Television

Because of his appearance on radio David quickly became a household name. Television cemented his reputation as one of England's leading wonder workers. His first appearance was on The Charlie Chester Show in 1953. Intent on distinguishing himself from other performers he had a short-sleeved sports shirt especially tailored for the occasion by Mervvn Conn, now a top impressario, and wore it while performing his cigarette manipulations. This was a bold move given the formal attire usually worn on BBC television. Everyone dressed as if they were about to go to dinner. Some people, including his family, were horrified that he wouldn't be dressed formally for the occasion but the image of a magician working without sleeves or pockets played well in the press.

The cigarette routine had long been a favourite of David's. Numerous cigarettes were produced all without the benefit of steals. It became a talking point among magicians and Henk Vermeyden later took it upon himself to publish an explanation in a Dutch magazine. The explanation was totally incorrect. Not surprising since he hadn't even asked David for permission to write it up, never mind asked him how it was done.

As Variety theatres closed, television became an increasingly important source of bookings but it was viewed with some suspicion by magicians. The roving camera was an unpredictable presence on stage and performers worked in fear of exposure. David, perhaps with the experience of radio behind him, was convinced that magic on television could be incredibly strong and was keen on moving into that medium. The opportunity came when producer Ronnie Waldman, Head of Light Entertainment at the BBC, gave a talk at 1'he Magic Circle. David met him and was delighted to find that Waldman knew who he was.

Taking advantage of their meeting he phoned Waldman's office the next day and spoke to his secretary'. He told her that he had arranged to meet "Ronnie" but now had to cancel. However, he could make a later date, perhaps next Wednesday afternoon. Waldman was out of the office, which was fortunate because the secretary believed David's story and rescheduled the fictitious meeting for another day.

At that meeting David pitched his idea for a special in which a group of celebrities were to be entertained in a relaxed dinner party setting. The idea was so intriguing that Waldman cancelled his lunch appointment to hear more. Meet David Berglas, a programme of magic and mystery, produced by Ronnie Waldman and directed by Ernest Maxin, was the result.

It was notable for a prediction effect that went further than anything else that had been seen on television. At various points during the live show David would pick up a clipboard, write something on it and ask his guests to make a note of the time. He didn't explain what he was writing or why he needed to know the time and it became something of a running gag. With the audience intrigued, and the show drawing to a close, he finally explained that he had been noting down some flashes of inspiration, ideas that came to him during the programme. Then he drew his guests' attention to a bank of phones on the set, each of which was connected to a different news agency. One of the guests chose a phone and called the news editor at Reuters.

David read from his clipboard and asked the guest to enquire what happened at 9.03. "Nothing," said the news editor, but added that at 9.04 there was a bus crash in Luton. David turned the board to the camera. Next to "9.03" he had noted, "Bus crash at Luton." Several different predictions were checked, each made a minute or two before the News Desk knew of them, and every one of them was correct!

It was a bold routine and the method typically Bcrglas. A friend of David's has the legend. "Get an idea, it's a start," on his letter heading and that's how David begins every project. David's idea in this instance was to make a live prediction of the news. He started by asking himself where the news came from? The obvious answer is the newspapers but David knew that he could get the information before it saw print. The source was the Piccadilly Hotel, which had a news ticker tape in a secluded corner near some telephones. A few select hotels had these devices and they hung the strips of ticker tape up so that guests could read the latest news reports. Knowing this, David arranged for two friends to be at the hotel so that they could phone the information through to the studio.

David accessed this information via a hidden electronic loop built into the set, similar to the hearing aid loops used today. A tiny earpiece enabled him to pick up the transmitted information. The studio clocks had been set two minutes fast so that when the guests called out the time David's predictions would appear to be earlier than the news reports. He had also managed to alter two of the guests' watches. The producer, Ernest Maxin, who later produced television shows for Britain's top comedy duo, Morecambe and W ise, thinks it is the best show he has ever worked on. He never found out how any of the stunts were achieved and for decades has tried to persuade David to come back to television and work his miracles.

David also had an electronic loop built into his apartment. The seemingly impromptu effects he could perform with it were devastating. He had always been fascinated by technology and its use in magic. All in a Flash with its electronic circuitry is one example and others include Regulite, Light Detector, Identikit and DRUM all of which are described in this book. Another is an act lie used for a short while in night clubs back in 1952. Without any visible props he would stand on stage and simply read the minds of his audience. Nothing was written down. He was always correct and the audience always amazed. For instance, one night he said, "I get the impression that someone here has won a large amount of money." As it happened there were some people in the audience that night celebrating a win on the football pools. David asked them to think of the amount. They did and, to their surprise, he was able to tell them exactly how much they had won.

The method used another new piece of technology, a miniature wire recorder. The recorder sat in the pocket while a cable ran down the sleeve to a wristwatch, which was in reality a microphone. A friend of David's wore the dev ice and, posing as a waiter, circulated

Electronic Zodiac Boards, on the television series Opus 13 in Holland.

amongst the guests, lie secretly taped their conversations as he was picking up glasses and delivering ashtrays. He would also whisper the number of the table into the recorder so that later, in the privacy of his dressing room, David would be able to work out which piece of information came from which part of the room. The information was memorised and delivered from the stage in the most impressive manner David could muster. It had a tremendous impact on the audience.

To stay on television you have to innovate and be able to offer new material on each appearance. David's abilities at devising strong visual effects ensured that he graduated from Radio's Man of Magic to Television's Man of Mystery within a few short years. I le appeared as a guest artist on numerous shows and hosted or chaired many of his own. including Focus on Hocus and Modem Magic. I lis routines were spectacularly unique, going further than any of his contemporaries in redefining the boundaries of the impossible, whether teleporting a banknote across the country (see Ten Shilling Sote) or bringing time to a standstill (In Town Tonight). I lis effects were ambitious and his methods devious in the extreme. For David no effect is too impossible and no vision is too great. Thinking big is the maxim by which many of his routines have been created.

Perhaps none of David's television shows have been bigger than Opus /.), a series produced in Holland in the mid-sixties. It was in this arena, working to a huge live audience and millions of viewers that David's magic was giv en free rein. Here at last David's routines could make full use of their inherent production value. Everything about the show was on a huge scale and the resulting publicity was enormous as the public debated whether Dav id was a clever magician or a genuine psychic. It was not a debate he began but the attention was not unwelcome and the show was highly successful. But then, gaining publicity had never been one of David's problems.

Following the Picture Post stunt his fellow magicians regarded him as something of a publicity expert. In 1955 he worked his wonders for the benefit of the British Ring Convention in Southport (Riddle of t/ieSands), reading the mind of the local mayor as he flew above Southport beach in an aircraft. That same year he drove a car blindfolded for The Magic Circle's Golden Jubilee. Everything he did seemed to be larger than life whether racing blindfolded down the Cresta Run, vanishing a piano or hanging a prediction in a box high above Regent Street. Not every stunt worked and here, for the first time, you can read about his plan to predict the outcome of the K A. Cup Final and the behind-the-scenes story of his televised Press Club Prediction in which forces completely outside his control led to some unforeseen last minute changes.

The Art Of Cold Reading

The Art Of Cold Reading

Today I'm going to teach you a fundamental Mentalism technique known as 'cold reading'. Cold reading is a technique employed by mentalists and charlatans and by charlatan I refer to psychics, mediums, fortune tellers or anyone that claims false abilities that is used to give the illusion that the person has some form of super natural power.

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