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Esther Rantzen Show (Prediction Trick)


(Photos below). I can't be sure when I did this but I would guess some time around 1995.

This was for the 'Esther' TV show on BBC Television. It was a studio audience chat and discussion show, mostly about consumer issues and current affairs, hosted by UK broadcasting legend Esther Rantzen. They were doing a show about psychics and asked if I could do something that would look intriguing.

1. Before the studio audience arrived, I sat down with Esther. I had a marker, a pad and an envelope. I wrote something on the pad but the camera couldn't see what I was writing. I slipped the pad in the envelope and sealed it with tape.

2. I handed the sealed package over to Esther. She signed it and marked the time.

3. The studio audience came in and the show proceeded as normal.

4. Esther invited another guest on the show, parapsychologist Susan Blackmore (not pictured here), to choose a member of the audience at random. This truly was a free, random choice and I had no say in the person Susan selected. She chose a woman in the audience with brown, curly hair called Sam.

5. I was in the middle of the studio, about 6 metres away from Sam. I invited Sam to think of anyone in her life and to focus on that person's initials. Esther stood next to Sam, still holding the sealed package bearing her signature.

6. Sam thought of someone she knew and announced that this person's initials were 'T H'.

7. Esther handed the sealed package over to Sam. Sam opened it and took out the pad inside. It bore the initials 'T H'.

8. At a later point in the show, I admitted that I am not, in fact, psychic and that what they had seen was a mentalism trick. I didn't explain how it was done.

For anyone trying to work it out, these facts are true:

  • I did write my prediction before the show.

  • Once I handed over the sealed package to Esther, I never touched it again. I didn't need to.

  • Susan Blackmore had a totally free, fair choice of spectator and I had no influence or control over whom she chose. I had no idea she would choose Sam.

  • I had, and still have, absolutely no idea who Sam was. She was just someone in the studio audience. I don't know her, had never seen her before we did this item and have never seen her since.

  • Esther did not tamper with or interfere with my prediction at all.

  • Sam could have thought of anyone she wanted. I didn't make her think of anyone in particular and in fact I had no idea who this 'TH' person was.

  • Esther knew a bit about how the trick was done, but not all the details.

  • Sam had no idea how it was done.

If you want to know how to do things like this, study the branch of magic called 'mentalism'. Read some good books on the subject, watch some DVDs, join a magic club, learn from me and other people who have been doing it for a while, and in about five or ten years you'll be able to do this sort of thing and much more.

I do have the video for this somewhere, probably on VH. However, I'd need signficant tech help to transfer it and present it online and it might be tricky for copyright reasons.

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