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Finding Schumann’s lost violin concerto By Graham Jennings
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TV documentary does Spiritualism few favours Northern mediums high on entertainment value but low on evidence
 
David Traynor channelled Michael Jackson
    David Traynor channelled Michael Jackson

IT WAS difficult to tell if Channel 4’s “My Psychic Life” had deliberately set out to make fun of mediums, or whether they began with the best of intentions and had lost control as the behaviour of their larger-than-life subjects became increasingly farcical.

But let’s not be too hard on those who allowed themselves to be filmed in order to show “what life is like for people who claim they can talk to the dead”.

I’m sure they had the best of intentions tinged, perhaps, with the hope that appearing on TV could, at the very least, attract a few more clients and may even propel them into the limelight and allow them to enjoy the fame and fortune they craved.

We saw openly gay Dean James Fox giving a one-to-one sitting to drag star DJ Zoe in Blackpool, then striding onto the stage of an empty theatre and expressing the hope that one day he could fill an auditorium of that size.

And perhaps he will. But what we saw of his mediumship in front of much smaller audiences suggests it needs further development before that ambition can be fulfilled.

Tweeters who had seen the programme were ruthless in their criticism    Dean James Fox headed for Blackpool
Dean James Fox headed for Blackpool 

 
Another of the featured mediums, David Traynor – hairdresser by day, clairvoyant at night – had similar ambitions. But instead of focusing on becoming such a brilliant medium that the world would come knocking at his door, he decided he needed to knock on an agent’s door to help make his dream come true and be part of what My Psychic Life claimed is the “big business of talking to the dead” which is “thought to be worth over £100 million a year”.

He and his assistant Bazza, his “soulmate” – they both live with Traynor’s wife Andrea – were filmed heading for London for an interview with a management agency. He was still awaiting a response at the end of the programme.

Shellie (left) and her mum Janice
Shellie (left) and her mum Janice
 
 
   

We saw Bazza’s dead father talking to his son through the entranced hairdresser, who regularly channels spirits including, on one occasion, Michael Jackson. “I was just sat in my lounge on my wife’s birthday and I just dropped into trance and he just started singing ‘Happy Birthday’.”

Then we met mother Janice and daughter Shellie McGurk whose house-clearing rituals at their haunted home were largely ineffectual. Shellie was apparently possessed during the filming by the man who had built the house, and later we saw her sitting on a bench chatting to a spirit who only she could see.

Whilst the participants doubtless agreed to be filmed with the best of intentions, and may well have believed their efforts would promote mediumship, the immediate reaction on Twitter and other social media was largely negative and critical. 

“I see gullible people,” said one viewer in a play on words with the famous line about dead people from The Sixth Sense. Others dismissed all psychics as “liars and cheats”.

Only one person taking part in the documentary – 20-year-old trainee medium Megan – seemed to be grounded and sensible as she hesitantly described the impressions she was getting during a successful reading.

    Megan, a fledgling medium who had the right approach
Megan, a fledgling medium who had the right approach

The Mail Online said many of theTweeters who had seen the programme were ruthless in their criticism and “even believers felt the mediums featured on the show didn’t represent the psychic world well”.

Numerous commentators on Psychic News’ Facebook page were just as critical.One was “appalled at the way mediums were portrayed”, several described it as “rubbish” and a recent convert to Spiritualism said: “If I had seen a medium such as those depicted first then I would have surely not returned.”

The Telegraph’s Neil Armstrong summed it up perfectly when he observed that while the documentary maintained “a veneer of neutrality on the question of whether psychic abilities are genuine, some sly editing and the deadpan narration of Maxine Peake suggests that the film-makers [were] not taking their subjects entirely seriously”.
The Editor


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