Specter Spotlight: The House That Television Built

gerald

This week’s Spectre Spotlight is concerning a house in the rolling hills of County Durham. Chattersly Hall, a stately home with 12 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms, one tennis court and reportedly a ‘wet room’ the floor of which reportedly collapsed due to years of gallons of baby oil covering the lino. Chattersly Hall was named thus by its previous owner, the now deceased and legendary actor and icon Leslie Chattersly, star of the 70s sitcoms ‘They Don’t Like It Up Them’, a tale of a down-on-their-luck conservative couple forced to flat share with the camp owner, and ‘Most Fathers Don’t Want Them’ the classic ‘will-they-wont-they’ romantic comedy which was a trailblazer at the time for introducing incestuous themes to suppertime television. His famous catchphrases such as “Oh don’t put that there” and “It tasted better the last time, Dad” echoed throughout living rooms and playgrounds across the country, but at the height of his fame he withdrew from the public eye preferring to spend time with his 15 dogs (all called ‘Baby Les’) and 2 cats (one of which was called ‘Big Les’, the other less-favored was simply referred to as ‘you there’) at Chattersly Hall.

A star from birth Leslie loved being the center of attention, from a young age he would put on plays for his mother and aunties in the living room (his version of Caligula was reportedly ‘faint-inducing’). However, he was only happy when he was hiding behind a character. Rarely giving interviews and appearing uncomfortable and awkward when asked about his private life, very little was known about the real Leslie Chattersly beyond his famous roles. By the age of 50 he had completely retired and removed himself from the public eye, even his neighbours (who were admittedly several miles away from him) had little to no interaction with the star. However, he would return to the spotlight for one final time when news of his untimely death would spread across the nation.

Details are unclear regarding the exact cause of his death but it is thought that it was due to an especially vigorous cleaning session. People that had known him in the past had noticed strange behaviours and habits regarding his cleanliness, one time in particular when he was starring in the smash-hit stage show “Mother’s Dresses Don’t Fit Anymore” (that he had written and directed) his co-stars heard screams coming from his dressing room. Upon entering they found him covering himself in bleach hanging from the ceiling whilst a single ant walked across the wooden floor. The story of his demise goes that Leslie was having an episode after seeing dust dancing in the air as a ray of sunshine shone into his bedroom. He was cleaning so frantically that his body couldn’t take it, causing him to have a heart attack which in turn caused him to fall out of his window and fall impaled onto his replica statue of Michelangelo’s David (which he called ‘Sweet Dave’).

The next owner of Chattersly Hall, a young art dealer by the name of Winston Smithe who “never watched television as my eyes are too slow, that’s why I prefer art” had never heard of Leslie Chattersly before buying the house. Two months after purchasing and doing a complete renovation to the house he moved in, he began staying in the same bedroom as Leslie once had (the room Leslie referred incorrectly to as ‘The Budwarr’). A few nights after moving in, Winston began hearing strange noises, sounds like scraping and scrubbing of the floorboards beneath him and the strange smell of bleach and cleaning products filling the air. Terrified, Winston ran from the room, almost falling down the stairs in the process, as he descended the stairs he says he heard a voice from the top floor shout “The budwarr’s filthy, what you been up to Big Les!”.

After this event, Winston spoke to his neighbours who informed him of the history of Chattersly Hall and of Leslie, however, Winston was undeterred and refused to leave the house he had just paid a fortune for. He returned to the house and the next night was awoken again to a whisper in his ear of “That’s not the power socket” one of Leslie’s classic lines from the 1967 science-fiction film “Plug Me In” in which he played an android attempting to become sentient. Winston was disturbed by the events but would decide to attempt to make contact and hopefully peace with the deceased star. Over the next few months, Winston would familiarize himself with the entirety of Leslie’s back catalogue, everything from his television shows to experimental art-films with Andy Warhole. Winston even memorised quotes from Leslie’s life’s work so he could reply once Leslie whispered a line in his ear in the middle of the night.

Winston now reports that activity in Chattersly Hall has calmed down and he actually enjoys interacting with the late-Leslie now “after watching all his shows I’m actually a fan now,” Winston says “so it’s actually quite fun to have him hanging around, plus he’s really good at cleaning the house so I never have to do it myself”. Chattersly Hall will soon be opened to the public so fans of the late actor can have tours around the stately home. As a fan of Leslie myself, I would like to end this piece with one of my favourite lines from the man himself, until next time…

“What do you mean it won’t fit? I’ve only put it in half way!”

                               Leslie Chattersly 1922-1984

 

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