I TALK TO Keith Barry

Saturday night sees a very different type of gameshow launch on ITV, and it's called You're Back In The Room.

Hosted by Phillip Schofield each week will see a team of five strangers take on apparently simple challenges to win money, the twist being that each of these contestants have been hypnotised, as the title would suggest.

I know he's a master of many things, but even Phillip Schofield draws the line at hypnotising people, instead he's recruited the help of professional hypnotist Keith Barry, who I caught up with earlier today for a chat about the new series. Here's what he had to say...

First of all tell me a bit about yourself and how you got to where you are today?

Well professionally I guess I'm known as a mentalist or a hypnotist, but I started off doing magic when I was four/five from a Paul Daniels magic set, and when I was 14 that's when I really started to take magic seriously. And then I started to learn hypnosis when I was 14 and then I studied Psychology in college and that's when I started to mix psychology with my magic and my hypnotism, and I've been a full-time entertainer since I was 23... so 15 years now!

So what is You're Back In The Room all about? How would you best describe it?

It's a hypnosis gameshow, so the idea is really, for me to make it difficult for the contestants to win the money. We put very simple games in place and then I hypnotise them to make it difficult for them to play those games... not impossible, but different.

So when they're under pressure, by putting these commands or these gestures into their subconscious minds, it makes it really really difficult for them to fight through them and win the money. So it's an interesting conflict in their brain. On the one side they're hypnotised, while on the other side of their brain they actually really want to win the money.

Where did the idea for You're Back In The Room come from? Did you go to ITV with it as an idea, or did they come to you?

Well it's a production company called Tuesday's Child, so it's their baby if you like. They came up with the format, and then I obviously assisted them with making it practical, and making it work. But it's a Tuesday's Child format and they attached me and Phillip Schofield to it you know

What's it been like working with Phillip Schofield?

Brilliant! You know, I think the most important thing for someone like me, is to have a presenter who really believes in the process.

Obviously there are a lot of sceptics out there, who for whatever reason don't believe in hypnosis, but if you ever talk to Phillip Schofield, he's 100% a believer in hypnosis and a 100% believer in the hypnotic process that I use on these people.

Because of that, it was just really relaxed for me and I got to have a blast with him, and also on stage, when people are hypnotised, I got to wind him up because I got contestants to do things to him that he wasn't really expecting.

How are the contestants picked for the show? Is there quite a long process? Can anyone be hypnotised?

Tuesday's Child just put out an advert for people to apply to be on a gameshow involving hypnosis, so from that I then went and tested some of those people for their susceptibility for hypnosis. Obviously to make sure that people could go into hypnosis before the show.

So the people who I thought were most susceptible, they're the people that have in essence, ended up on the show. Anyone can be hypnotised, and everybody has the ability to fall into trance, but there are just different levels of susceptibility, and obviously for a gameshow such as this, I needed people who were highly susceptible to hypnosis, and I;m very open about that process. I'm not trying to hide anything. These people, yes I've met them before, and they were hypnotised backstage on the show also.

So before they go out, I do about a half an hour hypnotic induction, and we show a small portion of that. But we can't show very much of that, because the 1952 Hypnosis Act, prevents me from hypnotising people on camera. It's actually illegal to hypnotise people on camera! I'd probably be arrested weirdly enough!

I'm pretty sure that a lot of people sitting at home on Saturday night won't believe it. They'll think the contestants are actors, that hypnosis isn't real. What would you say to them?

Yeah, you're always going to get people like that. I think the answer is three-fold really, anyone could have applied to be on the show, from any walks of life, and these people are from all walks of life! None of them are stooges, they're all genuinely hypnotised, and I think the real way you can see that, is that in some portions of the show they're actually throwing money away... I'm not talking £10 or £20, I'm talking thousands of pounds - they wouldn't be doing that if they weren't really genuinely hypnotised.

And for people who are still sceptical of that, the only way really to prove that what I'm doing is real, is to come and see it live themselves. I am performing live here in the UK for the first time ever towards the end of the year, in September and October. Sceptics, non-believers, whoever, are more than welcome to come and get up on stage. I invite whoever I want to come up on stage to witness hypnosis first hand, and then that's how you really know.

Do you have a favourite moment from the four episodes?

I think one of the moments that stands out in my mind... and will perhaps be the moment sceptics go - "Oh OK... well that's just fucking unbelievable!"

There's a girl who has a genuine fear of snakes, and we're playing a game based on I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here! and we had a box full of snakes which I asked her to put her head into, and of course there's no way she's going to do it because she's got a real, genuine phobia of snakes, so she wouldn't do it.

But then I hypnotised her into believing these snakes were her favourite celebrities and that she wanted to have a chat with them, so immediately she stuck her head in the box and just started chatting to about 30 snakes! She had no problem, she was laughing and smiling. A transition such s that is quite compelling to watch you know.

Who are you hoping will watch the show?

It's absolutely a light-hearted fun family show. I mean that's really what it is. It doesn't take itself too seriously, it's not a serious show, it's a laugh-a-minute hypnotic show and it's for the family. And that's why ITV themselves have decided to put it out at 8 o'clock on a Saturday night. You can allow your kids to watch it. There's nothing risqué in it, so honestly I think it's for all age brackets... from six years all the way up to ninety years of age!

And finally, where do you see the show going next?

Well I'd like to extend the series, because four is quite short, but I think that's just because it's a new format, and obviously ITV want to see how it does. But hopefully I'd imagine if it does well, immediately they'll order more. I think for me, I'd like to do as many as possible really. I'd like to do six or ten more, and then after that I'd love to do a celebrity special for sure.

There are celebrities in every episode this series, but they're not hypnotised. I think it'll be absolutely hilarious to get some of your high end top celebrities here in the UK to do crazy and outlandish things they wouldn't ordinarily do!

You're Back In The Room begins Saturday 14th March at 8:20pm on ITV