Beyond Belief is the epic 3 part special from Dynamo that’s due to hit the screens on Sky One. Six years in the making, the journey behind the show is almost as incredible as the show itself, here we find out why.
He was once just a quiet boy from Bradford that liked illusions. Why would we have looked twice? But we only needed to look once at Steven Frayne to know he was someone special. He went from posting his street performances on YouTube to wowing a global audience in one huge step – a step into the spotlight that happened way back in 2001 when he managed to secure a gig alongside names such as Copperfield at Houdini’s centenary celebrations at the New York Hilton. When he took to the stage no one really expected much – until he began working his magic. Jaws dropped. No one could believe what they were seeing. This was magic and then some. Aaron Fisher famously shouted, “This kid’s an effing Dynamo.” And the name stuck. Since then a lot has happened. Not only to Dynamo’s magic, but to his personal life and to his health – curveballs that have completely changed the game.
It’s been 6 years since Dynamo made a television show, in that time he’s been through a lot, which has forced him to rethink his magic – to find a new approach. Dynamo says “The new show features the street magic that everyone knows me for, as well as some much bigger moments, but it also shows the audience a side to me they wouldn’t normally get to see. In some ways you’re getting to see behind the curtain, the man behind the magic.” But the man behind the magic has been facing some really hard times. Over the last few years Dynamo’s Crohn’s Disease has got worse. A side effect of which is reactive arthritis, which at times has left him unable to even shuffle a pack of cards let alone perform any magic. Striking the question, how can a magician perform without using his hands? But as we all know, you can’t keep a good man down. And Dynamo is way beyond good. He says “For a while I felt like my career was over, but I’m not a defeatist. I spent my time recovering and developing a new approach to magic where I put the magic into the audiences’ hands and empower them to do the impossible. Although at times it can be tough, I’m never going to be defined by my illness and I will never let it hold me back.”
Crohn’s is one of the invisible illnesses, meaning that although you may look happy and healthy on the outside, inside you could feel terrible. And when you look fine, people often find it hard to understand and empathise with what a Crohn’s sufferer may be going through – exactly what Dynamo has been facing. He tells us that while he doesn’t like to shout about his illness, it’s not something he’s ashamed of. And by being honest and open about the trials and tribulations of Crohn’s, he feels he can help other sufferers feel more comfortable about it. “People need to know that they are not alone in the struggle.”
It’s not just Dynamo’s health that has influenced his upcoming show. In fact, the story goes back much further, starting way back in his childhood, where he says much of his inspiration comes from. He explains “I was a loner as a kid, my best friend was my imagination. I would imagine I could do anything and would get lost in my own little world. I didn’t necessarily take the easy path to success but I think it was the willingness to take risks and not care about failure that gave me the patience and persistence to stick with it. In some ways when I think about magic it still fills me with that same feeling I got as a child. I think it’s important that I never lose that sense of wonder. As we grow older we can become cynical about things, and we often wish we could go back to a time when we were young, innocent and uninformed – a time when we believed in Santa Claus and the tooth fairy, when we didn’t know how everything works. Magic has the ability to short circuit the brain and make you feel like a kid again, when you see something inexplicable and all you can do is look to the person next to you and ask how?!”
While Dynamo looks to his childhood for inspiration, he says it wasn’t always easy. Something that most people growing up on a council estate in Bradford may well agree with. Dynamo says “Growing up there gave me the street smarts I needed for the real world. I honed my skills on the estate and in some ways the people there where my toughest crowds and critics. I knew if I could make it there then I could make it anywhere! I wouldn’t change my upbringing for anything, it made me who I am today.”
Going from humble beginnings in Bradford to headlining three shows at London’s O2 Arena, something that Dynamo claims to be his biggest achievement, is an incredible journey. He says “When I was younger I was petrified at the thought of going on stage, let alone one of the biggest stages in the UK. I’m so glad I had the opportunity to do it and I look forward to doing another show there in the future.”
It seems as though Dynamo is always looking ahead, always thinking about his next move, perhaps this is what makes him such an incredible magician. So we asked him what his future looks like. “I’m constantly thinking up new ideas. I’m a student of life and try to take every experience I have and turn it into something amazing. Like a great musician takes their life’s ups and downs and turns it into an album.”
Coming to Sky One and streaming service NOW TV in 2020, DYNAMO, BEYOND BELIEF is co-produced by Phil McIntyre Television, Inner Circle Films and Motion Content Group.
Make up: @rebeccabarnesmakeup
Photo assistant: @4ung @___geraldanne AHN JIYONG
Set design: @studio_miyo
Editor: Arjen Gill