Radio

Early in 1954 commentator Brian Johnston wanted to present four radio programmes about the paranormal. He remembered the Picture Post stunt and called David in for an interview at the BBC in Portland Place. There were about six people in the room when David arrived and much discussion took place about paranormal phenomena. Johnston picked up a notepad, wrote something on it and then placed it writing side down on the table. "If you're so clever," he said, "what did I write?" It was an awkward moment and David explained that lie didn't work like that. He needed time to warm up. So they talked for another half hour during which David baffled them with some other magic and mind reading. After he left he stood behind the door and overheard them discussing what they had seen. They were clearly impressed. After a few moments. David opened the door, leaned in and told Brian what he had w ritten on the notepad. They were utterly amazed.

However, because Brian Johnston was sent abroad the proposed programme did not go ahead. Another opportunity at the BBC arose when the Piddingtons, who were to appear on the radio series The Forces Show, suddenly left the country. One of the people who had been at David's earlier interview, recalled the young mindreader's performance and an audition was arranged. The producer. Bill VVorsley, asked David whether he had enough material for a regular slot in seven programmes. He said yes. although in truth he had no idea what he would do, radio was very different from working Variety.

A dart board routine, presented on BBC Radio.

What he did do was a series of nationwide interactive psychological experiments. For instance, listeners were asked to gather together several objects and lay them out on a table. On his command they were told to choose one and then send in a postcard revealing their choice. David's task was to predict which item would be chosen and the percentage of people that had selected it. Each week the results would be tallied and David's prediction read out. I le was always correct. The public's response to the experiments was terrific and huge quantities of postcards were sent to the BBC who in turn counted them as fan mail, raising David's profile even higher. He became known as Radio's Man of Magic.

Fie worked regularly on radio and developed presentations that made full use of the fact that this was a medium of sound. Take for example the routines that he used in the 1959 series of The Holiday Show. When a coin penetrated a bottle it could be heard rattling around inside. Darts thrown at a board hit it with a thud. A ring transposing between two studios would suddenly stop rattling inside one box and be heard reappearing in another. If a second studio or outside broadcast unit were used he would make sure that the two locations sounded different so that the listeners could distinguish them. Gradually he was building a repertoire of methods and presentations that exploited the medium of radio to his advantage and helped him achieve effects of miraculous proportions.

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