The long build-up to his burial was intercut with pre-recorded footage of Dynamo meeting celebrities to talk about mental health, then wow them with close-up magic. Boxer Tyson Fury discussed his own suicide bid, before Dynamo removed his title belt from a framed photograph. Pop star Demi Lovato, who turned her life around after a near-fatal drug overdose, was agog when he made live butterflies appear from the pages of a book. US comic Pete Davidson, a fellow Crohn’s sufferer, talked with grimly funny frankness about his, ahem, stomach problems as a prelude to some wizardry with a voodoo doll.
Model Cara Delevingne pondered her 12-step recovery programme as he made a can of Coke fly across the room. Actress Kate Beckinsale opened up about losing her famous father Richard aged five. When Dynamo conjured up an image of her late cat Clive – who became an Instagram sensation during lockdown – she wept. Coldplay fell victim to mind-boggling psychic trickery. Sadly, Dynamo missed the opportunity to make the band disappear.
Skateboarder Tony Hawk, comedian Dave Chappelle and Steven Bartlett from Dragon’s Den were all foxed by card tricks. Rapper Bugzy Malone declared Dynamo “a lunatic” after a daring razor blade illusion. Singer Ke$ha tugged on his literal heartstrings. If you enjoy famous types exclaiming “Oh my God!” and “Wow, that’s crazy!”, you’d come to the right place.
I don’t doubt Dynamo’s intentions were sincere. It was often movingly heartfelt and sharing his vulnerabilities so candidly took courage. Yet this ponderous, padded-out programme took itself far too seriously. He intoned gnomic lines such as: “To do something I’ve never done, I need to become someone I’ve never been: myself.” Which sounds deep and meaningful until you realise it isn’t.
It all climaxed, naturally, with the suspenseful burial sequence. A countdown clock expired. A bell tolled. Dynamo climbed into a hole, laid down and a digger tipped five tonnes of soil on top of him. After a tense two minutes 48 seconds, his head emerged from the dirt and he crawled out. Viewers breathed again.
He’d pulled off the feat that Houdini himself failed to complete. It was, we were told, the first time that anyone has ever managed to escape being buried alive without a coffin. Did we need two hours of celebrity soul-searching and navel-gazing to get to this point? When Dynamo alluded to a legal battle over the rights to his name, the cynic in me began to suspect this was all a rebranding exercise, dressed up as a transformative experience.
Dynamo is dead. Long live Stephen Frayne. Now please get back to performing magic. Let’s leave the hippy-dippy mumbo-jumbo to Gwyneth and the Sussexes. First, though, Frayne has some laundry to do. He might be magic – but those muddy clothes won’t unstain themselves.
Sophie Anderson, a UK-based writer, is your guide to the latest trends, viral sensations, and internet phenomena. With a finger on the pulse of digital culture, she explores what’s trending across social media and pop culture, keeping readers in the know about the latest online sensations.