Ghost Towns


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Derek Acorah’s Ghost Towns – Live.

Doorstep Divination

The idea behind this ‘doorstep divination’ nonsense is that Derek Acorah is drawn to a particular house using his psychic powers. However just to help out, LivingTV suggested fans of the show should put a picture of Derek in their window. I imagine they felt this was more likely to bring positive results rather than relying too heavily on Derek’s ‘abilities’. But just to be absolutely sure Daniella Westbrook gives him a hint. Picture the scene, Derek and Daniella are chatting in the Acorah picturestreet and puffing away on cigarettes whilst the crew are getting ready.

Daniella: So we're just gonna look up the street ... to see what yer feeling, yeah? Personally if it was me I'd say that one there, that's got the picture in the window of you.....  That 'd be really helpful.

Both laugh

Derek: Won't they see it?

Daniella: No, no, no...  Alright?

Thus having agreed on which house Derek’s insight will guide him to they knock on the door. Success!

The following is the entire reading. It’s awful even by Derek’s standards. I have put any comments Derek makes to his imaginary friends in square brackets [Hi Sam!] and my own observations are in blue.

DA: “Since I’ve walked in, and in actual fact whilst I was standing outside I was so pleased I became aware okay of three energies, three spirit people, three spirit energies. Two of them are ladies and one of a gentleman.”

Actually he was just chatting away to Daniella and having a coffee.

“Now what I want to say, [thank you Sam just give me that link]. Erm, what I want to say is one of the lovely ladies, I’m very aware, would have passed over. I know there was a blood condition. I know she was hospitalised. When I say that I say that humbly, that’s what I’m being shown and told. Some kind of blood condition that caused her to erm er be laying in hospital conditions.

“I feel that she was, administered um, some kind of drugs to combat what I feel was a cancer condition with her.”

Okay let’s translate that from Acorah-speak. Derek is saying an unnamed woman died of cancer in a hospital. I therefore assume the “blood condition” was leukaemia. We don’t know when this happened, how old she was or what her name was (is). In fact we know sod all that would help identify her.

Debbie: (indistinct)

“That’s for certain. And with this lady I feel there was also, if you don’t mind me saying, just describing. I feel body weight loss with her greatly. And I know family members were around her and you know it’s like she said towards the end she was in and out of herself. In other words she wasn’t conscious all the time. And it was, she could hear you round her, she could hear a… what was spoken. She could hear you talking.”

Okay let’s pause for some reflection. This ‘lost body weight’ before she died: among numerous possible symptoms of leukaemia weight loss is indeed one. Derek does make one specific comment that helps us narrow things down a little. He says, “She could hear you talking.” Thus we can assume Debbie at least visited the woman during her time in “hospital conditions”. As to the comments about hearing, as we are not informed what was actually said, this provides us with no further useful information.

“And I know she was aware of two family members either side of this bed leaning over talking to her. She, she, remembered this feeling of her hair being, er, tidied and doing this (Derek strokes his own face) around her face. She remembers all this and she is thanking you.”

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Note: “….thanking you.”

“She wants you to know she could hear what you were saying er she’s fine, she’s come from the world of spirit, she’s in a lovely place.”

Once again the reference is clearly aimed at Debbie.

“Oh um, this lady’s talking about, [thank you Sam] now whether that’s her name… no she’s talking about another lady called Mary. Who was Mary?”

So this lady who doesn’t seem to want to tell us her own name, which would certainly help Debbie identify her, manages to trot out someone else’s. Derek asks (presumably because he doesn’t actually have a clue) “Who was Mary?” which would imply Mary has passed on. Debbie now enlightens us.

Debbie: “Do you know my friend that’s here tonight has just lost her mother and her sister is Mary.”

So Debbie manages to make things fit, but this doesn’t quite ring true. For a start Derek said it referred to Debbie, not her friend. Did her friend’s mother die of a blood condition etc? We’ll never know. ‘Mary’ was referred to in the passed tense but the ‘Mary’ Debbie talks about is still alive. Of course Derek now has a bigger problem, he can’t risk giving a reading on TV to someone who has only recently lost their mother. Definitely not, “for entertainment purposes only”. So rather than verify any of the generalised drivel he’s been spouting he has to quickly lose the anonymous woman and move on.

DA: “Well can I just say this is what she’s giving me, also the man, okay he’s coming forward here now. And this man I’ll describe to you.”

No don’t describe him Derek just tell us who he is and what relationship he has to Debbie.

“Would have stood in height about five foot ten, around that height. A man please that wasn’t what we call…he was bonnie, he had a bit of meat on his bones. And you know he’s quite a strong looking man. Most (Derek clutches his own face) I really impressed with this. If you looked at him, he’s looking at you erm, the colouration to his cheeks here were not red but there was always colour there and he had a very, very, very strong smile.”

You just can’t help admire the way Derek whittles down the number of people this could be to just a few million.

“But I feel there was a weakness in his eyes when I say he probably wore glasses that were quite strong. And he was, I feel he wants me to say, he, although he had to wear the glasses he was absolutely fed up with them. Didn’t like wearing them. On and off, on and off ”

At this point, possibly realising that he was spouting nonsense, he started to become animated and theatrical presumably in the hope that this will make up for the lack of relevance.

“…and he liked nothing better to sit in a chair and read his paper and not be bothered by anyone. In other words you know he used to, I feel, maybe his wife used to shout at him say, ‘Come on will you, get dressed properly’ and you know and he’s just laid back, ‘Oh I’ll do it, I’ll do it, I’ll do it”.

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Complete poppycock. This is simply a made up story that could apply to just about any family in the UK and beyond. He can reconstruct actual pieces of conversation, tell us the strength of his eyes and yet still not come up with a name or explain what the relationship is to Debbie. Why this isn’t entirely transparent to Acorah’s devoted masses I have no idea.

“Um I also um, oh this other spirit lady, I’ll get his name I hope very shortly. This other spirit lady erm, would have passed to the world of spirit with something to do with like a haemorrhage? (phrased as a question), a haemorrhage. Now I, a haem...., It could be a dual haemorrhage. Something here (touches his temples) and also haemorrhage elsewhere towards the end. And I feel very, very, very, strong with her as well but I get, she walks around, she walks around (Acorah looks like he’s thinking). She actually walks around this home. She comes in visitation, er. Can you remember also Lilly?”

Two questions, one about the cause of death and one about a name. All Acorah has told us is that he is speaking to a dead woman, no age, no description (not even a general one). Unless he is a complete idiot he knows full well that a haemorrhage in the brain would be referred to as a stroke. What about the other haemorrhage? And what does he mean by, “Can you remember also Lilly?” It is entirely bloody obvious to me that he’s just throwing out a random name in the hope it may fit somewhere. If she turned around now and said her dead grandmother was called Lilly devoted fans would hail this as further convincing proof that he was communicating with the dead. He isn’t, and this is a sham, or, if you prefer Livingtv’s definition ‘entertainment’.

Debbie responds: “No”

DA: “Okay if it’s not Lilly it’ll be Lillian. Wasn’t she linked to one of your aunts?

Debbie: “No.”

DA: “Lillian.”

Debbie: “I can’t think of anybody to be honest.”

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Any particular aunt? So when Derek says “it’ll be Lillian” he is in fact just plain wrong. If poor Debbie digs deep into her family history and discovers that her Grandmother’s best friend at school had grown lilies in her back garden that would probably do for Derek.

And to all those who write to me telling me that Derek is a gifted medium please make a note. You see you just have to chuck out a name and let the mark rack their brains to make a connection. That’s all you need to know to understand what is really happening here. Is Derek more right than would expected by chance? Of course not. If he really did have some connection with the dead he would a) be right more often and b) be able to give more information – more meaningful information. But hey if you are determined to go on believing don’t let me stop you.

DA: “That’s okay. That’s alright, it’ll probably come back to you in a minute”

It didn’t and was just forgotten.

DA: “But I also want to say to you erm that John is also coming in. John? No okay John might be Jack.”

Stating the obvious for a moment ‘John’ is just about as general a name as you can get but when it doesn’t actually mean anything to Debbie he takes a second shot by throwing in ‘Jack’ as well. What exactly does he mean by “coming in”? I sort of assume that he means John/Jack managed to get Sam’s attention on the ‘other side’ but if Debbie says something like her brother (who we’ll say is alive) is called Jack, Acorah can respond by saying something like, “They’re telling me about Jack…blah, blah, blah.”.

Debbie: “Right.” (but doesn’t sound too sure)

DA: “Jack. Okay. And he’s coming in. They give me the impression there’s a child within the family that they are aware, that, this child…. [okay]… this child is um. Normally talk about schooling. Erm you I feel they are trying to direct it at you. You’ve done a good job over trying to help the child erm, not overcome overcome obstacles but to help the child do better.”

What happened to Jack who was “coming in”? Later when the actual reading is finished Debbie says she tought Jack referred to her Grandfather - but he's still alive! Next to Acorah is what appears to be the picture of a young girl. I wonder if he has noticed it? He starts talking about an unidentified ‘child’, options are left open as to the actual relationship by simply saying she is “within the family”. Helping a child “do better” is not exactly laser like precision either.

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Debbie: “Right.”

DA: “Now they tell me you should understand this. Erm it’s like as if, not learning difficult…. But it’s something. How can I put it?”

What does he mean “How can I put it?” I thought he was the medium not the editor.

Daniella: “They’re finding it hard at school.”

Daniella digs him out of an awkward hole. Having started this line of conversation he didn’t quite know where to go with it without being potentially insulting the child in question. If Debbie had a son or daughter who had severe learning difficulties there may have been embarrassment all round. In fact after the reading Debbie says she sometimes has trouble getting her little girl off to school. I guess as Jack is still alive he might well know that anyway.

DA: “Yes. Okay”

Debbie: “Yeah”

DA: “And there’s the side of nature of the child okay, that you had to like calm down. Make this child focus and you loved… this will probably be a girl child okay?"

Debbie: Nods

DA: “Not a male. And like a daughter love, and it’s like [yep, yep] I’ve got a very protective Grandmother.”

The “girl child” is mentioned which rather leaves the comment, “not a male” somewhat redundant. He still errs on the side of caution by saying, “daughter love”. I think we can all safely assume that the girl is someone’s daughter what we would like to know is her name?

Debbie: Laughs

At this point Derek launches into theatrical mode again.

DA: “She comes in here and it’s like she’s laying the law down here with me as if to say, ‘Now listen (finger wagging for emphasis) this is the way she was and this is the way she is now presently.’”

“It’s like, ‘Everyone of you better listen to me’ and she spoke with her hands (more finger wagging), ‘And woe betide you if…’ even if it was a man she’d say this sort of attitude okay. But a very kindred heart.”

Sorry what? I don’t have a clue what he’s on about. This silly over-acted impersonation is meaningless. I have found though that this is an essential part of Acorah’s technique. It’s what makes him different from others in the field. That and his even dafter ‘possessions’. He also has his own way of butchering the English language so that despite using a lot of words he doesn’t really say very much at all. What is he talking about ‘kindred heart’? Was her heart related to Debbie in some way?

“Now I feel with her she’s saying these words, her legs now she can kick them high like a Tiller girl. Because I know there was an effect with her legs okay. Erm and also her back. For some reason, her back comes in there. But she’s fit and well now, in her spirit body. But she’s come to you in your sleep. You got a noise I’m being told, and I hope you don’t mind me saying this (hands briefly strike a grovelling pleading pose) you got a noise so, so many times because what she’s tried to do is come to you in the sleep, come into this home on a re…gu…lar basis. Did you? Forgive me. Did you have a dog in this home that had to be put to sleep?”

The anonymous woman has better legs now. That’s nice. Her “back comes in” as well, presumably following her legs. Good of her to drop by and tell us. Acorah likes to portray this Never-NeverLand quality of the afterlife. This doggy, does it have a name? Maybe a breed? Small? Big? Alas it’s just a general sort of dog.

Debbie: “No but…”

DA: “You understand the dog being put to sleep?”

Debbie: “I do.”

DA: “Well he’s with them over there. Running the legs off them, okay? They’re fed up, they haven’t got the energy the dog’s got now, okay?”

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We can infer then that animals also have an afterlife. I wonder if you can still train dogs to do tricks when they are dead? Given all eternity there should be some very clever spirit pooches around by now. What about lions and tigers and bears oh my? The place must be heaving with every known species. Are there dinosaurs? My daughter’s gerbil died recently, I wonder if he has a little spirit cage?

DA: “[What? Yeah] And there’s also um, don’t take this the wrong way but they make me aware okay that when they come in visitation one time they made something go wrong with the WC or the toilet? Do you understand this?”

Debbie: “I’m not sure to be honest….”

DA: “What was going on…? I don’t want this to sound like, but something to do with the toilet.”

Just when you thought Derek Acorah couldn’t say anything more ridiculous he manages to excel himself. I’m sure Debbie finds it very reassuring to be told that ghosts are visiting her home and having a look in the toilet while they’re there. Something to think about next time she uses it.

Debbie: “Right.”

DA: “In the toilet. Something that was going on… Was there unusual water flow, something to do with the water with the toilet?”


Debbie: “Yes, yes.”

DA: “Well they’re awful sorry about it, because they made it happen when they come in visitation. Okay”

Debbie: Giggling.

Not only do they watch you in the loo but they mess about with the “water flow”. I think Debbie is within her rights to a) tell these unknown wraiths to stop spying on her and b) leave her toilet damn well alone.

DA: “And also… I got to.. sorry for pointing, I just get energised with it.”

Indeed Derek gets all worked up again.

Daniella: “He’s so excited…”

DA: “Walking up the stairs, going up the stairs going bom, bom, bom. Who heard the footsteps?”

Debbie: slight laugh, “Oh me actually. I often think I’ve heard things.”

DA: “You thought it was your imagination.”

Debbie: “Yeah. I think I heard things.”

As far as I can tell Debbie lives in a semi-detached home and so the chances of hearing someone going up stairs in the house next door are quite high.

DA: “It’s not your imagination. Honestly. It’s not. It really isn’t. Ann wants to be remembered. Ann’s coming in (more theatrics), ‘You say my name! I’m Ann. It’s great to be back! It’s great to be back! I can breathe now properly’, she’s shouting. She can breathe properly, so that must mean a great deal to her. [What? Yeah. Who? Yeah] They’re talking about Paul. Who is Paul? Young Paul. Living. Physical.”

Ann can breathe now? So we still have to breathe in the afterlife. Why? What happens when you hold your breath for 15 minutes? And after Ann’s brief appearance the name Paul is thrown out. But despite the terrific description (young, physical and living) Debbie can’t place him. No ‘John’ and now no ‘Paul’.

Debbie: “No…”

DA: “They’re not fussy on the name Paul.”


Debbie: “Oh right.”

DA: “Check that out.”

Debbie: “I will do.”

DA: “There’s someone…”

Debbie: I’m sure there’ll be people ring me telling me things ”

DA: “Watch for this okay. It looks as though they're saying Paul is going about it the wrong way. Paul is going about it the wrong way.I’ve been told by one of the lovely ladies here that your fridge is going on the blink.”

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I’m gutted. I didn’t realise the message was so serious. Paul’s going about it the wrong way. Oh no! Is he trying to carry out a do-it-yourself heart transplant or do they mean the way he changes the tyre on his bicycle? Who knows?

Then Derek drops another bombshell – the fridge is on the blink! Oh yeah and how does the lovely lady know? She probably caused it, she’s got form after all. I haven’t forgotten about the vandalism of the toilet.

Debbie: “That’s more than likely true.”

DA: “They’re saying (“They’re saying”. It was just the lovely lady a minute ago) ‘check the fridge, it’s gonna go on ya girl’. That’s what they’re saying okay. [What? Yeah I will. Yes. They exercise what? I don't want to embarrass] Erm okay. I’ve got to tell you this, that they’re saying it to me very clearly, I’ve got to say to you. The exercise contrption or machine (cough) that you got, or want, they’re saying (cough) don’t just look at it or think about it, go and do it will you. Don’t be putting it off. Sorry.”

I’m desperate to know what this contraption actually is that they are ‘clearly’ talking to Derek about. Once again we find they are checking up on Debbie and telling her how she should live her life. If I discovered that my relatives had come into my house just to have a nose around I would not be best pleased. The fact that they are dead, somehow doesn’t made it more acceptable. Notice Derek equivocation, “The exercise contraption or machine that you got, or want…

Debbie: It's very right. I’ve got one in my bedroom. I never use it.

DA: “Well use it because they’re fed up with coming in and seeing it lying dormant there, and you’ll get the results.”

Everyone is chuckling merrily at those wacky spirits but suddenly Derek switches to his serious voice.

DA: “[What? Okay, thank you] I’m also getting a man who, he’s not loud, he’s not shouting but he’s just said, ‘please I want to be remembered’. I’ll call him William, his true name’s Bill.”

Debbie: ?

DA: “He was an uncle of yours. Think back.”

Debbie: “Well I don’t know. The whole of my father’s family I’ve never met. So it could be anyone from that side.”

Doesn’t look like poor old Bill will be remembered after all. He can join the list of unknowns along with John, Jack & Paul. Different names and the one thing they have in common is that Debbie has never heard of them. How unlucky can a medium be?

DA: “Okay well he’s just said ‘uncle’…Check on that side. [Er alright. Thank you] And there’s also going back a lovely babe child that was carried and was lost to the world of spirit. The child would now be [How old? Thank you, I can hear you] um the child now would be probably around the 9, 10th, 11th year.”

I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve heard mediums trot this out. Potentially this has the power to move a woman to tears. It is probably one of the most insensitive things a person could say and a appears to be no more than a callous attempt at the manipulation of a potentially vulnerable person. Thankfully Acorah is as inaccurate here as has been with the rest of the reading. Despite confirming he can hear he can't give the exact age. If the child is growing up in 'the spirit world' what happens when it reaches puberty? Do spiritual hormones kick in?

At this point Daniella says they are done but while they are all packing up Derek still prattles on about the “babe” child.

After the reading, but before the studio interview, Derek asks Debbie if she understood everything. Debbie's reply: "A lot of it I did understand. Some of it didn't ring true..." Damned by faint praise.

Finally we get the summing up in which Debbie is prompted to say what a wonderful experience it’s all been.

Unbelievably the woman in the studio begins by saying to Debbie,

“Now that looked like you recognised quite a few things in Derek’s reading. What were the sort of things you could relate to?”

Debbie mentions her friend’s mother who died of cancer and her sister being called Mary. Not surprisingly she has forgotten that Acorah asked “who was Mary” and talked about a blood condition and not just cancer.

In a further attempt to make Derek sound vaguely credible she is asked,

“How did it make you feel when he got it so right?”

Daniella asks who Ann was and Debbie says it was her cousin who died 10 years ago. She is not asked about Ann’s ‘breathing difficulties’ or whether Derek’s theatrics were a fair representation of her cousin.

The summing up

Well let’s see just how accurate Derek (and Sam) were;

We started off with 3 spirit energies, 2 ladies and 1 man. One lady was thought to be Debbie’s friend’s Mum but the only reason to draw this conclusion is that she died of cancer. She had no real connection with Debbie, who was after all, the person having the reading. The name ‘Mary’ happens to be her friend’s sister but all Derek did was throw out the name and let Debbie come up with the connection.

Next the man “comes forward”. This was the 5 foot 10 inch man with glasses and a strong smile. Despite this generality it apparently meant nothing to Debbie.

Then we have the other lady with the “dual haemorrhage” who comes in “visitation” chiming in. Doesn’t register at all.

Lilly or Lillian is suggested and rejected.

‘John’ misses but there seems to be a vague acceptance of ‘Jack’. When Jack “comes in” all he does is mention the child who doesn’t have learning difficulties and is a girl - not a male. The picture of a girl is right next to Derek but he never commits himself to the actual relationship with Debbie.

Following on from the girl child story we are introduced to the protective Grandmother. Despite the finger wagging, Derek’s meaningless characterisation and the new legs she apparently meant nothing to Debbie.

After finding out that she visits Debbie in her sleep a dog is mentioned. Again no reaction from Debbie but she at least knows of a dog that was put to sleep. The point of this questioning by Derek is to give her the exciting news that the dog is running around in the afterlife.

Then we have the phantoms who spy on Debbie, make noises on the stairs and muck about with her toilet, soon followed by Paul who means nothing but we discover that her fridge is due to go on the blink.

After learning that she doesn’t exercise enough highly forgettable Uncle Bill drops by.

Finally we have the “child” lost in pregnancy which has no meaning or relevance.

So tell us again Debbie again, “How did it make you feel when he got it so right?”

Now there are two sites you must visit to understand the truth depth of this farce.

First read Randi's Commentary here.

Then spend time looking at the amazing video clips and commentary here

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