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I TALK TO Katherine Mills

This week sees a brand new show, and a brand new personality launch on UKTV's Watch channel. Her name is Katherine Mills and her show is called Katherine Mills: Mind Games.

The series sees Katherine combine her knowledge and skills in psychology and sociology, with her love of mind-reading and magic.

Having seen the first episode, Katherine's a very likeable character and her tricks will undoubtedly leave you feeling amazed and wondering - "How on earth did she know that?" as she demonstrates how she can predict what people will choose by using psychological sales tricks.

I recently caught up with Katherine to find out more about the series, what it's like knowing your show is about to launch on TV and how she feels about being compared to the likes of Dynamo and Derren Brown.

First things first, what is a psychological illusionist?

It basically means combining magic and psychology to create an interesting entertainment show. It's illusion and magic that gets into peoples psyche. You can tell the person about themselves, and influence people and predict the outcome of people's behaviour.

Tell us a bit more about the show then, will there be magic?

There's definitely elements of magic there, and magic is included in elements of the show, but we also tap into every day psychology. It's a combination of both those things and taken it into different places; a supermarket, a pregnancy class, and I've tried to encompass a whole range of people; from elderly couple to children, it's a real mixture.

Tell me a bit about your background then...

I've always been fascinated with human behaviour, and I've always gravitated towards studying psychology and sociology, I've social psychology - so all the kind of social sciences. I studied them over a 5-year period and I still read up on things now which I find interesting.I first became interested in magic when I was 14, and that's when I first time I became inspired by magic.But it wasn't until I left university that I decided I wanted to become a professional magician.

You're one of only a few women in the Magic Circle. Why do you think so few women are getting involved with Magic?

Yes that's right. I think there's a number of reasons for it actually. One of the main reasons is because they didn't let women into the Magic Circle until the nineties... it was really behind the times in terms of the rest of society. I think more girls are interested and getting into it now. I've certainly had girl coming up to me and asking how to get into it, so I think definitely times are changing.

I think magic is one of those strange sub cultures in society which has sort of been stuck in a timezone which isn't representative of the rest of society, but I think times are changing.

I joined four years ago now I think, and I didn't feel any prejudice at all. I had to jump through the same hoops as everyone else, so I don't think I received different treatment in that sense.

So how would you best describe Katherine Mills: Mind Games then? What can viewers expect?

I would say that viewers can expect an entertaining show which involves magic and everyday psychology, and bringing that into everyday people's lives.

In settings that hopefully they can relate to; relationships, mother and child relationships, marriage relationships, sisters, twin relationships. I think it's a real broad range of people in a broad range of places and I'm using my skills to try and amaze people.

How did you go about casting for the show? Are they random people form the street or did you have to cast for a certain type of person?

There's a mixture really, because one item in particular I wanted to explore the relationship between twins, so obviously just finding identical twins on the street... we'd be wondering around for a long time! (Laughs)

That was something that people in our team had to find and that would be prepared to appear in the show.

But they're not told anything beforehand, they're kept in the dark. It was so important that their reaction was genuine, and that's what viewers can see at home.

That's what I think makes the show entertaining. If people can't see people with real emotions then it doesn't make it very entertaining. So that was really important.

Tell me a bit more about what happened with the twin girls?

I wasted to explore the relationship between these twin girls and they were brilliant. I wanted to see if it was possible for them to pass a thought, a word, from one of them to another.

We did this at Greenwich cable cars, so I sent one of the girls to the other side of the Thames, and one of them stayed with me and I wanted both of them at the same to each get into a cable car and I wanted one of them to imagine herself screaming out this word to her sister, but just in her head. Not saying anything out aloud.

I was speaking to the other one via a walkie talkie and I said - "I want you now to imagine your sisters voice. Imagine what she's saying." - and just as they were approaching I got them to write on the word that one thought her sister was trying to pass on to her... and well... you can probably imagine the outcome, but I don't want to spoil it too much!

You mentioned earlier how you wanted to explore the relationship between twins, so how much of an input have you had into what makes the show and what doesn't?

It's been brilliant, I've had a lot of input. Most of the ideas have come from me. I've got a great creative team which is brilliant because I can bounce ideas around with them, but most of the stuff comes from me, and it's my ideas.

And how did the relationship with Watch come about? Did you approach them?

I personally didn't approach Watch, basically I'm part of a talent agency called Objective, who also have a production company who produce my show, so because I'm part of the talent agency there that's how Matt Crook, the series producer, met me. So we came up with the concept together and he then took it to Watch and the rest is history!

Many are going to compare your show to the likes of Dynamo and Derren Brown, so how is your show different do you think?

It's definitely different, it's very different. Say for example with Dynamo, Dynamo can walk over the Thames, he can put a phone in a bottle and he's brilliant, it's physical, it's visual.

Whereas what I do, it's to do with people's psychology, it's to do with getting inside people's heads, telling people personal information about them and I think people find that really exciting. The idea that you can tap into something that is so personal for somebody, it stays with people and it can be very unnerving. It can get under people's skin, but in a good way.

I hope people will find it entertaining, and I think in relation to Derren Brown, it's much more similar to what he does.

I feel massively flattered to be likened to him because he's been such a high inspiration for me and I think he's brilliant. But again, we're very different performers. Derren Brown has a very different performance style to me, we're very different people.

Have you seen the show yet? And are you nervous or excited about the show coming out?

I'd say I'm more excited. I don't feel nervous about it coming out at all. I feel like we worked really hard, and I'm just excited to see it on the TV and see what happens with it. I've seen it, but I'll probably watch it again with friends and family, and have celebratory champagne. So yes, I will be watching it, but I have seen it before.

Katherine Mills: Mind Games starts Thursday 2nd October at 9pm on Watch


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