West Londoner Katherine Mills has been tasked with replacing Dynamo’s big boots on Watch with new show Mind Games – but expect something a little more thought provoking, writes Mark Kebble
How I wished I was better at art. Having been given the opportunity to see Katherine Mills’ magical talents first-hand, ahead of the first screening of new show Mind Games, she has asked me to draw the first thing that comes to my mind. So I draw my two cats – rather terribly (my larger cat looks like she is wearing a toupee, whilst the smaller one looks like a rat).
‘Would I recognise it?’ Katherine asks me, back in the room and facing me. Erm, maybe. Five questions later and Katherine deduces I have drawn something alive and quickly sketches out what she believes I have scrawled. ‘I think you have drawn some kind of smaller animal and a bigger animal,’ Katherine says, revealing her drawing that does indeed resemble mine (but looks a whole lot more artistic).
Once I have got over the embarrassment of my lack of artistic skill, I admit I am a little unnerved. This is what Katherine Mills is all about: she combines her knowledge and skills in psychology and sociology with her love of mind reading and magic. Her new show Mind Games is mid-run and has been greeted with widespread acclaim. So much for the pressure of following on from Dynamo’s apparent last TV series. ‘I hadn’t thought of it as a pressure,’ Katherine counters. ‘People have suggested that I am trying to fit into Dynamo’s shoes, which is massively flattering because he has been such a huge success, but I don’t think we are comparable because what we do is so different and we are such different performers.’
It was another big name in the world of magic that inspired Katherine to head down the career path she finds herself on today. ‘I was 14 and I remember seeing David Blaine,’ Katherine says. ‘I thought it was the coolest thing I had ever seen, so I started learning a few magic tricks. But it wasn’t until after university that I thought I wanted to be a magician.’
Practicing on her older brother and friends, Katherine spent years honing her craft and impressed so much that she was inducted into the rather mystical sounding The Magic Circle. Katherine has already been a TV star in CBBC’s Supply Teacher, but having her own primetime show is a whole new ball game. ‘If I was trying to describe it, it’s a magic show,’ Katherine says on Mind Games, ‘but magic including psychology. It’s brought to everyday people, using everyday psychology in everyday settings.’
Mind Games starts with a claim that no ‘stooges or actors’ are used in the production of the show, so does it frustrate Katherine that people would doubt what they see? ‘I suppose it depends on what your understanding of magic is,’ Katherine considers. ‘I don’t blame people for questioning it at all and I think it’s natural to. That’s half of the fun when someone doesn’t believe it, and you can then prove it to them.’
Katherine has a lot going for her. Her easy-going personality comes across on screen, and it’s handy that she has model looks too. What’s more, Katherine’s a West London local too. ‘I have been in the West London area for a few years now,’ Katherine smiles. ‘I lived in Ladbroke Grove for about four years and love the area, as I do Portobello Road, and the likes of The Shop, Paradise and The Chamberlayne on Chamberlayne Road.’
Katherine doesn’t consider for one minute becoming as big as Dynamo, but perhaps we will see her performing her magic in the area some time soon. Going back to my ‘art’ and the uneasy feeling of Katherine drawing what I did, does she encounter people who feel unnerved in her presence? ‘That’s quite a common response!’ Katherine exclaims. ‘It is so personal. That’s what I find most interesting about the show, when I am talking to people and finding things out that are personal to them… It stays with people.’
Find out more about Katherine Mills at katherinemills.co.uk