the room where his grandfather had passed away. He had been permitted by his grandmother to do a mini investigation before the house was emptied, and so he and his daughter were in the bedroom when his daughter noticed the door had opened by itself. He closed the door and it immediately opened again. That was enough for his daughter and she asked to leave. On leaving, he said, “thank you”, and reviewed his camera footage later. He says that, in the footage, an orb appears in front of him and sweeps out of the door, following the same route that he takes only seconds later. He had been completely unaware that the orb was there.
A long-forgotten UFO contactee case is brought back to life by investigators. The stories of the blonde E.T. group named The Friendship have been popular folklore in South America for decades, but this book is the first full-length investigation of the case to be written in English. This case study leaves no stone unturned, as it covers UFOs, escaped Nazis, and South American mythology, in an attempt to discover the true origins of The Friendship group. The investigation also includes radical new techniques, that may change the nature of paranormal investigations as we know them.
Ash’s most memorable ghostly incident also took place in a good old British pub (they are great places to investigate, should you get the opportunity) in Northwich, near Manchester. Poker was involved (naturally), and they were playing in the back rooms of the pub. There was only one door in and out. One guy left. Moments later, in his peripheral vision, Ash saw the door open and a guy came in and stood behind him. He thought it was the same guy. The guy said something to the table and no-one else reacted. He didn’t want to be rude so he turned round to speak to the man. There was no-one there…
He asked the girl who was sitting by the door, “Did Dave come back in?”
“No, no-one has come back in,” she replied, “you look like you’ve seen a ghost.”
He said, “I think I just have!”
When it comes to the production of the podcast, the guys have managed to religiously put out an episode per week for the past nine months, sometimes even being able to put out extra content for their listeners. This has undoubtedly contributed to the success of the podcast, with them being nominated for the 2021 Paranormal Podcast Awards (in the Alien and UFO category). That’s quite an achievement, especially after such a short amount of time. I asked them what they attributed their success to.
“We were completely shocked by that,” says Greg.
Ash adds, “We are privileged to be nominated.”
Greg continues, “- we put a show out regularly, we are true to ourselves and try to do things that are interesting to ourselves and often not as well known. We’ve had an opportunity to air some of the lesser known cases. So, [like] our first episode was about Yowie, an Australian Bigfoot-type cryptid. And before that, I didn’t even know that existed. I’ve got relatives in Australia and they thought it was a chocolate bar!”
How do you decide who to interview? I ask.
Ash says, “By chatting and reaching out to people on Instagram and Facebook, some big names. It might be a particular book that we’ve read and we reach out to the author -topics that we’re passionate about because we want to learn as well.”
“My eyes have been opened to so much, to so many possibilities in the last nine months. Some of the stuff we talk about I wouldn’t even have dreamt about previously. I wouldn’t even have given them a second thought. So you think, ‘that can’t exist, that can’t be a thing’.”
“I try to get another perspective on that topic that I’ve heard on another podcast. I try and reach out to different people, and some of them come on.”
Luckily for those of us who host podcasts on these subjects, we find the paranormal community to be (mostly) a friendly and helpful bunch. There is always someone ready to recommend a subject or person to chat to, people are happy to talk about their experiences, and indeed, many seem relieved to be listened to and believed.
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When it comes to listeners talking about their personal experiences, lots of people feel they can’t talk to their family, friends, or work colleagues about it, because they’re worried that they’re going to be found to be crazy. Often, when I hear a story from someone, they will say, “I’ve never told anybody that before because I didn’t want to appear like I was a nut.” It’s a really important service to be able to offer. It’s a bit like paranormal therapy.
Greg completely agrees, “Yeah, and some of the people that we’ve spoken to, we do it via Zoom and we can see their faces a lot of the time.”
“It’s quite an eye opener (that the listeners of the podcast don’t see), but you can see the [sort of] the anguish on the people’s faces when they’re telling you their account of things. That doesn’t come across necessarily in the podcast, especially when they’re talking about a subject or an experience that seems to be completely alien (for want of a better phrase), from the norm’.”
“You can see the pain in people’s faces when they’re talking about stuff and it’s nice for them to be able to talk to us. And it does get like you say, a bit of therapy for them sometimes- that they’re just able to share it. I know you mentioned and asked about, popularity, why do we think we’ve been successful or been popular?”
“I should say, we never make a judgment on the podcast. Let the person tell the story. We just literally have the conversation and let people make their own minds up, because some of the stuff we’ve heard, and people have talked to us about, if only 1% of it was true, even then it’s absolutely mind blowing.”
Ash and Greg’s podcast may still be in its infancy, but they mean to join the heavyweight stalwarts of the paranormal podcast community. Their willingness to tackle meaty subjects with a mature attitude and large doses of social conscience will take them a long way towards achieving their goal. They care, passionately, about their subjects and their listeners, in equal measure. It’s a good attitude that will take them far in this genre. I can practically guarantee that you haven’t heard the last of The Pursuit of the Paranormal Podcast, and nor should you. They will be around in this world (and out of it) for a long time to come yet.