Tab Interview: Colin Fry
Philosopher TABATHA LEGGETT quizzes TV medium COLIN FRY. It doesn’t end well…
If someone told you that they could hear voices of people whom you and I can’t see, you’d think they were schizophrenic. If someone told you they could communicate with the dead, you’d force them to seek help. If someone told you that they could see into the afterlife, you’d probably write them off as a lost cause. Or, you could give them some money, a gullible audience and a TV studio, and market them as a television medium. Enter Colin Fry.
‘Darling, I know that what I do is controversial – that’s the very nature of my job,’ Colin tells me. ‘The best thing to do is simply to ignore your critics. For example, I recently read a story in a tabloid newspaper about a soap star whose breast implants were reported to have burst on a plane. Thing is, she’d had her breast implants removed two years prior to the story being written! You can’t believe everything the tabloids write about you, because at the end of the day, they’re there to sell papers. They make up stories.’
Feeling a bit awkward about Colin not realising that the interview he was giving was to a hack from a tabloid paper, combined with not quite being able to see the link between the controversial practice of medium-ship and exploding breast implants, I asked Colin: ‘How would you respond to a critic wh-’
He interrupted before I could mention cold reading. ‘I wouldn’t. I just wouldn’t go there.’
‘You wouldn’t respond to your critics?’ I asked.
‘No. I wouldn’t,’ Colin replied. ‘There’s no point in trying to defend myself. Sceptics are always going to say what sceptics are going to say. And tabloid newspapers love to report untrue stories. For example, recently a paper got hold of a story about my private life-’
I interrupted. ‘I’m not asking you about tabloid newspapers and their journalistic integrity. I’m asking whether you can defend what you do in the light of clear scientific evidence against it.’
‘Look, love,’ Colin replied somewhat patronisingly, ‘There is scientific evidence against what I do, but there’s also scientific evidence for what I do. That’s the problem with science: for every hypothesis, there’s always going to be people who support and disclaim it. Look at George Stephenson; no one thought that his steam train idea would work.’
So, Colin clearly doesn’t fully grasp the concept of science. But, what does he think of Derren Brown? ‘Derren Brown is a good illusionist,’ he answered. ‘But, when he’s challenged, he won’t respond. I once asked him to do a show with me in front of a totally independent audience, and he wouldn’t do it. What’s more, he won’t let any theatre staff go backstage with him on his tours. I, however, have always said that anyone can come on tour with me for a week and watch what I do. There’s nothing suspicious about my work.’
Colin Fry performing on Living TV
If this is the case, Colin is slightly more credible. However, I fear that these claims may be empty. Sensing that getting into any sort of scientific discussion with Colin was impossible, I moved on to the ethical implications of his craft. ‘Do you think it’s ethically acceptable to toy with people’s feelings in the way that you do?’ I asked.
‘I don’t toy with people’s feelings, darling. I take my job very seriously. I spend two hours every day reading messages on my Facebook page and helping people bereave.’
By this point in the interview, darling, it’s clear to me that what Colin Fry does is total nonsense. What isn’t clear is whether or not he is deluded enough to believe what he preaches. I tried to find out. ‘Do you believe in an afterlife?’
‘I don’t believe in an afterlife,’ he responded, ‘I know there is one.’
‘What’s it like?’
‘I can’t describe eternity to you, love. But, I can tell you this: the afterlife involves a state of being whereby we all have a duty to evolve ourselves. Our creating force recognises that we want to recognise things after death, and so He is kind enough to make sure that it’s not too strange once we get there.
‘Look, believing in an afterlife isn’t that strange. Try explaining to a two-year-old that one day they’ll live as a fifty-year-old. They won’t understand you. This is equivalent to trying to explain to an adult that once they pass, they’ll enter a gradual process of evolvement whereby they will become something entirely different.’
So, Colin knows there is an afterlife, but can he predict the future? ‘Darling, if I could predict the future, I’d know this week’s lottery numbers. That’s not to say that I can’t predict some things. For example, once I was in a pub in London and I saw a man who made my flesh crawl. I’d never seen him before, but I went up to him and said ‘Leave this pub and never come near me again.’ Now, I’m usually a placid man, but he made me feel physically sick. He had a bad energy, and I got a sense of warning. Anyway, turns out he was Dennis Nilson.’
So, he knows there’s an afterlife, but can’t describe it and has a vague sense of the future which he also can’t describe. Is he religious? ‘Oh, good God no,’ he responded. ‘I believe in a creating force, and it’s convenient to call that God. I despise organised religion, and I can’t stand it when people think that their religion is somehow better than everyone else’s.
‘As a gay man, I had a huge problem with the Pope’s recent visit. I have nothing against Catholics; I have lots of Catholic friends. But, his trip was not a trip of peace and love. I could not understand why he was here, when he constantly makes vile and unacceptable attacks on the lives of gay, lesbian and transgender people.’
The first piece of sense that Colin has spoken! But, fear not: it doesn’t last long. I asked Colin whether I could become a medium. ‘Look, love, the reason I can do what I do is because I look for ‘it’.’
‘I could start looking for ‘it’?’ I suggested.
‘No, no. Some people are born to be a medium. Look at Picasso; he was born to paint. Everyone is born with a gift of some sort, and this is mine.’
‘So, how does it work?’ I asked. ‘Do you physically see dead people wandering around?’
‘The dead connect to me,’ he answered with a degree of assertion. ‘If you ever meet a medium who claims that they can contact the dead, run away. I can’t control who contacts me. That’s why, if you come to one of my shows hoping to contact your mum, this may not happen. You might end up contacting an uncle. I can’t control that.
‘It’s not a case of seeing dead people; I don’t always see anything. In the vast majority of cases, I sense their thoughts, feelings and emotions. For example, I was doing a show in Tokyo in 1994, where there were very few English speakers. I had to use a translator. All day, I’d had this image of a crystal butterfly. Anyway, the father of a lady on the second row contacted me, and I came out with what he was saying phonetically. The lady burst into tears, and told me I’d said her father’s pet name for her. It translated as: glass butterfly.’
I don’t for a minute believe that Colin can actually talk to the dead. What’s more, I think he knows that too. But, having spoken to him, I think he justifies what he does on the grounds that he gives grieving people closure and hope. Whether or not this is justification enough is debatable, but I don’t think Colin is a bad person.
So, what can you expect to see in Colin’s show in Cambridge? ‘It’ll be an evening of opening minds and accepting the possibility of existence after death.’ Of course it will.
For more information on Colin Fry’s show at The Cambridge Corn Exchange on 30th October, click here.