Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Derren 'n' Joe

Last night's opening documentary as part of Derren Brown's new series, Derren Brown Investigates featured 'psychic medium' Joe Power, described as 'The Man Who Sees Dead People' (which just so happens to also be the title of Joe's book). One of Joe's claims includes contacting the spirit of John Lennon.

The premise of the programme was that Derren would spend five days with Joe to discover if he really does see dead people, or whether his abilities might be better explained in some other way.

None too surprisingly, Derren suspected that the latter was more likely: A combination of cold reading, warm reading, and a little bit of hot reading thrown in for good measure. Of course, Joe protested, and even accused Derren of... well, I'm not sure what he was accusing him of.

From the moment Derren entered Joe's rather humble looking flat and described it as 'gorgeous', you knew they weren't going to get on. And I suspect that Derren had already made up his mind as to Joe's authenticity. In the end, Joe came across as either deluded in his belief he could contact the dead or an outright fraud. Or a combination of the two.

The most (only?) impressive reading came when Joe seemed to give fairly accurate information to a woman as part of a one-to-one reading in her own house. Even DB seemed intrigued. It only emerged some weeks after filming that she was actually the next door neighbour of Joe's sister! What are the odds...

Update: The programme is now available at 4OD here. Oh, and we have a new Prime Minister.


  1. the odds - well the visit WAS arranged vis his agent. And the 'man who sees dead people' when challenged to a test under controlled conditions said that would be unfair because his modus operandi was clairaudience. And why did he always ask to use the toilet first thing in someone's home - does he have a bladder weakness or does he snoop a little?

  2. I want to know what on earth Joe did to his nose.

    Hopefully the programme helped to arm people who use mediums against some of the ways in which information can be obtained by normal means but I suspect they will do a Joe and try to claim that Derren was pulling a stunt of some kind (I loved the bit about the mini, the spluttering righteous indignation on Joe's part when Derren raised it gently).

    My feeling was that Joe didn't justify the length and it felt padded out, for example the continual recaps after breaks. There was nothing here we haven't seen before, though I was impressed when Derren tried it himself.

    As to the reason for Joe's refusal to take part in the tests, I didn't get why a clairaudient needed to see the sitter. Yes, I was suspicious about the toilet visits too, Froglet.

    In the end, I couldn't figure out why Power did it. He surely doesn't need the publicity and it was a high-risk strategy. As to whether he is a fraud or merely deluded, the cold reading element must be done in the knowledge that you aren't talking to the departed, but the act of going on the show implied that he was sincere and thought he could prove that what he did was real, which sugguests delusion. Either that or breathtaking arrogance.

  3. I thought the documentary went a bit too easy on Joe Power. There was no mention of the fact that he is a convicted criminal who has served time in prison for theft and fraud.

  4. Oh really? Interesting, perhaps that explains the nose. I thought it looked as if it had been slit. Ouch. The other thinkg I noticed is that he has a slow blink rate.

  5. implied that he was sincere I don't think so.
    If you have got away with hookwinking people for however long you gain in arrogance.
    Publicity is a craving with some people and it brings in the bucks.

  6. Been away so not seen this yet but taped it.Cant wait to watch it.