In Haunt

By Alice Durocher, PhD Researcher, Manchester Centre for Gothic Studies 

Since 2009, Fleckly Bennett has been pushing the boundaries of spooky ghost walks in Manchester with a series of live and immersive performances. His Manchester Ghost Walks now extend well beyond the walls of the city centre... and even beyond the UK. With his outdoor walks now being able to take place again after the pandemic, it is a great time to check-in with the Ghost Walker Extraordinaire and see how he coped with lockdown, how he was able to adapt to a global pandemic and how it sparked inspiration and new and exciting ways to bring ghosts and other ghouls to Manchester and beyond. 

Flecky Bennett

In 2009, Ian Warring, a Manchester-based actor who graduated from the Manchester Metropolitan School of Theatre and who starred in TV drama Bloody Murder, among others, created the character of Flecky Bennett when he realised his passion for ghost stories and spooky histories could be paired with his passion for acting.  

Since then, Flecky Bennett Productions has encountered great success and now hosts over fifteen ghost tours in Greater Manchester, from the Original Manchester Ghost Walk, taking audiences to explore the dark past and stories of the Industrial city, to the Didsbury Ghost Walk, where visitors hear about the Gate of Hell and the ghosts of the town. Tours in AncoatsStockportAltrincham and Chorlton, among others, are also taking place regularly. Flecky also organises exclusive walks for Halloween and Christmas, as well as live online events, to celebrate the holidays with ghosts. 

During the pandemic, and with the help of his partner, Emma, they created over eighteen new online and virtual ghost walks such as the ‘Friday Fright Night’ on Facebook and Youtube and exclusive Zoom performances. These virtual events allowed Flecky to think outside of Greater Manchester and to expand into London ghost walks online. Outside of England, Flecky is also developing a walking tour in Paris: he gave us more details about it below. 

You’ve hosted several online and live-streamed performances during lockdown. How did you bring your unique style to online performances? 

On March 13th 2020, as a professional actor I had to postpone all live performances. I was thus forced to think outside of the box. Having been trained to perform in front of the camera and appearing in several TV programmes, it was second nature to take the performances online. Over the last 11 years, all Flecky Bennett Productions have been the format of weird, wonderful and ghostly stories of a chosen location, so it was simply a case of transferring that winning formula to the online market. Although it was incredibly enjoyable being in front of the camera again, devising a new online performance every 2 weeks was incredibly challenging. With the established 'on street' performances it would take 6 months of research followed by a month of rehearsals before putting the finished product in front of a paying audience. Going online meant new disciplines to learn and also new skills, including film and sound editing, graphic design, broadcasting and even lighting and special effects. I also didn't want to broadcast any of my established award-winning performances as this would have affected future ticket sales once we were allowed to reopen. Over the last 18 months, I created 18 brand new original content shows for Lockdown. This was made extra special by having my ever-supportive partner Emma help with the online process as well as the research and behind the scenes. 

A lot of your upcoming tours are almost sold out, with a few tickets remaining… And you hosted your first post-pandemic, in-person walking tours recently, how did it feel to be back sharing your stories and acting with the public? 

Over the past 11 years I have built up a very strong following and I was in a very fortunate position with every performance selling out well before the actual date. Private bookings were also very highly in demand. I have just recently reopened the outdoor performances after 18 months of being unable to perform out in the world and I was definitely worried that the audiences may not return! However, every performance since my return has been sold out with my audiences unanimously agreeing that there is no substitute for a live performance. For me as an actor, seeing and hearing the audience’s responses is what makes it all worthwhile. Doing the online shows, whilst enjoyable, audience interaction was definitely much missed.  

Can you tell us about any changes or new stories that you brought to your performances post-pandemic? 

Due to the ongoing Covid situation and my responsibility to try and keep my audiences safe, I have decided to focus purely on the outdoor performances with a view to reopening the indoor location performances at a later date when it is safe to do so. I'm doing the outdoor performances almost exactly as pre-Covid, with some social distancing warnings to the audiences. The main difference is that I can’t share any props or have any close physical contact during audience participation sections. To minimize the effect that these new 'normals' might have, I have incorporated them into my scripts so the audience don't even really notice.  

Flecky Bennett

Can you tell us about your favourite tours to perform? Are there any particularly spooky sites that inspired you in Manchester? 

People are amazed at the amount of ghost stories connected with Manchester City Centre. When I first began 11 years ago, I had lots of people telling me that Manchester City Centre wasn't atmospheric enough for a ghost walk. However, I soon changed people’s minds and perceptions by introducing them to various little hidden nooks and crannies that would often be overlooked. Take for example the finale of the Original Manchester Ghost Walk, this location is outside Chetham’s Library which is not only the oldest working library in Europe, it also employed the most famous necromancer, Dr John Dee, who summoned the Devil within its walls. If that's not the best ending for a ghost walk anywhere in the world, I don't know what is! 

Can you tell us a bit more about some projects outside of Greater Manchester, and even outside of the UK? 

Before Brexit and Covid, my partner Emma and I would go to Paris on holiday. I was quite surprised that Paris didn't have a ghost walk and I saw the potential for  Flecky Bennett's Paris Ghost Walk. Immediately arriving back in the U.K, I set about writing a script and planning out a route. I also purchased the website address My intention was to perform this myself several times a year. However the uncertainty of Brexit and the permits which are now required for an actor to perform in Europe has unfortunately affected my original idea. In 2022 I am hoping to operate the Paris Ghost Walk from the UK by employing several French actors to take on the role of Flecky and do the walks on my behalf. 

Flecky Bennett

Find more information on Flecky Bennett’s website and book your tickets to Flecky Bennett ghost walk, a virtual performance, or a private booking at or on Eventbrite.  




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