Time Out: Tim Arthur Recommended

BBC Radio 1’s in-house magician with his mix of magic, psychology and mind-reading. He does tricks that Jesus would have been proud of. Very funny young man and part of the new generation of magicians

There’s nothing I like more than a young man in a ‘He-Man’ T-shirt doing tricks in a Starbucks. So I was in luck when I went to interview mentalist Chris Cox in one of those fine corporate coffee emporiums. By mentalist I don’t mean one of those nutters who shouts ‘Go on, fuck of!” at your randomly on the tube, I mean someone who reads minds.

In this intimate setting it’s fun to watch him perform a couple of impressive card routines but it’s his more cerebral work that I’m here to see.

‘I always tell my audience how I’m going to do things. It’ll be a mixture of magic, psychology, neuro-linguistic programming, subliminal messaging, influencing, devilish good looks and lying.’ He casually makes a coin disappear and re-appear out of thing air.
‘Have you got a book in your bag?’
I take out a novel and show it to him
‘Okay, turn to any page. Look at the top three words on the left hand page. Okay I want you to picture them in your mind. Think about the first word. Is it a long or short word? Don’t tell me. It’s short. The next word, can you picture the word in some way? I’m seeing a hand or something, interesting. For the last word recite the alphabet for me.’
I go through all the letters with him scrutinising my face.
‘No , I missed it.’ He’s looking worried. “‘Think of it again. Lift your chin up a bit and spell it over in your head. It’s an “ood” sounding word. “Would?” No. “Could”. So the first word is a short one like “be” or “but”. The second words looks like an American Indian holding up his hand. Is it “How”? Okay, I think the three words are “but how could”. He’s bang on and that’s very creepy.

Given that inevitable comparisons have been drawn between Cox and Derren Brown, how difficult is it not to imitate his persona? “Derren is so good and powerful but people aren’t going to buy that from me. I’m just a geeky, slightly nervous, not really particularly confident young kid who is surprised when stuff actually works. So I just have to be myself.”
Before I leave he informs me he’s been loading my mind with a subliminal message to add to the article. Ha! I’m afraid you got that one wrong, Chris.