The Beast of Bodmin Moor Explained (& Real Life Origin)

In an episode of Truth Seekers, the gang attempt to track down the elusive Beast of Bodmin Moor – a phantom cat with real-world origins.

WARNING! Spoilers for Truth Seekers ahead

In an episode of Truth Seekers, the gang attempt to track down the elusive Beast of Bodmin Moor – a phantom cat with real-world origins. Available on Prime Video, Truth Seekers is the first television project from Stolen Picture, which was founded by Simon Pegg and Nick Frost in 2016. A horror-comedy, it tells the story of Gus (Frost) – a full-time broadband installer and part-time paranormal investigator – who lost his wife under mysterious circumstances. Partnered with new recruit Elton (Samson Kayo), Gus travels the UK, fixes wi-fi issues, and tracks down ghosts. All the while, he slowly uncovers a horrific conspiracy that threatens to bring about the end of the world.

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Inspired by The X-Files, Truth Seekers largely uses a “monster of the week” format with the gang, comprised of Gus, Elton, Helen (Susie Wokoma), Astrid (Emma D’Arcy), and sometimes Richard (Malcolm McDowell), investigating a different, haunted location (and ghost) in each episode. In Truth Seekers season 1, episode 5, “The Ghost of the Beast of Bodmin”, they attempt to track down the Beast of Bodmin Moor – a phantom cat (like a leopard or a panther) from British folklore – but it turns out to be a hoax, used to draw the group further into the conspiracy at the heart of the plot. While Truth Seekers reveals the Beast to be a fake, its real-world origins are a little more muddled, with a potential solution that could give Tiger King a run for its money.

Related: Truth Seekers Cast Guide: Where You’ve Seen The Actors Before

Strangely, phantom cat sightings are fairly common in the United Kingdom; the Beast of Bodmin Moor being the most famous example – though Scotland’s Beast of Buchan also deserves a mention – and a relatively recent addition to British folklore. Said to haunt the moorlands in Cornwall, England, the Beast rose to prominence in the late 1970s following numerous supposed sightings of a big, black cat and reports of mutilated livestock in the area. While various investigators have attempted to debunk the Beast’s legend, many have suggested that big cats (leopards, panthers, jaguars, and pumas mostly) have, on occasion, been let loose in Britain, thus offering a rational explanation for these “supernatural” occurrences.

In 1976, the Dangerous Wild Animals Act passed into UK law, prohibiting people from owning such animals without a proper license. Some have hypothesized that various big cats were released from captivity following the passing of this law, with owners unable to fulfill the new license requirements and unwilling to face legal repercussions. Given that the Beast of Bodmin Moor arose in the late ’70s, this theory certainly makes sense; similar events could account for a number of phantom cat sightings throughout British folklore.

Additionally, the era is relevant to the Beast’s inclusion in Truth Seekers – with co-creators Simon Pegg and Nick Frost growing up in the 1970s. As such, they were likely influenced by the legend in their formative years and – as the show would suggest – have become frustrated that its stature has diminished in recent times. Episode 5 features a running joke where Gus and his boss Dave (Pegg) try to hype the legend up; the rest of the team show indifference towards the Beast and its supposed legacy. Ironically, as the only real-world legend incorporated into the show, the Beast is also the only one proven to be a hoax throughout season 1, despite a deluge of invented ghosts and phenomena existing within the Truth Seekers universe. Whether Pegg and Frost will include more real-world legends in the future remains to be seen — though, sadly, Amazon has yet to commit to Truth Seekers season 2.

Next: What To Expect From Truth Seekers Season 2

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Updated: November 4, 2020 — 8:30 pm

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