Banbridge man, mentalist and now television personality, David Meade will return to the small screen later this month with his brand new show ‘David Meade: Crowd Control’.
In the one-hour special, which airs on BBC1NI on Wednesday, January 15, at 10.35pm, David investigates the science behind something the majority of us have been influenced by at some stage in our lives - crowd control.
To test his legendary powers of crowd manipulation, David takes to the stage in front of 8,000 people at last year’s BBC Proms in The Park Northern Ireland. Can he really influence so many people?
During the programme, David will still aim to wow viewers with his trademark experiments, but this time, he seeks the insights of leading experts and academics into the techniques which make us behave a certain way in crowds. Viewers get insider knowledge on how big business and big events can control our movement and habits.
“This is unlike anything I’ve ever done before and I’ll be honest with you, I was very worried it wouldn’t work. I’m used to messing with people’s minds as a mentalist, but for the first time ever I tried to control a crowd of people without using any of my tricks or techniques. The results are a bit shocking!
“I didn’t just throw myself into the deep end though - I met with experts and academics from the world of crowd control beforehand and discovered all sorts of useful manipulation techniques and secrets - which I reveal in the show - so you can try them on your friends!”
David says that he is not a psychic, a medium and that he definitely doesn’t speak to the ‘other side’. But it was a fascination with the spiritual realm which set this academic on a road that has led him to stun audiences across the world with his ‘mind reading’ skills.
“My dad died when I was 14 and it was really sudden for me,” explained David, who is also a lecturer at the University of Ulster. “I decided in my silly wisdom that I would go to a psychic. I travelled quite a long way and it was absolutely amazing how accurate she was. I was in no doubt that she was in connection with my dad.
“I went to her for nearly 18 months. Every reading got a little bit more expensive and the last reading was nearly £100. I didn’t have the money and felt she was just saying the same thing and that it had run its course. It was like a type of counselling for me and it helped me to talk things through.
“I went the last time when I was 16 and I said that I didn’t really have the money and wouldn’t be coming back. She told me to come up with two goals for the reading, to keep them secret and then I would know if it was all true of not.
“She left the room and I wrote down a couple of things. I asked, ‘Who got the watch?’ and ‘What piece of furniture was broken after the funeral?’ I thought if she got it right it would be amazing.
“Suddenly I was overcome with scepticism and I flicked through the notepad she had given me and there was carbon paper a few sheets down that had taken a copy of what I had written.
“I was devastated. I was three buses from home, no-one knew where I was and I was terrified. I didn’t say anything but I wrote down two names - Catherine and Sofie. The names mean absolutely nothing to me and I chose them because there is no-one in the world connected to me with either of those names. She started into the reading and said the names.
“I suddenly realised I had to get out. I came away feeling really heartbroken but when I had time to reflect on it, I decided it was still a good experience.”
And it was that first experience that captured David’s imagination.
He adds that he has been going to psychics ever since but now he “watches to see how they do what they do” and he uses the same skills in his live show.
“I started to go to more of them. I go to two or three a month. I go to see how they are doing what they are doing and employ the same techniques. I use exactly the same skill set. I have seen nearly 100 and I keep track of them,” he continued.
“There is the conscious deceiver who is trying to make you believe they are talking to the dead when they know they are not. They are praying on the emotions of vulnerable people and their financial stability.
“There is a second category - the ‘shut eye’. They don’t know that they are not psychic.
“They genuinely believe they have a genuine gift but in actual fact they are just good guessers. You can always tell those who are ‘shut eyes’ because they take almost no money or any at all.
“I use similar techniques but because I am being honest about my dishonesty, I can be more accurate.”