If I'm being honest, I had pretty low expectations regarding Midlands' Best Medium. I'm not saying that I had any reason to believe that the mediums from this part of England were likely to be a load of rubbish, it's just that I imagined the kind of folks that might enter such a competition may not have been the best judge of their own ability. (So, yes I suppose I'm saying I did think they might be rubbish.) So I was pleasantly surprised when, having negotiated the turmoil that is Derby's inner ring road, the nine individuals who had made it through the auditions seemed to be fairly balanced people with some hold on reality!
The contestants' first task was psychometry. This usually involves giving someone a reading based upon holding a personal item of theirs, like a ring. The idea is that the object supposedly 'absorbs' the energies of the wearer, and it is from these energies that a psychic or medium is able to pick up characteristics of the owner. At least I think that's the theory. On this occasion, the task was made even harder as each contestant was asked to give a reading on a 'mystery object'. This was an ancient bracelet retrieved from an archaeological dig, and thought to be around 3000 years old! A difficult test to say the least, even if there is something to psychometry. All nine contestants gave it a try, and came up with some interesting 'facts' about the object much of which was unverifiable. None really came close to identifying how old it was.
Round two returned to more familiar territory for the mediums. Each contestant was required to give readings to members of the audience much like you would typically see when mediums give stage performances (or when giving platform readings at a Spiritualist church). The main difference was that the people for whom the readings were intended would be chosen at random (by throwing a soft toy into the audience if you must know). Contestants would have only about 5 minutes to give a reading. This round was a mixed bag of general vague readings that could perhaps apply to most people but there were one or two good hits in which a couple of contestants seemed to give accurate information including names and so on.
After each contestant did their bit, the panel of judges, which consisted of Richard Felix, Ian Lawman (both also former Most Haunted contributors) and myself, would give our comments. (That's right, it was the paranormal world's answer to Britain's Got No Talent!) But then it was up to the audience to vote for who would go through to the final round.
The three finalists were set the task of having to each give me a reading with the audience watching... I'm not sure who found this the more uncomfortable, them or me! Again a mixture of relatively vague statements that I imagine would be true of most people with a sprinkling of hits. But we were able to eventually choose one medium as the overall winner (as in they won the title of Midlands' Best Medium, not that they won a set of overalls...).
I believe future regional competitions around the country are being planned as we speak.