That was basically it although I have probably forgotten a great deal. He made a big show at the end arguing with the Director and saying that they were trying to make him look stupid. This was obviously for my benefit. He yet again mentioned that damn 'butterscotch'.After leaving the set I couldnt help feeling that something wasnt quite right. The constant evasiveness from the time I arrived to the time I left had made me a little wary but only because I thought it would be biased in favour of psychics and I would be tricked. This obviously not being the case left me somewhat confused. It felt "wrong" but for the life of me I couldnt think why anyone would set me up. After all, despite a fair few brief TV appearances, I really am unknown. When I arrived back home and relayed the days events to my family I felt I should, just for the record, say something about my reservations. So I sent a quick email to the Assistant Producer (14th December 2004);
Hi ****, All went well - I think. If "Shirley" is a medium then I'm a lion tamer! Cheers, Tony
I couldnt really be specific because it still seemed so unlikely that any TV company would go to the trouble of setting me up. I suppose I should feel flattered that they did. I never received a reply to this email.
The next day (Wednesday 15th December 2004)
The day after filming I reluctantly came to the conclusion that this must have been a set up of some kind. But if it was a spoof then I knew no TV company would go to all this trouble just for me. Recalling Wendy's name had also been mentioned I sent her an email, but as we had not been in touch for sometime this turned out to be an old address. I had copied in another friend who knew us both as a sort of back up. This is the email I sentHi
I haven't emailed either of you for so long I'm not sure my address book is up to date so maybe you won't get this at all!
I took part in a programme yesterday being put together by Tiger Aspect. Anyway I was checking to see if you were involved in anyway or knew anyone who was (at one point they mentioned you) Basically it was an obvious set up but not so obvious to me at the time. It is obviously going to be a "taking the piss out of people" type programme but whether it was aimed specifically at sceptics or involved believers as well, I have no idea.
The "medium" was so over the top, and so bad, that in normal circumstances you would fall over laughing. It was the fact that some mediums really are like that, although not to that degree, that held me back. At the time I wasn't sure who was setting up who but it's obvious that I was in fact the 'mark'.
I'm probably too late but if you're approached then be careful.
Eventually she did get my message and she had already done some research and discovered the true identity of 'Shirley' and had confronted the Assistant Producer with this information. In fact to date we know of 5 of us who were set up - there could be more. Who knows When I originally wrote this the AP still thought I was in the dark and although he had contacted at least some of the others he had not spoken again with me. In fact if I have a problem with my own involvement it was the continued silence and only ever being contacted when they discovered they had been rumbled. It seems they operated a 'need to know' policy which makes me wonder about how straight they were with other unwitting contributors. Normally I would have expected to be contacted and had the true purpose explained to me, then, and only then, would I be asked to sign a release form and not as I was being hurried out the door.
Was I fooled
Well yes I was, at least for a time but I should have spotted it sooner dammit. Various things stopped me from working out what was happening during the actual filming. Firstly as already mentioned I never considered myself a worthy target (and maybe they still won't actually use anything from my contribution anyway). Secondly most of the time skeptics are brought in in the expectation that they will ridicule mediums & psychics but in my defence although I always attack their claims, vigorously if necessary, Im not there to attack them as people. Shirley was obviously gay, very loud and more than a little theatrical but none of those things are relevant to determining his ability as a medium, which was what I had been asked to do.
Let me say again, yes it is pretty funny at times although other bits are purile nonsense My own view is that it would have worked much better as a 1 hour special. Please feel free to email me if you have any comments of your own.
Even more Shirley stuff
Apart from Chris French the other skeptics who appeared were Wendy Grossman and Nick Pullar.
You can read Wendy Grossman's account here and Nick Pullar's here.
Wendy even provides a clip of her appearance: www.pelicancrossing.net/shirley.avi