Heart Of The Matter (Astrology)

(Photos below). Broadcast on 19th Feb 1995.

'Heart Of The Matter' was a BBC documentary series, made by Roger Bolton productions, addressing various aspects of faith and belief. Most of the reports were hosted by TV veteran and legend Joan Bakewell.

The producers wanted a 'test conditions' demonstration of cold reading based on astrology.

The producers selected two women for the demonstration. All I was told that one was Virgo, the other Taurus. I wrote what sounded like a detailed astrological analysis for both women, as if it were based on their precise birth details. In fact, I was never given their birth details. The reading was identical both times, except I substituted 'Taurus' for 'Virgo' when I printed it the second time.

One afternoon, I went to a flat owned by someone on the production team. First, I was introduced to Bridget  (Virgo) and presented the reading to her, chatting about the details as we went. Then I went away while Joan Bakewell interviewed Bridget and got her responses. Then we repeated the whole thing with volunteer number two, Laura (Taurus). The two women were very different. One was middle-aged, South African and married while the other was young, English and dating.

The first said my reading was 99.9% accurate. The second said it was 95% accurate. Both of them were asked if they felt there was any chance I was a fake and they both said no.

The producers taped a separate segment on a different day at a different location. Joan Bakewell and parapsychologist Chris French met with the two woman and explained, tactfully and sensitively, that this had been an experiment in cold reading and that they had both received precisely the same reading. Neither of them was upset of angry and they didn't feel fooled or made fun of. I wasn't present.

There is a full transcript of the reading I gave, plus the reaction interviews, in 'The Full Facts Book of Cold Reading'.

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

You can always contact me: ian@ianrowland.com