Gordon Burns remembers a programme he made about Uri Geller and his powers

One Reports Extra I did was with Uri Geller who had astonished the nation with his spoon-bending, and I wanted to see if he really could bend spoons, and whether he really had telepathy, because he claimed if you thought of a picture, he could probably draw it. So I invited him along and had lunch with him in the old Film Exchange up the road, a very popular haunt for Granada people, now sadly gone – it had barrels hanging from chains on the wall, and was quite dark, a very pleasant experience, a nice little restaurant bit at the back – so I took him for lunch so we got to know each other, and we actually got on really well. And I was asking him if he could really bend spoons and things, and he did the usual: : “It doesn’t always work, but I’ll try…” and blah, blah… and we asked him to try a couple while we were having lunch, but nothing happened when he did try. And then, when we were distracted by something else, he suddenly shouted, “Look, look!” and we looked, and the spoon was bent, but we didn’t actually see it happen.

But then he came on the programme when we got him to try and do all these things, so the first thing he did was to try and do a picture, so he asked somebody to think of something in their head, and then to draw it and keep it out of his sight, then he would say, “Think about it, think about it… I’m trying to get a picture… I’m not getting anything, I’m not getting anything, try harder… I think I’m getting something, it may not be right…” and he always did that bit, “It may not be right,” and then he drew a house, I think. And the other person had drawn a square with a squiggle, so he claimed there were real similarities between the two, but I’m told by psychologists that basically you tend to draw a house, a sailing boat or something else when you have to draw something quickly – so it was inconclusive.

And then I got him to try and bend spoons, and he didn’t actually bend one on the programme, because we had cameras tight on him, I was sitting there, leaning over and watching him, and he fiddled around with them, rubbing them and so on, but he didn’t actually bend on the programme, although at the end he suddenly showed us two that were bent, but nobody ever saw them bend, and they certainly didn’t bend live on the programme. But he also said to people at home, “In your houses now, knives with be bending in your cutlery drawers, clocks will be stopping,” etc. etc. And blow me, didn’t we get hundreds and hundreds of phone calls and letters saying, “It’s unbelievable! I went to the cutlery drawer and my fork had bent – it’s unbelievable!” “My clock stopped at exactly that moment!”

And it sort of got to be that this hysteria sets in, because if this was all true it would be totally astonishing – and if his mere presence made metal bend, would you every fly in an aeroplane with him, next to the engine? So I did a programme the next week where I brought in a guy who said he too had paranormal powers, but in fact he was a professor and the biggest sceptic ever about the paranormal, and he did a whole piece on making spoons bend and clocks stop in your homes now, I’m doing it now, and we got phenomenal amounts. “It’s amazing, the clocks stopped, the spoons bent, everything happened…” Well, clearly it couldn’t have, he had no powers whatsoever.

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