Magician Ben Hanlin fooled reality star Gemma Collins into thinking she was going to be eaten by a bear for his brand new series of Tricked, which went about as well as you’d imagine.
“I thought I’d seen every type of reaction, but with Gemma, she didn’t take it very well,” Hanlin told RadioTimes.com ahead of tonight’s third series launch. “There were things said, and a reaction like I’ve never experienced,” he added of the former TOWIE star.
Was it a full I’m A Celeb-style response, I queried?
“There might ‘ave been a lot of mascara, there might have been a lot of un-family-friendly language, maybe.” He teased. “But it’s really funny.”
So how did Hanlin manage to convince Ms Collins she was about to be eaten by a bear? Well, she was strapped to a tree in the woods thinking she was filming a promo for a new brand of bear beer. He’d hired a ‘bear guy’ from Hollywood so the mechanical animal looked real. Gemma was made to think the bear had got drunk off of the beer and had started going nuts. Being strapped to a tree and not able to run away, it’s fair to say most of us would have more than mascara on show.
“I thought, have I gone too far? “ Hanlin admitted. “And then obviously you’re able to turn it around a bit. I know Gem and we’ve met and we hang out. Genuinely there’s a moment where I thought, ‘We’re not going to be friends anymore’ and I thought, ‘That’s not very good is it?’ But what’s great is that after a couple of minutes, she was like, ‘I get it. I get the funniness.’”
“Celebrities are usually so calm and collected. It’s nice to see them a little bit in the real world,” Hanlin added, with Kim Kardashian among those he’s previously wowed. He swallowed needles in front of her on a yacht in Cannes. No biggie.
While there’s only two celebrities featured in this new series (TOWIE’s Bobby Norris is the other) Hanlin has his sights set on some more.
“It’d be great to trick Nick Grimshaw. Grimmy seems like a really cool guy. I’ve never seen him stress out. I’ve never seen him in any situation that’s less than chilled out. I’d like to see what he’s like. Or people like Simon Cowell. Be nice to wind up Cowell a bit. Or One Direction; shave a chunk out of Harry Styles’s hair. I think I’d have to move house. I’d have to go into witness protection because of the One Directioners.”
Being a big movie fan, Hanlin says it’s the film-themed episode he’s most excited about for which he recreated magic seen on screen.
“We make a guy think aliens have landed, we make another person think teleporting actually exists and that his friend gets lost in a teleport machine and can’t come back.”
“It was that idea of you’ve only seen it in the movies, could you convince someone in real life that it could happen now?” Hanlin explained. “I would have said a couple of years ago ‘no way’. But doing this, it’s made me realise that there are some people who, if you get all the set up right, and you have all of the elaborate background to it, and all of the scenes and the actors, and all you need to make it real, people will believe things that seem crazy. They’re in the moment and they go with it. This guy genuinely thought his mate had teleported from one pod and couldn’t teleport back. I basically tell him he might have to go to another pod in Shanghai to be teleported back. He was saying ‘I can’t go to Shanghai to get him!’”
Of his interest in magic, Hanlin explained: “I’ve always like the idea that everyone’s really busy in life. You’ve got phones, emails, Facebook, Twitter… but then you see a magic trick. It doesn’t matter if you’re Kim Kardashian or a builder in the street with his mates: everyone just forgets everything about all their lives and they just watch the trick. Everyone has the same reaction. It doesn’t matter who you are, everyone just reacts and interacts with magic in the same way.
“Everyone’s brain sort of stops for that moment. You can see them just go, ‘What?’ It’s one of the best things. There’s nothing else that really does that to people.”
The new series of Tricked starts 9pm Tuesday on ITV2