Derek Acorah (born Derek Francis Johnson on 27 January 1950) is a British medium. He is best known for his work on Most Haunted, broadcast on Living, between 2002 and 2005. He recently presented the series Derek Acorah on Sky Real Lives. Although he continues to be a popular figure in live tours and television work, he has been criticised and parodied, often casting doubt over his legitimacy as a medium.
Personal life Edit
Derek Acorah was born as Derek Johnson, but later changed his surname to what he claimed to be his grandmother's maiden name, Acorah. He lives in Scarisbrick near Southport, Lancashire in North West England with his wife Gwen, he also has a son from previous marriage. He works regularly in television and radio and has made personal appearances across the United Kingdom, Europe, the Middle East, New Zealand and the U.S.A..
Acorah claims that his first supernatural experience came as a child when the spirit of his late grandfather - who died before Acorah was born - visited him.
When he was 13, Acorah fulfilled a boyhood ambition to be a footballer when he signed for Wrexham, as an apprentice. Two years later he had moved on to Liverpool FC under Bill Shankly. Acorah played for the reserves, but after failing to make the first team, moved back to Wrexham. He later had spells with Glentoran in Northern Ireland and Stockport County before applying for the Australian League with the Australian team USC Lion. When Acorah's football career ended because of injuries and homesickness he returned to England and to Liverpool. He claimed psychic powers were always with him and after a while he set up as a full time spirit medium based in his home city of Liverpool.
Acorah's television career began in 1996 when he appeared on a magazine programme called Livetime produced by Granada Television in Manchester and broadcast on the Granada Breeze television channel. Following the success of his initial appearance on the show, he was regularly invited back to feature in a weekly segment. He later worked as a main contributor on a spin-off show called Psychic Livetime as well as The Psychic Zone was given his own show, Predictions with Derek Acorah where he would conduct readings on members of the public in their own homes.
In January 1998, Acorah, travelled to Los Angeles where he took part in various paranormal investigations both in Los Angeles itself and in Hollywood. He also conducted a live show on stage at the Vogue Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard. In 2000 he returned to California to record a pilot for a new show named Connections with Derek Acorah. The show involved Acorah touring the streets of Santa Monica giving impromptu readings to members of the public but the show was never picked up by any of the television networks.
In July 2001, Acorah was asked to feature in a new British television programme called Haunting Truths which was subsequently sold to Living and renamed Most Haunted. It was at this time that he arguably became Britain's most widely known medium and was described as "the sexiest man in Spiritualism". He worked on the show for six series until his departure in 2005. Acorah claims that he left the show to pursue other projects although the show's presenter, Yvette Fielding is reported to have said that he was asked to leave after Ciarán O'Keeffe, a parapsychologist for the show, fed him misinformation to which he later responded during an investigation, presenting himself as being possessed by the spirit of a fictional character.
In Spring 2003 Living also commissioned Antiques Ghost Show which shows Acorah demonstrating psychometry as he unfolds the mysteries of family heirlooms. The show was not as popular as Ghost Towns, but it was generally well received. In one episode Acorah apparently was able to determine correctly the name and occupation of the previous owner of an object - an erotic sculpture from the Victorian period.
After Acorah's departure from Most Haunted, Living commissioned Derek Acorah's Ghost Towns. In contrast to Most Haunted which mainly featured well known stately homes, castles and the like, this programme would involve the public and would highlight their stories of ghostly activity in less well known locations throughout the country. Derek, together with the presenter, would also knock on people's doors and offer them a private sitting in their own homes. Acorah was joined for the first two series by presenters Daniella Westbrook and Angus Purden and also by Myleene Klass and Rhodri Owen for the third and final series.
In 2004 Acorah was presented with the Variety Club of Great Britain's Multichannel TV Personality of the Year Award, as chosen by its members.
To mark the 400th anniversary of the Gunpowder Plot (1605), Living commissioned a one-off programme called Derek Acorah's Quest for Guy Fawkes which broadcast on Guy Fawkes Night in 2005. Together with presenter and journalist Angus Purden, Derek travelled the country visiting key locations in order to retrace the footsteps of Guy Fawkes.
In 2007 Acorah travelled to Egypt to film Paranormal Egypt with Tessa Dunlop. This six-part series was commissioned by Living and produced by Ruggie Media. While in 2008 appeared in the feature film documentary Tattoos: A Scarred History. Derek has his own show on Sky Real Lives, named simply "Derek Acorah".
In November 2009 Acorah featured in two programmes where he attempted to make contact with the spirit of Michael Jackson, Michael Jackson: The Live Seance and Michael Jackson: The Search For His Spirit. The show was named the worst TV programme of 2009 in a poll of more than 9,000 Yahoo! users.
On 9th March 2011 Acorah took part in a live online seance. The event was hosted by The Sun which described him as the 'UK's foremost medium'.
Acorah's credibility has been questioned following his work on Most Haunted. On investigations for the programme, Acorah would appear to become possessed by spirits or an evil entity or would appear lost and confused. On one such occasion, Acorah said he was possessed by the spirit of a man called Kreed Kafer. In a later interview the programme's parapsychologist, Ciaran O'Keeffe, said that the character was a fabrication he invented, and an anagram of "Derek faker". O'Keeffe had fed this name to Acorah prior to the programme, and he had subsequently repeated it during filming. In a separate interview, the show's presenter and executive producer Yvette Fielding said that she believes it was a "fake possession".
Acorah has been parodied by comedian Marc Wootton, in his series High Spirits with Shirley Ghostman, by Jon Culshaw on the TV series Dead Ringers and by Dawn French as 'Dawnie Acorah'. His newer show, Derek Acorah's Ghost Towns, is often a subject for Harry Hill on his ITV1 show, Harry Hill's TV Burp. He was spoofed by Hugh Laurie on Saturday Night Live in a segment when Laurie hosted the show in 2006. An Acorah-like psychic with bouffant blond hair, regional Northern England accent and non-existent psychic abilities appeared in series 1, Episode 3 of Peter Kay's Phoenix Nights.
He is also parodied in a routine by comedian Ed Byrne in his latest DVD "Different Class" - claiming to know a couple's name after they had previously told it to him.
Acorah has written on his experiences and detailing his life.
- The Psychic World of Derek Acorah: Discover How to Develop Your Hidden Powers - Derek Acorah with John G. Sutton, Paitkus Books, 2003
- 'The Psychic Adventures of Derek Acorah: Star of TV's "Most Haunted", Element Books 2004
- Ghost Hunting with Derek Acorah - Derek Acorah, Element Books, 2005
- Most Haunted: The Official Behind-the-Scenes Guide - Yvette Fielding, Derek Acorah, 2005
- Haunted Britain - Derek Acorah, Harper Element, 2006
- Haunted Britain and Ireland - by Derek Acorah
- Ghost Towns - Derek Acorah, Harper Element, 2006
- Derek Acorah's Haunted!'
- Derek Acorah - Amazing Psychic Stories'
- Derek Acorah - Extreme Psychic'