WHEN I WENT into the tiny BBC radio studio to be interviewed on the Jimmy Young Show that November morning in 1973, I wasn’t prepared for what was going to happen. I was ready for something, but nothing as big and as mind-blowing as what followed. I liked Jimmy Young. He was a beautiful person, I knew right away, very warm and friendly. I usually can tell immediately whether I’m going to like a person. Jimmy made me feel right at home, which was good because I was a little nervous, as I usually am when I go before an audience.
The Jimmy Young Show has a large radio audience. It reaches all over England, up into Scotland, and to Ireland, and I’m sure he’s very popular with his listeners. The audience reaction that followed proved that.
Jimmy began with the usual questions. He asked when I had first found out that I was able to bend keys, nails or other metal objects just by touching them lightly and when I had learned I could start up a watch or clock that hadn’t run for years. I said I had noticed these things way back in my first years in school, much to the surprise of my classmates, my teachers’ my parents – and also myself. In fact, I am still surprised, and I still have a sense of wonder when these things happen.
Then he asked me if I would demonstrate for him. Of course I had agreed to try before I went on the show. Jimmy took a thick Yale key from his pocket and put it down in front of me. I did what I usually do, laying my hand over the key and wishing it to bend. Jimmy was watching carefully, and by this time the engineers in the control room were peeping through their window. Everybody was expectant and excited. I continued to be a little nervous myself, because sometimes these demonstrations do not work, which is very embarrassing for me. I am confident that they will work most of the time, but there is still that chance that they won’t.
Just as I started to put my hand over the key, I remembered the events of a radio broadcast in Texas a few months before, which even I had trouble believing. I had taped a show there, and it went on the air several days after I had left. On that show, I had done the usual demonstration of bending keys and nails, while the commentator described what was happening. What happens is very simple but also very startling. The key begins to bend slowly as I either rub it lightly with my fingers or hold my hand over it. Then it continues bending after I take my hand away. Sometimes it bends only slightly and stops. Other times, it continues up to a 45 degree angle, or even to a right angle. Sometimes it will seem to melt, without heat, and half the key will drop off. I’m never sure myself what a key will do.
After the taped interview had been played on the air in Texas, I had received a signed affidavit from three employees of the Texas Attorney General’s Office. An attorney there had suggested to three women employees that they listen to the broadcast and, just for fun, that they put some metal objects on the table in the records room there, and concentrate on them. To the surprise of everyone, as their affidavit reported, a spoon handle bent to about 45 degrees, a door key completely broke in half, and a large paper clip vanished. I know how unbelievable this sounds, but their affidavit is real, and there apparently was no motive for them to make the story up. They would hardly gain anything from it. What puzzled me most was that this was a delayed broadcast, and I had already left Texas when it went on the air.
As I sat in the BBC studio in London four months later and concentrated on the key Jimmy Young had given me to bend, this story came back to me. It must have been that memory that prompted me to suggest that people listening in their homes might concentrate on their keys – or spoons or forks – and see what happened. The words just seemed to slip out. And then I added: “If there are any broken watches in your house, please concentrate on them and try to make them work. Just take them in your hand and concentrate on them.”
Just about this time I took my hand away from Jimmy Young’s key. It was starting to bend, and it continued to do so. As we watched, he was so startled that he almost shouted: “It’s bending right in front of me. I can’t believe it!” The key was bending, as I had seen happen so many times before. His words, intense and excited, were being broadcast live all through England, Scotland, and Ireland. We continued talking, and I continued demonstrating.
The studio producer rushed in with a bunch of notes. I didn’t know at first what they were all about, so I kept talking. I explained how I was always as baffled as anyone else when I bent a key or spoon.
The producer continued running in and out of the studio with one note after another. Then I reaised what was happening. The entire BBC switchboard had lit up like a Christmas tree. There were phone calls from England, from Ireland, from Scotland, from all over the British Isles. All England seemed to be bending. The phone calls were reporting that knives, forks, spoons, keys, and nails were bending in homes everywhere, near and far from London. A lady from Harrow reported that she was stirring soup when suddenly the ladle started bending. The gold bracelet of a girl in Surrey buckled and bent. A police constable said that several knives and spoons had curled up. A jeweler reported that half the pieces on a tray of cutlery bent. A watchmaker said that his tweezers had done the same. There were reports of watches and clocks starting up that hadn’t run for years.
There was complete confusion at the BBC. After the Texas experience, I had half expected this to happen. I thought that, if people really wanted things to happen in their homes and really concentrated, I could trigger it, because what I do could serve to release the same strange energy in other people. But I was still astounded that so many calls had come in from so many places. The BBC switchboard was absolutely jammed.
When I returned to the Hyde Park Hotel after the radio show, reporters from all the wire services and newspapers were waiting for me. The news of what had happened all over England had gone out fast. There were journalists from Reuters, the Associated Press, the UPI, many British newspapers – even from Japan. They showered me with questions and asked me to demonstrate how I bend keys and spoons and rings, which I did for them. Everyone seemed to be wondering what was going to happen when I repeated the performance the next night on “David Dimbleby’s Talk-In,” one of the BBC’s most popular television shows.
I was wondering myself. If so many things had occurred as a result of a radio show – where no one could see what was happening – what would the results be from the more powerful influence of television? I’d heard that the audience would be very big because of holdovers from the Miss Universe awards, scheduled just before my appearance.
I woke up the next morning to find big front-page headlines in all the London papers. Some of them aimed at humor: “URI PUTS BRITAIN IN A TWIST,” or “URI CATCHES BRITAIN BENDING.” I had never had such attention before. I guess there isn’t anyone who doesn’t enjoy seeing his name in the front-page headlines, and I am no exception. In addition, the news had gone out all over the world, they told me, through the wire services.
I was also a little perplexed, as I usually am, because I am convinced that there is something very serious beyond the strange things that happen to metal and other objects. For the past few years, 1 had been doing everything I could to find out just what it all meant. But in England that fall I didn’t have much time to think about philosophy. I was preparing for a lecture-demonstration tour through many countries of Europe and elsewhere, and the pace of it left little time for reflection.
As usual, I was a little nervous when I returned to the BBC the next day, again afraid that nothing would happen when I tried to repeat the demonstration for the television cameras. There were going to be two other guests on the show. One of them was Professor John Taylor, a well-known mathematician from the Department of Mathematics at King’s College of the University of London. I had heard that he was fair-minded. The other guest was to be Dr. Lyall Watson, a well-known biologist and author of Supernature.
David Dimbleby is a very pleasant man. He and others had brought things for me to experiment with-forks, spoons, keys, and several broken watches. Just before the show started, the host and the other guests went into another room to prepare a drawing, which would be sealed in an envelope for me to guess and duplicate during the program.
If it hadn’t been for the amazing occurrences during the radio show the day before, perhaps I wouldn’t have been so nervous. But I didn’t want the television show, in front of such a big audience, to be a letdown. Also, I knew that a scientist like John Taylor was bound to be skeptical, even if he saw things happen in front of his eyes.
When the show went on the air, everything seemed to be working right. I concentrated on the sealed envelope, closed my eyes, and waited for whatever picture might appear in the sort of screen that I always see in my forehead. It wasn’t long before I saw a shape very clearly – that of a sailboat. The envelope was opened and sure enough, it was a drawing of a sailboat. They were astonished. But that was only the beginning.
Various things were spread out on a table: forks, spoons, broken watches, and keys. I suggested that the audience concentrate while I was concentrating. Dimbleby held a spoon in his hand, and I stroked it lightly with two fingers. It bent almost double in a very short time. As the spoon was bending in Dimbleby’s hand, a fork on the table bent without anyone’s touching it. I stroked another fork, and it bent until the handle broke off and dropped on the table. Then I began concentrating on the broken watches on the table. They began starting up almost immediately. Lyall Watson’s watch, which had been running perfectly, suddenly stopped.
The hands inside one of the other watches suddenly curled up against the crystal.
Professor Taylor, who had begun the program with a skeptical attitude, seemed to be shocked by what was happening. So did the others. The demonstration couldn’t have been more successful. And any doubts I’d had about the effect of the television show throughout England were cleared up immediately. The BBC switchboard was again jammed, so jammed that it was almost put out of commission. The same thing had again happened in homes everywhere. Even on the Channel Island of Guernsey, three families had seen their spoons bend and broken clocks start up. Fourteen callers reported that they too had received the drawing of the sailboat telepathically.
The headlines were even bigger as a result of the television program, and again the press filled my hotel room. They came for interviews, but they also came with challenges. I was used to the challenges, because all my life many people have accused me of using magic tricks or illusions. I can understand why they do. If I were to read in the newspaper about someone who did these things, I would have doubts too. I would want to see it firsthand, and I would want to make sure myself that there were no tricks being played.
I was glad about what happened on the BBC shows, because thousands of other people, all across England, were involved. At least I couldn’t be accused of trickery, as I often was. There was no possible way I could arrange for objects to bend and watches to start in thousands of homes all over the country. The newspapers sent people out to check the viewers and listeners directly; they confirmed dozens of the cases reported to the BBC switchboard. There was no doubt whatever that these things had happened. My main question was: Did many people have these powers, and had they been triggered by listening to the radio show and watching the television program?
I still am not sure about this. For the two years before the BBC broadcasts, I had been going through scientific tests in the United States at the Stanford Research Institute at Menlo Park, California. The first results had confirmed that something strange and new was happening, both with the metal objects involved and with telepathy experiments. The researchers there had indicated that, if the tests continued to check out as they had, they would have a serious effect on modern science. This of course was exciting. One scientist even mentioned that, if what was happening were fully confirmed, science would have to take a whole new look at the theories of Galileo, Newton. and Einstein.
One of the British newspaper articles that pleased me most was by Clifford Davis, TV editor of the Mirror and also a magician, a member of the Inner Magic Circle, England’s leading association of magicians. He wrote in the Mirror: “Any worthwhile magician could perform similar feats, but it would be trickery. Uri must be genuine.” His story continued: “Anyone performing feats like this under such conditions cannot be a fake. Uri has stood up to thirteen laboratory tests in the United States. It shows that in rare cases the power of the mind can move or even bend inanimate objects.”
Since many magicians had been trying to prove I was nothing more than an illusionist, it was good to have one of them come out like this in print, even though I have learned to ignore those who say what I do is false. I know what I do is real, and that is what counts.
The events in England were real, not the results of magic, and they were important. For the first time other people, hearing and watching someone who has these powers and energies, found them manifested in their own homes. They were important also because they could help create more interest in scientific studies about unknown energies. I feel that these powers come from far outside me, that I am like a tube that channels them. And beyond that is what the powers mean to the whole mystery of the universe. I know that something unusual is going on here, and I’d like other people, as many as possible, to know about it, to explore it together. I know it was and is important to work with scientists. But whatever I have to show or to say becomes more important if it has reached millions of people.
I told this to Bryan Silcock, science editor of the Sunday Times, as he rode with me in a taxi to Heathrow airport after the two BBC shows. Silcock is a respected science reporter, and the Sunday Times is one of the best papers in London. I knew that what he wrote about our interview would carry weight with many intelligent readers, including scientists. I was glad that he was taking the time to talk to me. During the ride he held out one of his own keys, and I stroked it lightly with my fingers. It began to curl up almost immediately. Silcock, at first skeptical, was very impressed. At the airport, a KLM ticket agent who had seen the television show the night before asked me to start up her broken watch. I held it between my palms for a few seconds, and it moved directly to the correct hour. I also bent a thick letter opener. Silcock was amazed. He wrote his column in the Sunday Times under the headline: “URI BENDS A KNIFE–AND MY CYNICAL MIND.” The column said: “Uri Geller finally boarded his flight for Paris leaving this initially highly skeptical science correspondent with his mind totally blown. I missed his television programme. Even if I had seen it, I would probably have remained a doubter. But it is utterly impossible to remain skeptical after seeing Uri Geller in action. . . . He says that he is prepared to go on doing so until the bulk of scientific opinion is convinced. He is prepared to take part in any genuine scientific experiment.”
Silcock also quoted a comment by John Taylor about what had happened on the TV program. “We know what he can do,” Professor Taylor said. “I would like to try to find out how. Some kind of explanation along conventional scientific lines might be possible. I would very much like to get in touch with people who had odd experiences during the TV programme, as they might have similar, but less developed, powers.”
Professor Taylor would later do so, with amazing results. But at that moment there was little time for savoring his remarks and Silcock’s. I was on my way to Paris for an interview with Paris Match as part of the tour, which was to cover England again, then the United States for a short time, followed by Germany, Switzerland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Holland, and Japan.
Just before I left London, representatives from one of the Sunday papers had asked me to work with them on a stunt they thought would be interesting and amusing. I was going to be in Paris, but I told them I’d concentrate very hard at 12:30 P.M., London time, and we’d see what would happen. The paper, Sunday People, had a circulation of 15 million, so I felt fairly confident that something would happen.
I suggested to the paper that its readers surround themselves with various metal things and, at 12:30 P.M., hold spoons and forks in their hands and concentrate with me on the objects, even though I would be across the Channel in France. I also suggested that they stroke the objects lightly with thumbs or fingers. If they had any broken watches, they were to do the same with them. I told the editors that often nothing happens at all, but it would be interesting to see if anything did.
I was at Orly Airport in Paris on Sunday, November 25, preparing to return to London. I concentrated hard, beginning at 12:15, in an attempt to send thoughts and energies across the Channel. If the effort worked, it would show again that the energies could be transferred. And it certainly could not be dismissed as an ordinary illusionist’s trick. I was keenly interested in the outcome.
At exactly 12:30, I shouted: “Bend!” I don’t know if the people at the airport thought I was crazy or what. But I do know that within a few days the editors of the paper were mind-blown. Sunday People received more than a thousand letters. Hundreds of broken clocks and watches that had been written off as useless had started up, and forks and spoons had bent all over England again. The watch of a woman in Dorset that hadn’t run for forty years started up. A watch in Birmingham started, but the hands went backward. In one home, the screws popped out of a cupboard hinge, and in another the bars of a bird cage bent.
The newspaper made a final tabulation of the results from their readers:
|Clocks and watches restarted||1,031|
|Forks and spoons bent or broken||293|
|Other objects bent or broken||51|
Dr. Edward Bastin, a mathematician at the Cambridge University Language Research Unit told the newspaper: “A question that now needs to be asked is whether the owners influenced the objects by themselves, or whether Uri did so through them.” This, as I’ve already stated, was a question I wanted to have answered myself.
Another paper, the Sunday Mirror, thought it might discredit me. It sent one of the keys I had bent to a metallurgist who speciaised in metal fatigue. Chris Amon, the metal expert, told the newspaper: “There are no tricks, no fake key, nothing suspicious at all.” He said it would take 63 pounds of pressure to bend that particular key, which, by the way, I hadn’t even touched. I had just concentrated on it, and it had curled up without my touching it.
The events in England toward the end of 1973 marked the first time that the effect reached thousands of people and came directly into their lives. Those who thought I was some kind of illusionist or magician would find it impossible to explain those events. They were happening far away from me, and to other people. The evidence was there for all to see: the BBC phone calls, the newspaper interview follow-ups, the long series of newspaper articles, the direct demonstrations to the reporters, and the hundreds of thousands of television viewers who not only saw these energies at work, but who participated in them.
But, in spite of everything, there still were magicians who claimed that I was simply a clever illusionist. They were fanatical and jealous. They claimed that they could duplicate what I did by tricks. But none of them wanted to try under the controlled scientific conditions that I had been working under for many months at Stanford Research Institute, or with other reputable research groups who had already tested me or were planning to in the future. I would agree to any magician’s sitting on a panel that examined me, as long as he went through the same controlled scientific tests I did, and there were scientists present.
The critics who were against me often tried to explain how I did my demonstrations. Some of them said I used acid on the metal objects I bent. Others even said that I must use a laser beam of some sort. If they had stopped to think how ridiculous their charges were, they would not have made them. If I used anything like acid, my fingers would have burned and dropped off years ago. If there were such a thing as a portable laser generator, and I had used one, I probably would have burned myself up altogether by this time. As I understand, a laser machine has to be able to generate thousands of volts of electricity in the most complex sort of electronic equipment. I would probably be exhausted from trying to carry it around – if I could at all.
None of the critics in England tried to explain how the two broadcasts and the experiment across the Channel from France reached so many people in their homes. There was no possible way that this phenomenon could have been caused by show business magic. They were silent about that. They have also stayed silent about the starting up of clocks and watches that haven’t run for years. Mostly, they are content with showing how some keys or nails can be made to appear bent by sleight of hand, or how some apparently miraculous mental telepathy feats can be faked.
Magicians can do some of the things I do and make them look real. They are often very skillful at it. When they perform on a stage under their own prescribed conditions, they never fail. But when they try to do them under laboratory conditions, they fail miserably. I readily admit that I sometimes fail, and it’s rather embarrassing when I do. Since I’m convinced that what I do comes from an energy force far outside of me, I’m never sure when I will fail. If I were a professional magician, which I’m not, I am certain I would practice to the point where I, like they, would never fail either. As it is, I would make a pretty miserable excuse for a professional magician.
The reception of the press in England at the end of 1973 was really impressive. Bryan Silcock wrote a second article in the Sunday Times that was encouraging to me. He said: “If people really can bend metal by Mindpower, it will mean a revolution in science and our whole way of thinking about the world, more profound than anything since Newton turned the universe into a piece of clockwork three centuries ago.”
An article in the Times said the fact that an illusionist could, under certain conditions, appear to duplicate some of the things I was doing did not explain how objects could be affected in homes hundreds of miles away from the BBC studios.
But none of what happened in England in the late fall of 1973 was as startling as the news I later received in a letter from a well-known scientific consultant in England. What he told me was incredible. There is still no explanation, and I wonder if there ever will be.
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“There is no spoon!”
“The world needs your amazing talents. I need them”
“Uri Geller gave an absolutely resonating talk on his life and career. He had every single magician in the room on the edge of their seats trying to digest as much information as they could. Uri emphasized that the path to frame is through uniqueness and charisma and that professional entertainers must be creative in their pursuits of success and never shy away from publicity.”
Tannens Magic Blog
“The man is a natural magician. He does everything with great care, meticulous misdirection and flawless instinct. The nails are real, the keys are really borrowed, the envelopes are actually sealed, there are no stooges, there are no secret radio devices and there are no props from the magic catalogues.”
James Randi (In an open letter to Abracadabra Magazine)
Sir Elton John
“Eternity is down the hall And you sit there bending spoons In your mind, in your mind”
“I Have watched Uri Geller… I have seen that so I am a believer. It was my house key and the only way I would be able to use it is get a hammer and beat it out back flat again.”
“Better than watching Geller bending silver spoons, better than witnessing new born nebulae’s in bloom”