Magician Dynamo had it all. A successful four-season series run with Dynamo: Magician Impossible, which earned him a BAFTA nomination for Best Entertainment Program in 2012. He was touring the world with his bag of magic tricks, and even visited South Africa in early 2018. But later that year it all came crashing down when Dynamo was rushed to hospital for food poisoning (from undercooked chicken) and his fight with chronic arthritis, a condition he’s had since he was a teen, flared up again. He was left helpless as the arthritis took over his body bit by bit, and at one point he couldn’t even shuffle a pack of cards.
Instead of giving up, he decided to fight back and learn new skills. “This really helped me to show that this doesn’t have to be end,” says 37-year-old Dynamo (born Steven Frayne). “I had to find a whole new approach to magic, and I think I found that.” And now Dynamo is back, stronger than ever in the doccie reality series Dynamo: Beyond Belief.
During his time in hospital and with limited use of his hands, Dynamo jotted down 200 magic ideas that eventually became the basis of Dynamo: Beyond Belief. “The magic in the new series is very different to anything you would have seen. I’m super proud of it, and I think it’s the best magic I’ve ever done,” says Dynamo. Taking a different approach enabled Dynamo to perfect a new skill of being able to guess the exact amount of playing cards he has in his hand, something fans will see in the first episode. “I had to build up strength in my hand, so I would practice with one card and every day I’d add a new card until I was able to hold a full deck again. The process of doing this ended with me developing a skill of being able to tell how many cards were in my hand just from the feel alone. That was, in some ways, taking my disability and turning it into a superpower.”
Throughout this 3-episode series, Dynamo’s remarkable gift to leave people speechless with his tricks is intertwined with the backstory of his illness, and his long 2-year road to recovery. It’s presented with Dynamo taking viewers through a vlog doccie of his recovery process, which is interwoven with his new tricks. He admits that some of his ideas were pretty out there. “There’s been things that I put out to my team that they wouldn’t be able to get me insurance for because they’re a bit too dangerous.”
From the neon lights of Tokyo, where Dynamo revs a car just by touching it, turning vodka shots into ice cubes in Russia, to the Day of the Dead festival in San Miguel de Allende, Dynamo visits extraordinary and dramatic places. Some scenes will get pretty emotional as intend to make women cry, but I think it shows the power of magic. Magic really does hit people in an emotional way, a bit like music. For me, magic isn’t a physical thing, it’s an emotion that we all have inside of us. My skill set allows me to share magic in a different way. It’s really interesting tapping into people’s emotions.”
Before the launch of Dynamo: Beyond Belief in the UK in April, Dynamo tested positive for COVID-19 and had to go into self-isolation. “The experience has definitely made me appreciate the simple things in life and shown me that you can’t take things for granted.” So Dynamo says his new show is dedicated to the doctors and nurses on the frontline – the people doing the real magic out there. “Now more than ever, we’re in a world where we need a little bit of magic in our lives.”
Watch Dynamo: Beyond Belief on Discovery Family (DStv 136) from Sunday, 13 September at 15:10