Sally Morgan: psychic superstar

Sally Morgan on stageI’ve watched her on television and been impressed. I’ve read in the media about her celebrity clients – from Princess Diana to George Michael. So the chance to see Sally Morgan demonstrating her mediumship at the Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham, earlier this week was an opportunity I was not going to miss.

Watching mediums on TV can be far from convincing, as I have said before. Are we just seeing edited highlights? How much is contrived or controlled by the production team. Or – dare I say it – are the people who get messages already known to the medium or the team?

As viewers, we have no way of knowing. But with a live show it should be much easier to determine how real it is. Certainly, as far as Sally Morgan’s show was concerned, I have no doubt that it was exactly as it was presented: a medium on the stage conveying spirit messages to people who were complete strangers. A medium, I suggest, who well deserves the description “psychic superstar”. Now much slimmer, following a gastric bypass operation, she was even greeted by wolf whistles when she first took to the stage.

I am sure that almost every member of the capacity audience in the 1,380-seater Alexandra Theatre was hoping to receive a message, in which case the majority were disappointed. But they were all, undoubtedly, entertained.

Sally Morgan has a down-to-earth, bubbly personality and superb presentation, so that even when listening to someone else receiving a message you are mesmerised by her ability and the drama of the event. She squeals with delight when people respond enthusiastically, empathises with those who are reduced to tears by what she tells them, and sometimes gets carried away by the anguish or emotion that she is being asked to convey.

Were they gullible?

The audience, of course, were adoring fans and video images of the lucky ones who received messages were beamed onto a large screen behind the medium as they answered her questions or responded to her statements through microphones that had been passed to them.

Even though they were fans, they did not appear to be gullible. They made it clear when something she told them was incorrect. There were times, too, when two or three people in the audience could accept Sally’s statements about a communicator. In those cases, she soon managed to identify the correct recipient – though she sometimes came back to the “rejects” and gave them some meaningful evidence, too.

The length of the queue that formed outside the theatre at the end of the show, snaking around into two side streets in order to have Sally sign their programmes or tickets, was an indicator of her success. My guess was at least 400 audience members wanted the opportunity to spend just a few seconds with her.

That’s an incredible achievement for a self-developed medium who has never worked in Spiritualist churches and has never received a spirit message from another medium. Yet she has been packing theatres around the country while on tour for the past three years.

When I spoke to Sally Morgan a couple of days after her appearance in Birmingham, she explained that she does not follow Spiritualism as a religion but believes she was put on earth with the purpose of making people aware of survival of death and the spirit world. Even so, her glossy programme devotes an entire page to the history of Spiritualism.

How good was the evidence?

So, how evidential were the messages that the Birmingham audience received? The majority seemed to be comforted and impressed with the accuracy and relevance of what she told them. And I was able to talk with one of the recipients after the show.

Littlehampton lighthouseRoss Berkeley Simpson, a director, teacher and writer who is also a songwriter, along with a couple of other audience members, responded when Sally talked about a man named Arthur and a lighthouse, which she subsequently described as “some kind of tower by the sea” which was very peaceful and Arthur was there.

“My grandfather, Arthur, lived in Bognor Regis,” Ross told me, “and we all used to go with him to Littlehampton Pier and the beach, and there’s a tall red-and-white coastguard tower there. The penultimate time I saw my grandfather was there: he was walking on the pier and I was on the beach, and that place has always been magical for me. So I was pretty well satisfied that the message was for me.”

At the time of receiving the message, Ross’ first recollection was of the coastguard building at Littlehampton, West Sussex, but having since seen a photograph of a nearby lighthouse that stands close to the pier, he has realised that Sally description (or his grandfather’s) was incredibly accurate. (Photo of Littlehampton Lighthouse, located on the East Pier, contributed by Paul Gillett).

What clinched it for Ross was Sally’s next statement as she peered up at him in the circle.  Sally asked him what it was she had said that had made him respond and he explained about his grandfather.

Sally did not dwell on that. Instead, she said without any preamble, “I just have to tell you … you’re not expecting this, what I’m going to say to you, but there’s a man who took his own life standing here.”

Ross acknowledged this. “Oh my God, oh my God,” Sally continued, her voice sounding anxious. “Do you live at number 60?” Ross shook his head and said “No”.

“60, 60, 60!” Sally repeated, insistently, adding, “I’ll tell you what I’m hearing. It isn’t nice. It’s not going to make you laugh. It’s like someone’s saying, ‘Swinging 60s’ but … did he hang himself?”

“Yes he did,” Ross replied.

“I mean, he’s trying to make a joke of it! It isn’t funny!! He’s swinging.”

Sally then asked Ross who Alex and Pop were, making the motion of popping something into her mouth at the same time. These names and actions meant nothing to him but another audience member said she recognised them. Sally indicated that she would move onto this lady but said, “Let me just finish with this gentleman. Listen to me on this. That gentleman who took his life … that young man … he’s very proud of what you have been doing recently. You help others and I don’t know whether you’re involved with, er, like some kind of adventure camp…”

Ross: “Yes”

Sally: “Are You?”

Ross with workshop kidsRoss: “Kind of, yes. It’s something I was involved with him – years ago – we were in a drama workshop and I now run the workshop we were in.”

Sally: “He is so proud. Isn’t that amazing? (The audience claps). He is so proud that you are now running it. You are incredibly adventurous in how you see your work and how you teach and how you help youngsters, disadvantaged youngsters. You’re a very, very good man. He stands here … let’s thank this man.” (More applause).

Ross is the director of First Act Workshops which develops the confidence and acting talent of young people (between eight and 18 years old) in the West Midlands by taking them through specialised television, radio and theatre courses and general acting training. He is pictured (right) with some of the youngsters during a recent course.

Sally then turned her attention to the other member of the audience in the stalls who had recognised Alex and Pop, asking her if she knew a Lillian. She said her mother had a friend named Lillian. “And do you know if Lillian had cancer of her right breast?” She didn’t. But Ross called out: “I know a Lillian who had breast cancer.”

Later, he told me that Lillian was his lovely singing teacher 10 years ago who had had breast cancer but was in remission when he met her. Then the cancer returned and she died very quickly.

Ross noted that Sally had begun by referring to the person who had hanged himself as “a gentleman” but later corrected this to “young gentleman” – a subtle difference that the audience would probably not have noticed but it was important to Ross because they were both in their mid teens when the suicide occurred.

Ross told me that the young man had contacted him through four different mediums, one of whom had said it was alright to tell his Mum about the spirit message, while another had said there was no need to do so, as she would find out. The boy, however, seems to be persisting in making his presence known from the Other Side, though Ross is still nervous about upsetting his mother by revealing his identity in print or approaching her with the information.

It’s a quandary that many people must find themselves in.

“My close friend Margaret died on the 15th September, also from cancer of the right breast. That’s why I went to see Sally, to be honest. Four or five years before she died, Margaret gave me a £20 theatre voucher, which I’d never been able to use. A week after she died I walked into the Alexander Theatre and asked if I could use it to see Sally Morgan. The girl in the ticket office said I could, but the show was sold out. Despite her insistence that she had never experienced many returns for a Sally Morgan show, Ross left his phone number, just in case.

“As I walked out, I felt sure that, against the odds I would get into the show and I would also get a message from Sally Morgan. I had only walked as far as New Street when my phone went and it was the girl in the ticket office. ‘Come and get your ticket,’ she said, ‘I’ve found you one’.”

Sally Morgan

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