The Next Uri Geller Holland, The Finale - From a Different Perspective
Sadly, last weekend was the Finale of the third season of my TV series "De Nieuwe Uri Geller" (The Next Uri Geller) in the Netherlands.
I say sadly because it's been such an enjoyable show to do, and I've worked with such an incredible team of people who I'll very much miss working with - and the live audiences have been simply phenomenal, so I really was sad that the show was coming to an end - although energized at the same time in anticipation of such a dramatic and exciting final!
My good friend & Webmaster, Kev Lewis, came along to the finale, and spent the day with Shipi & I, so I thought it would be a more interesting perspective for my readers, to allow Kev to tell you about the finale, along with some of the pictures he snapped......
I've followed the pics & Youtube clips of Uri's series "De Nieuwe Uri Geller", and I've heard from Uri about what's happened each week - but as I'm in the UK & the show isn't available here, I've only really seen short snippets - so although I was sure the show would be exiting, I wasn't really prepared for just how dramatic intriguing and captivating the show would be!
So here I am on the way to the SBS6 studio, we arrive mid afternoon with Uri & Shipi discussing the days planned events & all the things which need to be attended to, and I start to get a picture straight away of just how much hard work & preparation goes into a live series like this.
We drive in past the amazing multi coloured TV network building, and then past the X factor studio, and I'm quite overwhelmed at the size & grandeur of the whole media centre in which the studio is located.
Uri & Shipi both dismiss my suggestion of finding the power cable for the Xfactor studio & unplugging it to help increase the ratings for the final - and we enter the studio of De Nieuwe Uri Geller. A couple of burly looking security guys give me the once over, but a quick nod from Uri's body guard, and they quickly become more friendly & let me pass, that's a relief!
Uri immediately takes me to see the studio - and I'm stunned by the set, which looks like it must have taken months to build, and which is bustling with people all working on the preparations for the final. Finalist performers are milling about all looking busy & focused, but Rinke & Sudesh both find time to come over & say hi. I notice how relaxed & confident they both seem, and realise what a bag of nerves I would be if it were me about to perform live in the final, in front of a live audience of 1,000 people - and with multiple TV camera's streaming me into the TV sets of the people of Holland.
What amazes me most though I think, is the physical & mental stamina of all of those involved in the show. I don't think that Uri, the production team or the finalists stopped moving for more than a few seconds. Even when Uri sat down to have lunch, he was multi tasking with dozens of things to do & to discuss with his team before the show started. I was getting tired just watching everyone being so busy, and I was probably the only person there who wasn't under pressure to do various tasks in time for the start of the show.
What also amazed me was the sheer number of the audience who turned up much earlier on in the day. The show aired at 8pm, yet at about 3PM Uri was outside signing dozens of autographs & having his picture taken with some of the crowd which had apparently started gathering much earlier in the day.
The hour in the run up to the show going live was the most hectic, Uri was handed a huge pile of pictures that he needed to write a message on & autograph to people before the show went live, and he juggled this with bending spoons for the many people who were invited to the dressing room to meet Uri, having his audio system put on him & set up (for translations of what the finalists are saying), make up, wardrobe, an interview with SBS news, and all manner of other tasks.
So, it's now time to go live, I walk onto the set with Uri & I'm almost deafened by the crowd who're obviously pleased to see Uri - and I allow myself the fantasy just for a second, that they're screaming for me!
The show begins, and the whole thing is started so dramatically, that I almost drop Uri's video camera I'm holding, as the pyrotechnics blast flames about 20 feet high - I wasn't expecting that!!
I decided that I would give you a very brief run down of each performance, for anyone who wants to get a feel for what the show entails but wasn't able to watch it live. At the bottom of this page you'll find links to video's of each performance, I'd recommend going & watching for yourself.....
First finalist is Nuno.
Nuno's performance was captivating & dramatic involving him climbing into a glass tank which was subsequently filled with water, and having to point to one of 25 keys which the lovely co host Patty Brard had poured onto the lid of the tank.
Patty had proven earlier on Nunos instructions that the keys were all different, by trying some of them in the padlock - so we all knew that it wasn't a simple case of them all being the same key.
At one point Patty very cautiously freed the scorpion from it's jar, there was a few laughs while Patty nearly had kittens as the scorpion made a bid for freedom. I think this was all intended to ensure that the audience could see it was a real scorpion, and it certainly was, either that or the best (and only) radio controlled lethal insect I've ever encountered! Nuno then had to locate the key to the padlocks to get him out.
No mentalists or scorpions were harmed.... He located the key , and I held my breath as soon as the lid went down, I'd already gasped for air long before the tank lid was released, and even once the lid was opened he stayed in the tank for maybe 10 seconds, which must have felt to him like hours, adding to the dramatics, before very slowly & calmly rising from the water. Amazingly he didn't gasp for breath, he showed now outward signs of physical stress at all, which is pretty amazing given that he'd just been locked in a tank of water for a couple of minutes.
In the commercial break, Uri gets up out of his hot seat & runs up into the crowd to sign autographs. I followed with the camera, and as you can see by a couple of the pics I took below, he was set upon very quickly by large numbers of excited fans, I actually had to watch my footing as people were sprinting past me on the stairs trying to get closer to him!
Next was Sudesh, who I'd earlier on pointed out to Uri & Shipi, looks a bit like like Sayid from the hit TV series LOST (Google Sayid from Lost if you don't watch the show, and you'll see what I mean).
Sudesh's performance was on a completely different angle to Nuno's, and I couldn't help thinking what a good decision it was for the whole dynamics of the live show to do it in this way. My attention had certainly been completely fixed on the show partly as a result of the great dynamic they achieved with the clever positioning of the acts & I'm sure it was the same for the audience, and those watching at home.
Sudesh had a very emotional & charismatic performance, which started off with bubble blowing - worlds apart from death defying near downing & being stung by scorpions....
I was wondering where he was going with the bubbles - until he caught one in his hand, and then displayed that it had somehow transformed into a solid crystal!
His final display however was the real shocker....
I couldn't understand what was being said during the build up, but I was aware it was particularly emotional, and it continued to get more & more so. I was wondering where we were going, when Sudesh starting crying!
It wasn't acting, it was real tears - and I could see by the look on Uri's face (I quickly caught his face on camera while he was looking slightly disturbed, see below) that he was as shocked and slightly concerned as everyone else was.
Was this tearful display a part of the act? I had been sure it was but as it continued I started to worry that the whole thing had been too much for him.... Until, that is - he gets hold of a champagne glass, puts it under his eye - and the TV screens reveal a lump just suddenly appear under his eyeball, as if he has a problem with his tear duct. This lump gets bigger - he pulls his cheek down, and a pearl drops out from under his eyeball & lands in the champagne glass!!
Instantly everyone realises this all has been leading somewhere, and I notice there's quite a bit of relief on Uri's face. I was impressed to say the least - as were the crowd who were going mad for this performance. I did consider how useful this skill could be - you'll never have to worry about a recession if you can cry precious stones!
Anyway - another amazing performance, perfectly executed, thanks to the performer himself & of course the impeccable planning & organisation of the whole production crew who helped to build the drama & intrigue with the use of lighting effects, music, the large TV screens and an awful lot of hard work in preparation.
Next is She-Mask - and again, we were onto a completely different dynamic - this time from emotional, spiritual & calm but shocking - to vivid, theatrical - and I have to say, sexy!
I can understand the obvious excitement in the audience for the performance they were about to witness, as just seeing She Mask walking across the stage in her amazingly exaggerated, theatrical & alluring manner, in her fantastic costume & mask, and accompanied by her gang of muscular men all wearing similar masks, was a performance worth watching in & of itself, even without all the amazing feats she was about to display.
This performance completely bewildered me, I have to admit. It was one amazing stunt after the other, far too many to mention them all (see links to all the final video's at the bottom of this page), but just to give you an idea:
She climbed into a triangular frame with paper sides, which was flat on a table & was built before us so we could see all it's parts. She got in, and immediately her masked men started throwing flaming spears in through the paper sides. I was sat very close, and there was no obvious way I can see for how she could have avoided the spears, the triangle was mounted on a table top, and we could see behind & below the table. After the spears were completely covering all sides of the triangle, the sides were removed to reveal she was no longer inside! That was met by audible shock from the audience - but I and the rest of the audience I think were more shocked by the fact that the guys closed the doors, and then opened them only a couple of seconds later to reveal she was back in there! I have no idea how she managed to do that!
She then builds the drama even more, takes off her mask, turns around so we can't see her face, hangs the mask on a hook which pulls it up into the roof - and gets back into the triangle - the triangle's sides are dropped again - and she's gone - and in her place is a rather large lizard!
This is incredible enough, but that's not it - She-Mask then slides down a rope from the roof!! How the heck did she get up there?? She scoops up her reptile pet and holds it in quite an affectionate manner, leaving most of the guys in the audience wishing they were that lizard!
All the performances were pretty amazing, but for me this was the performances which packed the most in terms of sheer adrenaline, it was just one revelation after the other - it had me, and the other thousand or so people in the live audience completely mesmerized.
Talking about being mesmerized - next up was Rinke.
Rinke's performance was about hypnosis. I'd heard about some of the amazing things he'd done with hypnotizing people on previous live shows, so I knew we were in for a live performance - but I have to admit I wasn't really expecting to be all that impressed. For the simple reason that I never believed in stage performances of hypnotism, I just assumed they were all about having plants in the audience, and I never thought for a minute that these kinds of acts were actually the real thing.
I was about to be surprised though, for the umpteenth time that evening!
The first thing that impressed me, was who he was about to hypnotise, Patty, Christina, Viktor & Robert . (It should have been Patty, Christina, Viktor & Babette, but Babette chickened out - I'm not sure what her excuse was as I don't speak Dutch, but she got out of it anyway.)
These weren't plants, and I'd seen all of these that day, there had been no rehearsals going on which involved them, and believe me for the performance we were about to see, if it were really just a pre-planned & rehearsed stage performance, there would have had to have been some serious rehearsing - and it would require that the participants would be three brilliant actors. If it were any normal person in this circumstance & they weren't truly "under" , they would just crack up, or they would show at least some signs that they weren't really in full belief of what they were doing.
Rinke convinced Patty that she was a police woman, including putting on the uniform - and you can see in her face she really believed that she was, she was pretty scary when she stormed out into the audience screaming at people, I'm just glad she didn't have a gun as the real police do in Amsterdam, that could have been a bit too dramatic!!
Christina was convinced that she was a fire officer (she's got to be the best looking fire fighter I've ever seen) and she was frantically running into the audience trying to put out the cigarette lighters which Rinke had asked everyone to light up.
Viktor - I'm not actually sure what Victor was convinced that he was, some kind of a religious person I think, but whatever it was - he was convinced. Rinke said something to him, and the next thing Uri knew Victor was quite violently attending to Uri's head, I think judging from the music he was lead to believe Uri was possessed & needed exorcising - Uri told me after that he wasn't at all pretending, and that it actually hurt his eye which was already healing from a diving accident a week or so previous.
Robert was probably the funniest, he believed he was a dance coach - he was wearing a pink tutu which judging by it's size, had been picked out for Babette not for Robert, which just added to the comedy. Again, as he was strutting his stuff & encouraging the other three to dance, he was either a fantastic actor or he completely believed that he was a dance coach, and actually he wasn't that bad at all!
Finally Rinke had them all involved in the last sequence, which was the music to The Full Monty, and the strip tease dance. Very funny & entertaining ending to a fantastic performance. The audience, and Uri, were in stitches.
Last but not least - was Andrew Melia, (AKA ... I can't say here for technical reasons, but you'll soon find out if you google Andrew Melia)
I was quite happy about this one, because of the fact that Andrew Melia is from the UK (The West Midlands I believe) , so finally I'd be able to understand what a performer is saying all the way through.
This performance once again was a real shift in dynamic from the last performance, I did wonder about the decision to put two hypnotism acts back to back - but as soon as it started I realized that this was in a completely different place.
This was DARK! Still funny, but a dark humour in comparison to the Rinke's far more lighter level of humour. Andrew's persona in this act is almost sadistic, and he pulled it off brilliantly.
Patty & Viktor were again picked to participate, and I can completely understand the look of dismay on Patty's face as they're sat wearing full waterproofs. Although I'm sure she was glad that this was the final act, as she was immaculately turned out - and she was obviously about to get very messy!
The act started with some really strange but impressive displays of being able to control the movements of Patty & Viktor with his hands, without touching them. It then led to the two of them being convinced they were taking part into some ridiculous humiliating game show, involving spinning themselves in chairs & then jumping into a ball pool - he then asks Viktor to think of a TV show & then correctly guesses what he was thinking of,
The final part of the performance involved Patty & Victor having to try to guess out of a series of concealed pictures which one was Andrew Melia's photograph, each time they get it wrong they get completely covered in all sorts of gunk & feathers. At the end, they're told if they get the last one wrong, the audience will get punished with the same fate instead. This lead to everyone looking up, and thinking "Naaaa, he can't be serious...."
He was serious, they got it wrong & the audience got covered! Luckily though the audience was spared the wet stuff, and it was the feathers they were covered in - I was lucky enough to be sitting right at the front so I avoided the punishment, phew! There was a serious amount of feathers, or whatever they were, dispatched onto the heads of the audience - just another one of the many things the crew had to sort out that day, and which they did perfectly. Finally he revealed the last photo was the photo of the man behind the makeup, Andrew Melia.
So that was it, all the performances done - and it was time for telephone votes to be counted & verified, and the winner - Andrew Melia!
I couldn't have called it, and personally I would have been happy for any of them to win, as they were all incredible performances.
But what a night! The audience must have all gone home feeling entertained, amazed, enthralled, and probably quite tired after taking in such an invigorating set of performances - I know I did!
It didn't stop there for Uri though, then came what felt like about 2 hours of press photographers getting their photo's for the newspapers, and an influx of people wanting his autograph, and a few more items of cutlery produced to be bent.
When eventually back into the dressing room, it continued, while Uri was in the process of getting changed back into his more comfortable jeans & Tshirt, there were more knocks at the door, more spoons to bend, more autographs to sign, and Uri amazed me as he always does, by his stamina & his refusal to ever let anyone down.
In fact, the last person who asked him to bend a spoon was actually the very first time I've seen Uri forced into not being able to deliver, and this was because the spoon which was produced was probably one of the thickest & toughest spoons you can imagine. Given the long day & how much energy he'd used, Uri just didn't think he would have the energy to do it, and I could see that Uri was far more disappointed about this than the young lady who'd approached him with the mighty spoon.
Luckily, one of the contestants who hadn't quite made the final, Fernando, was walking through the corridor, heard this - and said that he could bend the spoon, as he'd not been exerting much mental energy that night. He took the spoon, held it by the bowl, focused on it - and the handle of the spoon rose by itself to the delight of the owner of the spoon, and everyone else watching. Fernando & Uri both autographed the spoon, and the youngster got even more than they had asked for, and understandably walked away looking very happy!
The same can certainly be said for me!
I went to Amsterdam expecting to experience something very interesting & entertaining, but I wasn't quite expecting to be as spellbound and absorbed by the show as I was. I wasn't expecting acts quite as amazing as those that I was fortunate enough to witness, and I hadn't bargained for just how extraordinarily well put together the whole show was.
Is there to be a 4th series? I'm not sure, because I'm not sure how many mentalists there are in one country, it's not like wannabe singers, we all know many people who can sing or who think they can - but how many people do you know who can pull off mind-blowing performances of mentalism?
But I can tell you this - the people of Amsterdam will be hoping so, and if there isn't - then there will be thousands of people in the Netherlands who will miss out on experiencing being in the audience of such an original & exciting show.
Everyone in the UK I've described the show to have asked the question "Why is it not on in the UK yet?" or "when is it on in the UK" and I don't know the answer either of these questions, but what I do know, is that there has never been a show quite like The Next Uri Geller in the UK, and it would dwarf many of the live TV shows we're used to seeing in the UK. In fact once the UK public has experienced the drama, the thrill & the excitement of this TV show, I don't think we will see other more standard live TV shows in the same light again by contrast, it could literally set new standards for how much we expect to be entertained by live weekly TV shows - which may answer the question of why the show isn't yet on in the UK....
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- Uri is a judge on "la grande magia the illusionist" Channel 5, Italy - Channel 5 Italy. 11th, 17th, 24th, 31st January 2013
- Dougstephan.com, Every Tuesday. Listen Online at 13:00 GMT - Listen to Uri on Doug Stephan's Good Day Radio Show