My Cultural Life: David Meade

The mentalist and entertainer on pulling tricks, counting coins and having Banksy finish the bedroom

Who/what/where/why/when is David Meade?

I’m a university lecturer who has managed to inexplicably convince some very clever people to put me on TV.

What exactly is a mentalist?

First and foremost I’m an entertainer. I use a huge array of techniques to create the impression that I can read minds. The fact is, no one can, but that doesn't stop me telling people their pin numbers, bank account details, mother's maiden names, and every other secret in the book live on stage ever night!

Your BBC show, The David Meade Project, has been very well received. I assume you were able to foresee that in some way…

Making the show was, is, and probably always will be terrifying. The segments that I thought were by far the best generally went by unnoticed by the viewing audience. On the other hand, some other segments that I didn’t care for at all seem to have been insanely popular.

Certain types of genre television shows come and go, but your type is always in vogue. Why do you think that is?

The team and I try to make the show do two things. 1. Be baffling, and 2. Be entertaining. This was something I wanted to achieve from day one. The idea was that even if a viewer didn’t care for the mind reading, perhaps they might hopefully find it entertaining. And, if they didn’t think I was particularly funny, at least they’d be amazed that I can count a handful of coins thrown in the air before they hit the ground.

When did you develop a passion for mentalism?

I used to visit a lot of psychics after my dad died, and caught one using a fraudulent method to make me believe that she was communicating with him. This was a huge eye opener, and I wanted to find out more about how this psychological game worked. Today as a mentalist, I use many of the exact same techniques to make it seem like I can read minds. But I won’t pretend to contact your granny – honest!

After a long day at the office, how would your perfect cultural evening pan out?

There’s nothing in this world that I love more than live comedy. It’s a spectacularly undervalued and under-appreciated arts outlet.

If you could have three cultural figures from throughout history round for dinner, who would they be and why?

Sorry, I need four! Claude Alexander Conlin, so I could ask him just how he managed to build such a legendary career. John Linehan/May Mcfettridge, because she’s the closest thing Northern Ireland has to a living national treasure, and I think she’s probably the biggest live entertainment talent that we’ve ever had. Sean Hollywood, since I’d bet he’d throw a pretty fantastic party. And Banksy so I could have him finish off a bit of decorating upstairs.

If you could have created any piece of art from throughout history, what would it be?

Anything by Patrick Hughes.

Who would play you in the film of your life, and who would direct?

Hardly matters. It’d go straight to video.

What song would you like played at your funeral?

'Clair de Lune', Debussy.

What is the future for David Meade?

I’m going to keep making programmes as long as the viewers are there, but I’d really love to eventually try my own live TV project. Nothing quite beats the buzz of that red light and knowing that everything is happening in real time with no cuts or edits. I’d be heart broken if I never got to give that a shot.

David Meade will perform at the Lyric Theatre on February 27 in aid of the Simon Community.