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An Evening with Derek Acorah

If Rachel Winterbottom was a ghost, she wouldn't bother turning up either

Written by . Published on March 12th 2009.

An Evening with Derek Acorah

He’s the Scouser medium best known for his five year stint on Most Haunted alongside professional shreiker Yvette Fielding, before he was let go amid allegations of fakery (presumably he was possessed by one Liverpudlian ghost too many). Now he’s touring the country and providing a platform for all your deceased relatives to finally get that unfinished business off their insubstantial chests.

As far as your average cynic goes, I’m hopeful. So I felt disappointed when I saw the sign on stage as we entered the theatre at the Opera House: ‘To the believer no proof is necessary. To the non believer no proof is possible.’ Which to me is a rather dandy way of saying we were about to see nothing conclusive. This was further backed by the slide show of Derek kissing dolphins (I kid you not), which concluded with the explanation that the following show was for entertainment purposes only.

This was obviously something that Derek had taken onboard when he came out on stage to the lights and music of an 1980s disco. Not one to mince words, he immediately proclaimed, “There is no death!” And then launched into a sermon on the not-quite departed, who apparently are not only still with us, they’ve been inviting themselves round for tea and biscuits on a regular basis.

My favourite part of Most Haunted was always the inevitable bit where he became possessed by a ‘malevolent’ spirit. The mild-mannered man was abruptly traded over for a maniac with violent, spittle-punctuated outbursts of ‘Whore!’ and ‘Devil woman!’ usually aimed at an increasingly perturbed Yvette Fielding.

Tonight, however, the house lights went up and Derek was quick to reassure us of nothing terrifying happening. “Don’t worry,” said Derek, after conversing with the air for some time, “I’m not schizophrenic; I’m just speaking to my spirit guide, Sam.” The camera on stage then turned towards the audience so we could see our reactions on the big screen behind Derek as he introduced the first of our ‘guests’ this evening, a little old man who had a nice message for someone in the audience. There would be no “Mary loves Dick! Mary loves Dick!” tonight.

Almost immediately Derek bagged a winner. She was an elderly woman who stared owlishly out of the big screen at the audience, clutching the microphone she’d been handed like it was her only lifeline. Tears were already forming in her eyes. The audience shifted uncomfortably at this but then Derek got the name of her loved one right, and then as each detail he came out with received a nod, a teary smile or a gasp, it was like watching a sportsman performing a hat trick.

Part of me was horrified that he was potentially manipulating this sweet old thing into a public breakdown, while the other part was thinking that surely the rest of the night could only get better.

Unfortunately, that old lady crying was the highlight. From then on, Derek was on a losing streak – he knew it and his audience knew it. He’d pull up ghosts and no one would ‘claim’ them. Although instead of admitting he was incorrect, he actually blamed the audience, becoming increasingly narky and repeating variations of “I can’t change what the ghosts tell me” throughout the evening whenever his information was wrong. A bad workman blames his tools, Derek.

Because of this, each audience member who had just nervously claimed a ghost could easily have been agreeing with him because if they didn’t, Derek would flounce off, announcing that the ghost was obviously meant for someone else. I don’t know what was more embarrassing, the increasingly long silences from his audience between spirits or the part of the evening when an overheated light bulb exploded above his head and Derek shouted ‘Oh God!’ into his microphone.

Amidst the temper tantrums, Derek painted a ghoulish picture of ghosts as spectral stalkers, always on the fringes of our lives, with only the power to move the odd teacup and predict dental appointments (really).

As light-hearted as this was, you couldn't ignore the sheer desperation in the eyes of some of the people represented up there on the big screen, or those like the man sat on his own next to me, playing with his wedding ring.

An Evening with Derek Acorah is entertaining, perhaps, if you are a believer and don’t require any further proof of the existence of ghosts. But if you aren’t then it’s basically two and a half hours of one man introducing a series of confused, bored or emotionally fragile people to his imaginary friends.

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Big O Knows BestMarch 12th 2009.

This man is a proper top knobhead. Fact

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