1 November 2020

REVIEW: Derek Acorah's The Past Hunters - SE2 EP1 - Thackray Medical Museum - Never Aired On TV


At the start of this year (2020) after a brief battle with illness, Derek Acorah died.
I wrote a piece about Derek on that day, you can read that here.

But just when you thought Derek was out of your life, almost like a Phoenix rising from the flames, Derek is back from the afterlife and gracing your screens once more!

Many of you will remember that Derek did a show that aired on "YourTV", but unfortunately that Station was closed down by it's owners, and the second season of The Past Hunters was left on the scrap heap, never to be aired, never to be seen again.

But out of nowhere the "ghost hunting" group that appeared on the show with Derek have decided to air the show on their youtube. And since it is Halloween and there is no other similar ghost hunting show out there to watch, that features an entertaining fake psychic on it, I thought I would review this instead. After all whats the worse that can happen? Derek ain't gonna come after me..... Or is he? No he is not. He has had his chance to haunt me, and he has decided to leave me alone.

Anyway on to the blurbage of the show.

Derek Acorah's, The Past Hunters investigate Thackray Medical Museum, believed to one of Leeds most haunted buildings. Workers claim to have witnessed constant paranormal activity in the museum and one claim is that two Victorian ghosts are trapped inside of the location.

Now before you read my review, you can watch the whole episode on the embedded player below, or you can go to the youtube page itself to watch. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f-8ZQ1dwDNE


As the opening theme plays and the obligatory screams, and over acting from Derek is previewed, I just feel so at home.

And first thing you will notice is the half decent production value, so rare these days, and then there is Rebecca Palmer, also known as "The Nigella of Ghost Hunting".


She has everything you need in a good female host, the good looks, the hair flick, and the seductive looks to camera. 

Anyway they are in Thackray Medical Museum, a 19th century medical museum. Just about as spooky sounding as you can get. We get a nice little package covering the location, it's history, and the fact it is known as "Leeds most paranormally active location", a claim that you could literally give to any place in Leeds, mainly due to the fact that ghosts do not exist.

After the package finishes, we get a truly unique and excellent scene in what I assume is Derek's minivan. Yes really! I wonder if Gwen was driving?


We get our first full hair flick from Rebecca, or Bex as she likes to be called. A perfect drinking game for those watching, down a shot for every hair flick.

We learn how someone who works at the museum decided to contact The Past Hunters for help to find out what is going on. Of course this is a totally genuine call for help, and not an attempt to get some publicity for what does look like being an excellent museum. Derek does his best "I have never heard of this Museum", despite it being billed as Leeds most paranormally active place, and that was literally Derek's job to know about places like this! But let us be fair here, if Derek said "Oh yeah I know Thackray Museum, was there last week with Gwen", then that wouldn't be as much fun.

There is a third person in the car, I assume it is Sean Reynolds, if Wikipedia is to be trusted, for some reason only Bex had her name pop up on screen, and Derek truly needs no introduction.

I should also say that there is a good chance that I have in the past had run ins with either Bex or Sean, I say that not because I remember any run in, but because a lot of these ghost group types tend to mix around, and I have argued with so many of them other the years, made fun of them and so on, and they are such touchy people, that there is a good chance I have pissed off both of them, so if that is the case I will happily apologise right now, and I give you both a completely fresh and clean slate. I cant remember what you have done in the past, it was forever ago that I watched previous Past Hunter episodes, so I will give you the benefit of the doubt, and know that me making fun or having a joke, is purely done in a light hearted manner with no offence meant. And if you are offended, tough.

Right I reckon that will cover me for a bit.

After some more talking in the Fiat Scudo Panorama Diesel Estate, they arrived at the location.


Frustratingly we can't see who was driving? Was it Derek, or was it someone else. These are questions that need to be answered! Our first true unexplained mystery of the day.

Now I am never one to comment on people's trousers, for I have an unusual taste myself, and I like bright colours, however.....


These trousers are unacceptable!

I do however fully approve of Derek Acorah and his Rupert The Bear scarf. 

Oh God we are only five minutes in and I am already referencing Rupert the Bear.

The team get introduced to the museum by the man who called them in, and they are shown around. 

Derek talks about residual energies, and 4 different levels of activity. No idea what that means, but it sounds good.


We start the investigation and Sean appears with a creepy "haunted doll" that says "I'm watching you" when you press it, along with some motion detectors. 


He sets the doll up next to some museum mannequins, which are creepy as hell in their own right. 

We now cut to a "baby centre" and he has another doll, a less creepy one this time, and he puts a vibration sensor inside the doll, all of these dolls have static cameras filming them, which is a smart decision. Because if anything happens, I want to see it.

Bex and Sean lead Derek to a room and they have some items placed on a table, Derek is asked to do some "Psychomotrising" on them. Basically he is gonna handle them and say what he feels. He describes a fat old man, and describes his character. This is some classic Derek. He is a fun story teller. And I think everyone can enjoy Derek here, you can tell he is enjoying himself, and regardless of your beliefs it is fun to watch. Derek comes up with the name ALFRED, and we get a note on screen confirming that an Alfred has been connected to the Thackray Museum.

I would suggest that the name Alfred would have been incredibly common in the 19th century, so that on it's own is not so impressive.

Derek is now talking to Alfred while holding his bag, I always love the way that Derek reacts to the ghosties, almost like a grandparent would when on the phone to someone and his hearing is starting to go. Here is a question for you all, has there ever been a famous deaf medium? I know there has been blind ones, but a deaf one? Answers on a postcard please.

We now have a ghost called Christina who has appeared, a screen overlay confirms that a Christina has been confirmed to have been an old inmates housekeeper in the early 1800s.

Derek on a roll here!


Bex does a good job here of questioning Derek, asking him what he is experiencing, what he sees and so on. 

Derek starts to play with one of the contraptions.
"I feel like I have got white powder, it's not drugs, but it is a drug, but it's not drugs"
Glad that has been cleared up.

We get another overlay on screen, confirming that the contraption has been confirmed to have been used to make tablets. Wow! Derek is right again. How does he do it! It is almost as if he has visited a medical museum before.

The items used for "psychometrising" are now moved to another table, and they are going to conduct a seance.


Sean want's to ask questions to the ghosties, but Derek stops him, and says that the ghosts react better to a woman's voice, and asks Bex to speak out to them. Derek is very smart here, he knows that Bex makes better TV. 

Poor Sean.

I suspect Derek might be building up to something here. We can only hope.

A ghost is now stroking Derek's cheek, Christina is stroking Derek's cheek. (His facial cheek you filthy perverts!)

Nothing else happens so they move on to a recreation of a Victorian Street, apparently it stinks, so I wonder if Most Haunted had filmed there previously?


They hear a noise and we get this awesome reaction from Bex!


Bex is the Queen of the reaction shot. I feel a bit sorry for Sean here, as Bex moves right in front of him and blocks his shot to camera.

Poor Sean.


A few more noises and Bex gets a bit scared so quickly grabs the most manly and safe person in the room..... Derek.

Poor Sean, this is not fair. He is her Husband (Maybe fiance). It's those pink trousers. He needs to wear more manly trousers.


They keep investigating, they hear a breathy noise, and some cold breezes. The usual stuff.

"My name is Isaac", A ghost tells Derek, another overlay on screen confirms that the name has been connected on other paranormal investigations. Now that is interesting, maybe Derek's research was not just relegated to the Thackray website, but also other groups who have investigated there.


More hair flicking from Bex, if you are not drunk by now then you have not been paying attention to the drinking game.

And finally we get a bit of old school Derek now as he goes into one of his legendary possessions! COME ON!


Derek is fully in character now, even growling. 

As Isaac he says to Bex "You deserve to be on your back, that's all you're good for".

Sean is trying his best not to laugh here.

Look, if you are not watching, or don't want to watch and are just reading this review, please just watch this bit as it is brilliant, starts about 27 minutes in. 

"Wenchy Wenchy, Witchy Bitchy".

Derek as Isaac is trying to get Bex to have sex with him. I have not laughed this much in a while.

Derek at his best here. 

Poor Sean.

"Your delicious eyes and hair, so be quiet"

Also worth watching Sean as he keeps trying to get on camera.

And before you know it Derek is back. Possibly the best 5 minutes of Paranormal Investigation TV I have seen in over a decade. Just brilliant.


Sean is now filming the camera crew with a thermo cam, however it just looks like his Smartphone that he is holding, so not sure if it just an App, or a real thermo cam here.

He also detects movement, however he is filming through a window, so is it just picking up their reflection. They get quite excited at what they are filming in a room. Personally I cant quite see what they are getting excited about. 

Derek decides to put Bex in a room on her own for a lone "vidgual". She seems a bit scared by the suggestion, but she agrees. 

Bex is alone in "The Pig Room" with a K2 Meter and a Crystal. She is actually filming the room and not up her own nostrils, which is a pleasant surprise.

Just a quick note on the use of night vision. They are using real night vision as opposed to a filter as far as I can see, however it is not really that dark, but they never once claim that it is pitch black or anything, so I wont moan too much.


Unfortunately Bex has bowed to the pressure and decided to film up her own nose.
Blair Witch Project has so much to answer for.


The Queen of the Reaction shot does it again, her K2 meter flickers slightly.

You have to give it to Bex, she is very entertaining. And I think a lot of it is natural as well, you just cant fake these reaction shots.

Derek has come up with another name, Sadie, and yes the overlay confirms that she has also been connected to the location, but only by other paranormal investigators.


Sean hears a noise and grabs Derek for protection, Derek doesn't flinch, what a professional. No ghost is gonna scare Derek.

Poor Sean.

Bex gets scared, screams and calls for help. To be fair it seems like a real reaction, a bit of hysteria that you can easily create for yourself when in the dark, especially when you are supposed to be in a haunted place. Hilariously she comes back to the group and the first person she hugs is Derek. 

Poor Sean.


And with that the investigation is over, and they are now sat in an office discussing the events of the investigation.


Looking back at the episode I want to point out that nothing was thrown. There were no obviously faked events, noises, things being moved and so on. The investigation as a whole was a fair and honest investigation. Now obviously things like the K2 Meter are evidentially worthless. I am a bit suspicious about the Thermocam which looks like an App you buy from the App store. But we have to be realistic, sometimes you need a few gimmicks to make things interesting, and although Bex reacted to the K2 meter going off, and Sean claimed to be seeing something moving on the thermocam, this was not necessarily them trying to con the viewer, instead it was them reacting to the equipment they were using. So you can blame the equipment here. I did not think at any point that they were trying to con the viewer or make claims that were too over the top etc. 

Remember a 100% legit investigation, with 100% scientific legitimacy, would be the most boring thing ever.

Now I did just say nothing was deliberately faked, yet we had Derek being possessed by Isaac and trying to have sex with Bex. Was Derek really possessed by a ghostie here, of course he wasn't, but what do you want him to do here? Derek is a performer, he is famous for getting possessed. Think of it like employing Carol Vorderman to be on your show, and she wears loose fitting clothes, and refuses to do any maths, everyone would be pissed off.

There is no point for me to slate Derek now, to prove him a fraud, to go on a deep dive of his claims, and so on. Believers of his will always believe, and skeptics of his will not. Instead think of Derek Acorah as a character createdby and played by Derek Johnson, a psychic medium who gets possessed by the dead, are you entertained by his act? If yes then enjoy him. If not, then do not watch.

Summary:
The Good
Well produced episode, Derek was at his best, and I genuinely laughed out loud at his possession, it was classic Derek. Bex is great, her reaction shots are almost perfect, she is like-able, and does her job really well.

The Bad
Pink jeans. Sean trying his best to get on camera, and grabbing Derek when he heard a noise. Sean needs to man up!

Overall
I thoroughly enjoyed the episode. Often when reviewing these types of shows, I find myself bored shitless, I end up rambling on just to fill an article, this episode I actually enjoyed, and would have happily watched even if I didn't write the review. It is only 45 minutes long. And if that is too much for you, just watch 5 minutes from27 minutes onwards, you wont be disappointed.

8/10

Review by Jon Donnis



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31 October 2020

Interview with James Randi from 2009

Interview conducted by BadPsychics member Phil Jenkins in 2009.

Following the sad passing of the Amazing Randi I thought I'd republish this interview that we conducted in 2009......

Background.

The Blackpool Magic Convention is world's biggest annual convention of its type; regularly attracting over 3500 magicians from around the globe. For three days attendees are treated to performances and lectures from some of the worlds leading conjurors including Jeff McBride, Rudy Coby, Wayne Dobson and James Randi.

I was lucky enough to catch up with James Randi in the main concourse of the Winter Gardens and he kindly answered a couple of questions.

Question = Q
James Randi = JR

Q. Have you heard of the Badpsychics website?

JR. Yes.

Q. Do you think that it's a worthwhile venture or do you think we're fighting a battle we can't win?

JR. Unfortunately, I can't answer that. For me to give a specific answer I'd have to do some research into the website; in order to see how successful it had been in the past at achieving its goals. Having said that, anything that helps to educate people can't be a bad thing.

Q. Last year Uri Geller was presented with a 'Services to Magic' award what do you make of that? (This was a question that I heard several times over the weekend)

JR. Geller would accept an award for being the 'best dog in show' if it meant publicity. What you must remember is that it was presented to him by David Berglas (former President of the Magic Circle) who's a friend of his. What I can't understand is why David has started to take his side; after all David Berglas was the first person in the UK to expose Geller for what he is… a fake. I've not seen David for sometime but I certainly intend to put him on the spot when I do.

It's also interesting to note that Geller is starting to change his stance. He no longer wants to be called a Psychic instead he prefers the term Mystifier. Personally, I think he's created a monster that he can longer control. Over the years various governments, companies, etc have spent millions of dollars researching his claims. Just imagine what these organisations would do to Geller if he was to ever admit that he doesn't have any special powers; that he'd lied to them. I can see the lawyers queuing up now. A similar thing happened to the Fox sisters (spirit rapping) and Elsie Wright & Frances Griffiths (Cottingley Fairies) once the monster was out of it's cage they couldn't stop it.

Q. Do you believe in God?

JR. In my view atheists fall in to two categories; those who do not believe full stop and those who are willing to believe should they be presented with sufficient evidence. I would say that I fall into the second category. As it is I don't see any evidence for an afterlife.

Q. Do you think that there are any special powers be they magic, psychic or esp, that might be proven over the next 15 years and are there any mysteries you can't explain??

JR. Yes, there's one… Sophia Loren! How the hell she can look so good at her age is a mystery to me (laughs). To answer the first part of your question… no. I don't believe that anything like that will ever be proven.

Q. What do you make of faith healers?

JR. These are some of the worst kind of Woo merchants. Over the years I've had lots of visits from people asking for help after one of their relatives got involved with one of these individuals. The stories are very sad "Mother has given all her money to a faith healer, she's penniless" etc. I'll offer advice where I can but often they don't have a legal leg to stand on. Not only that but many people won't go to court because it would mean admitting they've be duped.

One of the worst healers I came across was Peter Popoff who was making approximately $4 million dollars a year 'curing' people. I took Steven Shaw (better known as the mentalist Banachek) and a camera team from the BBC to investigate one of his meetings; what we found was absolutely disgraceful. Steven managed to get close to Popoff and quickly reported back that he (Popoff) was using an ear piece. We quickly set up a scanner and started to monitor the venue, within seconds we started to pick up transmissions that were being sent to Popoff by his wife. She was giving him the details of various people in the audience; what their name was, where they were sitting, what was wrong with them, etc all of which Popoff would repeat out loud to the amazed audience. Some of what was broadcast was sickening racist comments that I won't repeat here. Another thing which emerged was the use of wheelchairs as a gimmick. People would be wheeled onto the stage and subsequently cured; rising from the wheelchair and walking away. Only problem with this was that these people didn't need a wheelchair; they were just put in one in order to get them onto the stage. Then Popoff worked his magic on them and to the audience it looked like he'd cured them. The final thing we found was possibly the worst of all. In order to gain access to the venue you had to be vetted by Popoff's security team who were under strict instructions not to allow any seriously ill people in to the building. We filmed a mother with her 8 year old son who was seriously ill being refused entry; she was absolutely desperate and had been following Popoff around in the hope of meeting him but was always denied access. Finally, out of shear desperation she pushed past the security guards and managed to confront Popoff. She pleaded with him to help her child. Placing his hand on the child he said "God cure this child, I know you're busy so if you can't do it right now can you do it some time in the future. Whether it's in half an hour, a week or years from now cure this child'. What a cop out! The woman was then hustled away and thrown outside. We had the whole episode captured on film and were prepared to expose Popoff but then his lawyers contacted the BBC and threatened to sue them if they showed the footage. This would hold up the film for years and would be extremely costly; the BBC backed off and the film was never shown. Fortunately, I was able to arrange for some footage to be shown on the Tonight Show and this time we were able to include the prompting from his wife. In 1987 Peter Popoff filed for bankruptcy.

Q. Have you ever been threatened?

JR. Yes, lots of times usually by telephone or email. I just pass the information on to the FBI. Sometimes I'll get a call back saying the 'problem' has been dealt with.

Q. Can you tell us about the TV series you had in the UK in the 80's?

JR. The programme was called James Randi - Psychic Investigator which I believe was wrong. I am not a psychic investigator I am an investigator of psychics; but it was their programme so I had to go along with it.

I'm amazed we had so many people apply for the programme considering what it was we were setting out to achieve, i.e., to expose fraudulent mediums etc. Some of the candidates did get quite volatile when things didn't go their way.

I remember we had a Psychic Medium called Maureen Flynn appear on the show. She did a sitting for one of her clients; it was typical cold reading. Afterwards we interviewed the client to see how accurate she had been and he said how good she was. One of the questions we asked him was 'how many names did she bring up'. The gentleman was adamant that she had only brought up about 6 names and that most were a hit. We then showed him a transcript of the sitting and pointed out that 37 names had in fact been mentioned. He still wouldn't listen; which just goes to show how difficult it is to change the views of a believer.

Q. How do I enter the Million Dollar Challenge?

JR. It's quite simple. You fill out the form on the JREF website and send it in. Basically, you have to tell us what you can do and with what accuracy. If you are accepted to take the challenge you must first take a preliminary test and if you score high enough on that you are then invited to take the main challenge for the million dollars. To date no one has gotten past the first test.

Also, I should like to mention that there have been many claims by psychic, mediums, etc that the million dollars doesn't exist. Well, I can assure you that it does and anyone can apply for proof just by asking. The fact of the matter is that none of the psychics, etc who are making this claim have ever asked to see the proof.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I would like to take this opportunity to thank James Randi for his time.

Interview conducted by BadPsychics member Phil Jenkins in 2009.

22 October 2020

RIP James Randi


The Randi Foundation have revealed that James Randi has died, aged 92.

Truly one of the greatest voices in skepticism in history, he will be truly missed.

An inspiration to me personally, and a hero, I only spoke with him a few times, and he once listed us a "recommended reading" on his website, he helped us massively, and allowed us to grow, he didn't need to do that, but he appreciated the work we were doing and wanted to help us. For that I will be forever grateful.

Thank you to James Randi for everything you did in your life. Rest in Peace.




19 September 2020

The Jon Donnis Show - Psychics Help or Hinder?



An short original Documentary made for www.badpsychics.com, part of "The Jon Donnis Show" Network

21 August 2020

Why can't Psychics gets The Lotto Numbers? - A Commentary by Rob Lester



Blame karma or blame the intentions of the psychic and the ever-shifting energies of the universe, but never get close to admitting that you might just not be psychic or your skills might be extremely poor.  And even if psychics were real, most aren't doing a good job and maybe the best they can do is normal intuitive stuff, not really displays of extrasensory skills. 

And if you were good and selfless, why wouldn't the universe want to make you better off so you can help others? 

Karma or fate or whatever on this, it's nonsense.  You just don't have the ability, and the new age movement needs excuses for believers and frauds to say why they aren't building new-age philosophy schools based on lotto wins.