TV Preview: Dynamo: Magician Impossible

By Sarah Lang

2 comments
Sarah Lang is speechless at this magician’s craft

British magician Dynamo.
British magician Dynamo.

The name of this fly-on-the-wall documentary series, Dynamo: Magician Impossible, is no overstatement. Because 30-year-old Brit Steven Frayne, better known as Dynamo, performs magic that leaves you dumbfounded and desperate to know how he does it.

The fascinating four-part series follows Dynamo as he travels the world performing street magic.

In the first episode, which premieres Tuesday night, he mainly sticks to the streets but also performs for various celebrities and shows off to the girls at the FHM 100 Sexiest Women in the World do.

At first, the punters humour the skinny white guy who resembles a gaunt Christian Bale, dresses like Ali G, and can't pronounce "th".

Soon, they're staring at him with their mouths literally hanging open.

Dynamo levitates, breathes ice around a coin, moves a tan line up a girl's arm. A hefty cellphone is suddenly inside a standard-sized glass beer bottle. A guitar is balancing in thin air.

These aren't set-ups with actors. These people are left speechless, apart from the odd shriek. They take a while to grasp and react to what they've just seen. Some look scared. Some back away. "I don't know what he's going to do to me," one guy says.

What is really staggering though is Dynamo's knowledge of things he has no way of knowing.

On one street corner, Dynamo's bankcard, which displays his own name and signature, suddenly displays the sole onlooker's name and signature. That's astonishing enough, but how did he know the guy's pin number?

Later, visiting a musician, Dynamo recounts lyrics that haven't been written down yet, let alone played. The episode's piece de resistance is Dynamo walking on water on the River Thames in London. Hundreds watch. A police speedboat roars over.

Cue global headlines and nearly two million Youtube views.

The show deftly interweaves such stunts with Dynamo's back story, which he narrates well. Growing up on a grim council estate in Bradford, he was thrown in a wheelie-bin and pushed down the hill nearly every day.

So he learned some tricks from his grandfather, a jobbing magician, including how to take the bullies' strength away.

To demonstrate, Dynamo visits heavyweight boxer David Haye, who first time around picks up Dynamo like a leaf. Second time around, Haye can't lift him a millimetre. "That's not human," Haye says. That's not the only time that's said in this episode.

This sweet, softly-spoken guy has gone from performing card tricks on the Tube to performing on TV shows and at the MTV Awards, fronting commercials for adidas and Nokia, and counting Jay-Z and Russell Brand as friends.

Now his TV show, whose third series has been shot, is a ratings darling and Bafta nominee. But that fame, and tens of thousands of followers on social-networking sites, aren't enough.

In his narration, Dynamo admits he wants as many fans as top music artists have.

However, he's not doing it just for fame and wealth. "For as long as I can remember, all I wanted to do is amaze people, to take away the stress of everyday life, if only just for a minute.

"For me, magic isn't about fooling people. It's about creating a moment of wonder where, for a short while, anything is possible."

I don't doubt that. But perhaps the badly bullied Bradford boy also wants to be liked.

Dynamo: Magician Impossible premieres Tuesday, 7.30pm, TV One.

- Herald on Sunday

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