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I TALK TO Ben Hanlin

"All the reactions you see are 100% genuine. There are no actors or stooges. All the people you're about to see have been well and truly tricked." - That's the opening line to Tricked, ITV2's new hidden camera/magic/prank show fronted by 27 year old magician Ben Hanlin.

Sure, it's a line we've heard time and time again, but having watched the first episode in the series I can vouch for this. From Michelle Heaton losing her phone to an unsuspecting member of the public having her card cut up there is NOTHING fake about these reactions.

Throughout the series Ben conjures up some mischief, as unsuspecting celebrities and members of the public alike get tricked by his own special brand of hidden camera magic. Some of the celebrities include Arg and Diags from TOWIE, Helen Flanagan, Joe Swash, Christine Bleakley, Stacey Solomon, Robbie Savage and Emma Willis. I wanted to find out a little bit more about Tricked, so I caught up with the man himself, Ben Hanlin, to find out a little more...

First of all, let's start with a bit about you. Here you are, you've got your own show on ITV2, how did it all come about? Tell us a bit about yourself...

(Laughs) From Birmingham, 27, Magician. I've been doing magic for about 15 years, and started magic back in the classroom for a bit of fun and eventually managed to turn it into a bit of a job. About two-and-a-half/three years ago I started making YouTube videos, on Magic Boy TV, (laughs) - get that in early! The videos started with me and my friend basically saying that social media had changed the way in which celebrities were, and I believed as a completely unknown person that I could track down and find any celebrity in the world, within two days, and do a trick in front of them.

My mate disagreed, so we made a bet, and we ended up using Twitter and Facebook to find celebrities, and the first person we found was Fearne Cotton. Twelve hours later I ended up stood in front of her doing a magic trick to her. We made this video, people loved it, so we made a few more, the next person we got was Michael McIntyre, I got him to stop his car whilst he was driving it, I did a trick through his car window. And we did about eight or nine of these and for the last one we went to LA to try and find Britney Spears and find as many celebrities as we could!

We ended up finding Micky Rourke, Quentin Tarantino, Jamie Foxx and basically it was me going around, being a bit odd and doing magic really.

Then ITV started seeing what I was doing and went - "Oh, you approach magic from a slightly different angle, and you seem not be doing just the normal thing. Fancy making a telly show?" So I had a couple of ideas and then went, yep let's do this - which ended up being Tricked. It allows me to do magic in my own kind of style, a bit of fun and do it with a slightly different approach really.

How would you best describe Tricked then? Is it a magic show? Is it a hidden camera show? Is it both?

It is definitely both. It's a hidden camera, wind-up prank show - and that's the big difference. You get hidden camera shows and you get magic shows - the thing that really sets it apart are the pranks. Normally when you do a magic trick, you expect at the end of it people to go - "Wow! That's amazing, you're brilliant." Well, what we do, my goal and I guess my sad sense of humour - I love to wind people up. I love to get under their skin, have a bit of fun with them and being a magician I can do things that other people can't do.

I can take your credit card and chop it up, and then you can shout at me for it, and then being a magician I can magically put it back together and then you'll go - "What? What the hell's going on?" You get a different reaction that feels completely real, and feels completely different to the way in which you'd react to a normal trick. Then when you explain what you've been doing, and that you're a magician, people think it's great. So that's the essence of the show - using magic to create pranks that can't normally be done.

You perform these pranks to celebrities and the general public is that right?

Yes, so the good about this show is that it's very fast-paced. You've got some tricks to the public that are very quick, and then you've got some bigger tricks which are on quite a big scale. We've done things on the edge of cliffs, we've done things with expensive cars we've done things on a speedboat on the Thames.

So yeah, you do your bigger things with celebrities and the you've got also some really fun things with members of the public. It's quite nice because as a show there are lots of different things to see.

You say that you love to wind-up people. Which celebrity got wound up the best?

A lot of them were pretty good but the one that springs to mind - Helen Flanagan was great. I made her think that she'd just seen a ghost and she was shaking, like in complete shock.

Then I did some more magic and then we revealed to her and her reaction was brilliant. Also the guys from man-band Blue, me and Simon (from the band) played a really big trick on the other three members on the edge of a Cliff in Dorset and to cut a long story short, they thought that he was about to be in serious trouble.

So they reacted to that and then we had a bit of fun with them. I don't want to give too much away but the way in which they reacted - and I've been doing magic for well over a decade - I've never seen anybody react to a magic trick the way they did.

Who's on your wish-list then? Which celebrities would you love to trick?

You know who'd be great? One Direction. Imagine if you can use magic to convince Harry Styles you've shaved somebody's hair off - it'd be amazing! (Laughs). Simon Cowell would be a good one.

I don't know... it'd be great to get somebody - and this is a complete wish-list - someone epic like Brad Pitt or Tom Cruise, someone on that scale. Just because they're so used to being in control, and looking cool - it'd be interesting to see what happens if you take them out of that.

Are you a bit worried that if Tricked comes back for a second series, people will begin to recognise you and some of the tricks won't quite go to plan?

Well yeah, they've already said that - that if there is a second series it might be difficult. But you know what? A) I think that's a good problem to have, and B) There are ways in which I can disguise it, you can go to different countries, you can wear disguises... so I'm pretty sure that there will still be a lot of people to trick even in the second series.

Finally, what's been your favourite prank of the series? Is it the one with Blue?

Yeah, Blue was great, Blue was a really really good one. I tell you who was really good actually - and that was Rylan in a lift! Rylan was great. What's interesting is that there are lots of different stories in there.

So you'll get something that's quite massive, like the caracvan one, or you'll do something small in a shop where you cut someone's credit card up or I convince Christine Bleakley and Michelle Heaton to give me their phone numbers. Some touch on scariness, some touch on comedy, some touch on romance - so they're all fun to do because they all made me laugh in a different way.

Tricked begins Thursday at 9pm on ITV2


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