Mystery Map: Ben Shephard and Julia Bradbury talk ghosts, UFOs and weird happenings

In their new spooky two-part ITV show, the duo travel to haunted hotels, investigate raining frogs and visit an extraterrestrial site. We catch up with the pair ahead of the series

Ben Shephard and Julia Bradbury have been charging around Britain on a Scooby Doo-style adventure, to bring us their new two-part show Mystery Map (airs in November on ITV). The pair have been investigating weird and wonderful stories from the Beast of Bodmin moor and the Hampton Court ghosts to the second biggest UFO sighting in the world after Roswell – the Rendlesham Forest incident. They reveal more…


You’re not actually tracking ghosts in your spooky new show, are you?

Julia: Mystery Map is an investigative series that will look at myths and legends. It’s not wholly about ghost stories, although we did touch on the stories of ghosts, like the Hampton Court Ghost – which is believed to be Henry VIII coming back from the dead. It was caught by CCTV cameras, as recently as 2003. We investigate whether it was an impostor or trickster who was cleverly able to fool the people of Hampton Court. I look at the strangest rain the country has ever seen from eggs to vegetables to rocks, and seaweed rain coming down across Gloucestershire – I went to talk to the locals about where it came from and if it was actually seaweed. There are a lot of reasons and explanations behind these stories and a lot of them are not as farfetched as you might think.

Ben: It’s the sharing of the history, it’s exciting, it’s a bit daunting, we all like being kept on the edge our seats, we all like the idea that there’s something that we can’t quite explain. The truth behind the stories isn’t always the most important, you get to experience it in some way and then pass that story on, and then over the years it develops and grows. Whenever there are UFO films coming out, like Men in Black or Close Encounters, there’s a spike in the number of recorded UFO sightings. I think we are really susceptible to the environment that we are in. If you go into an area where you are expecting there to be ghosts, you seem to be more accessible to them as well. It’s being able to share that fear, and intrigue and excitement that we really really enjoy as humans and not experiencing it alone as well.

Where should people visit in Britian for a good spooking?

Ben: The most haunted city in the world is York, which I didn’t know before. They’ve got more reported ghost sightings than anywhere else in the world. Wandering around the streets of York you can go on all sorts of brilliant ghost trips. There are tons of ghosts up there and staying in the Guy Fawkes Hotel is certainly one for the brave of heart. If you’re of a nervous disposition and you don’t like ghosts, don’t go up there unless you want to scare yourself.

Julia: I would have to say Hampton Court. It’s a particularly mysterious place; there are lots of dark corridors and rooms. There are also lots of accounts from many people who have felt that they have brushed up against someone or something, staff will tell you of instances where doors have been locked behind them.

Visit spooky York with Radio Times travel, see here for more details

Ben we hear you spent a night in York’s “haunted” Guy Fawkes Hotel, did you get any sleep?

Ben: They made me stay on my own with the camera. I didn’t sleep very well, but I’m relatively rational about these things. We’d explored the story quite extensively by the time we came to spending a night in the room, and even though I am relatively rational, there’s something very unnerving about spending the night in a room you’ve been told is being haunted by ghosts. The hotel was built on what was an old graveyard. There are without doubt strange spirits going in and out of that hotel that’s for sure.

Tell us about you UFO experience in Suffolk?

Ben: I sat in Rendlesham Forest, listening to a recording about a UFO incident that happened there. It’s the second biggest UFO incident in the world after Roswell. The guys on the audio were talking about this strange light, which seems to be appearing and coming towards them and you can hear the tension and anxiety in their voices. The American Air Force was recording this audio. I sat listening to it in the very spot it happened – it was very spooky. The fact that there were high ranking-officers on in the US Air Force reporting on it, lends real credibility to the story, as they were risking their reputations. There are still so many questions unanswered, which I find absolutely fascinating.

What do you learn about a place through spooky stories?

Ben: We spent the whole of the summer charging up and down the country, I didn’t know Rendlesham Forest, or the Isle of Mull, where we investigated a story about a pilot. It’s just a beautiful, stunning part of the country. When you’re investigating these stories you feel like you are getting to the nitty gritty of a place, you are unearth things, and scratching below the surface. There’s something a little clandestine about it as well. It’s very exciting and a little bit dangerous.

Will you both be doing anymore investigations?

Ben: We’re hoping that the viewers will be inspired by these two shows and say – “we’ve got this brilliant story near us,” and then we can do more.

Watch Mystery Maps this November on ITV

Visit  spooky York with Radio Times travel, see here for more details