Judaism
Advertisement

Title card with lettering that mimics the Hebrew aleph-bet.

So Haunt Me is a British television sitcom that was produced by Cinema Verity for the BBC. It stars the Jewish English actress Miriam Karlin as the ghost of Mrs. Yetta Feldman, a stereotypical Jewish mother. The series originally aired for three seasons on BBC One between February 23, 1992 and February 6, 1994. Eighteen 30-minute episodes were made along with one hour-long Christmas/Hanukkah special that was first broadcast on December 20, 1992.

In the first episode, the non-Jewish Rokeby family move into the small suburban house that is haunted by Yetta Feldman. Although she had frightened away all of the other people who occupied her former home after her death, Yetta Feldman takes an immediate liking to Sally Rokeby and her young son David. She decides to allow the Rokeby family to stay. Over the course of the series, Yetta Feldman and the Rokeby family learn to coexist and help each other.

Plot

Peter Rokeby loses his job as a copywriter at an advertising agency. He decides to become a freelance writer and also hopes to finish the novel that he has been working on for twelve years. Due to his change in financial circumstances, Peter and his family are forced to move to a smaller house. The family consists of Peter's wife Sally, their teenage daughter Tammy, their young son David and their pet Corgi dog Hemingway. The house to which they move is a small suburban one, although it seems somehow darker than all the other ones in the neighborhood. Over the past twenty-one years, sixteen different families have lived in the house. None of them have stayed longer than three months.

On her first night in the house, Sally hears moaning. She goes downstairs to investigate. She hears a woman's voice, turns around and sees the ghost of an old woman. To Sally's surprise, the ghost does not disappear when she turns on the light. Hoping to drive the ghost away, Sally lashes two candlesticks together to make a cross. The ghost says, "If you could do the Star of David, then I'd be impressed", thus revealing herself to be Jewish. The ghost introduces herself as, "the late Yetta Feldman", and adds, "I'll have been dead twenty-one years this Passover." Mrs. Feldman realizes that she is not frightening Sally and stops trying. Instead she sits down and tells her life story.

Yetta Feldman's husband Sam died before their daughter Carole was born. Mrs. Feldman always makes a point of saying that her daughter's name is "Carole with an E". When Carole grew up, Yetta Feldman did not approve of the young men she dated, saying, "Not nice boys... Not doctors, lawyers, accountants. My Carole went for pop singers. Successful ones? No. Beatles? No. Cockroaches. Tarantulas." Carole told her mother that she was moving in with a pop singer, of which Mrs. Feldman says, "I said to her, 'Carole,... you're no daughter of mine. I cast you out forever. Never darken my door again.' And do you know something? She never visited. She never phoned. Not even a card on Mother's Day." In the hope that Carole would return someday, Yetta always kept a pot of her homemade chicken soup, Carole's favorite food, simmering on the stove. Eventually, she grew tired of waiting for Carole to come home, drank the pot of soup and choked to death when a chicken bone stuck in her throat.

Mrs. Feldman says that she likes Sally, adding that Sally must be a little bit Jewish. She upsets Sally, however, when she says, "I'll let you stay." Mrs. Feldman is adamant that the house is still her house and that it is a Jewish house.

Although Sally can see and hear Yetta Feldman her husband Peter cannot. He naturally assumes that his wife is hallucinating. He is then surprised when their son David talks to Mrs. Feldman as well. David, who used to imagine that an invisible yellow dwarf called Mr. Barraclough lived in the basement of their old house, is delighted to meet Mrs. Feldman. He immediately starts peppering his speech with Yiddish words and Yiddish-influenced expressions that he picked up from her.

From their elderly Jewish neighbor Mr. Bloom, Peter learns that a Mrs. Yetta Feldman did indeed use to live in their house and that, in a sense, she never left it. Gradually, Peter starts to hear Yetta Feldman and eventually becomes able to see her as well. It is only the teenage Tammy who never gains the ability to see or hear Mrs. Feldman.

Peter calls in a Reform rabbi to try to exorcise the ghost. When the rabbi finds out that the ghost is that of Yetta Feldman, whom he knew as a boy when she was alive, he leaves, saying that the entire Israeli army would not be able to move her.

The Rokeby family conclude that the only way to get Mrs. Feldman to move on is to track down her estranged daughter Carole. Unfortunately, Mrs. Feldman cannot remember the name of the pop singer with whom Carole fell in love. She does, however, think it has some connection to birds. The Rokeby family and Mrs. Feldman learn to share the house. The Rokeby family even leave the house for their meals during Yom Kippur.

Eventually, an American friend of Peter and Sally, who is a keen record collector, tells them that a song called "Carole With an E" was recorded by a singer called Jack Daw. Mrs. Feldman immediately remembers that was the name of the man man with whom her daughter fell in love. Peter and Sally find out that Jack Daw now goes by his real name of Jack Dawlish. He is a music producer and is married to Carole who works with him. By pretending to interview him for a magazine article, Peter and Sally gain entrance to Jack Dawlish's office. They manage to persuade Carole to come back to their house to speak to her late mother's ghost.

Yette Feldman and her daughter are reconciled. During their talk, Carole reveals that she is pregnant. Far from being persuaded to move on, Mrs. Feldman decides that she has to linger as a ghost so that she can see her daughter again and see her grandchild.

Cast

  • Yetta Feldman - Miriam Karlin
  • Peter Rokeby - Geirge Costihan
  • Sally Rokeby - Tessa Peake-Jones
  • Tammy Rokeby - Laura Howard (credited as Laura Simmons for the first season)
  • David Rokeby - Jeremy Green
  • Mr. Bloom - David Graham
  • Julia Deakin - Carole Dawlish

External links

Advertisement