As It Happens

That time As It Happens put a fork-bending psychic to the test

This episode of As It Happened: The Archive Edition is all about scams and schemes. You'll meet legendary bank robber Willis Newton, a California man who had a run-in with a sasquatch and a psychic who tried to bend forks over the radio.

In 1975, Barbara Frum and Al Maitland tried to channel Simon Alexander's brainwaves over the airwaves

In 1975, British psychic Simon Alexander tried - and failed - to bend forks over the radio on As It Happens. (Shutterstock / Antonio Gravante)

This story was originally published Jul 31, 2020.


The theme for this episode of our summer series As It Happened: The Archive Edition is "Scams and Schemes."

Try to keep your wits about you: some of the most uncanny and crafty characters from the As It Happens archives are standing by. 

You'll meet legendary bank robber Willis Newton, a California man who had a run-in with a sasquatch, and a psychic who tried to bend forks in the As It Happens studio via telepathy and telekinesis.

Here are some of the highlights from this episode.

Clear-channel radio

In 1975, British psychic Simon Alexander tried to work his magic on As It Happens from across the pond. 

After claiming that he could bend cutlery with his mind, former hosts Barbara Frum and Alan Maitland asked Alexander whether they could channel his powerful brainwaves over the airwaves. 

"Can you bend my fork for me this evening? I have a cafeteria fork here. Would you like to try that?" Maitland asked.

"The thing is, of course, I've never done it at such a long distance," Alexander cautioned. "Which could create a problem. You'll probably find your fork bends about five hours later."

Alexander's prediction that there would be problems was about as far as his mind reached that evening.

"Wait a minute. Something's happening here. Now my fork's starting to go just a little bit on the prongs," Alexander said. "Keep rubbing."

"This is great for radio, isn't it? Psychic bending — super," Frum said. 

"There's nothing happening here," Maitland said. "You couldn't do anything for the bursitis in my right elbow, could you?"

Despite their deep concentration, neither Frum or Maitland's fork ever budged. But maybe you'll have better luck?

Despite their efforts, hosts Barbara Frum and Alan Maitland were unable to bend forks in the As It Happens studio via psychic Simon Alexander's telepathy. (CBC Still Photo Collection)

Divining intervention

You can put down the bent fork now and try to wrap your mind around our next story. 

Sally Le Page couldn't believe it when she heard that her parents' water company had searched for a buried pipe using divining rods. So the British biologist decided to investigate and learned that all signs pointed to the rods still being a popular tool for most water companies.

In 2017, As It Happens host Carol Off spoke with Le Page about the unusual technique.

Dowsers, also known as water witches, use so-called divining rods made of copper or wood, pendulums or other items to find water deep underground using nothing more than their own intuition. (Eric Risberg/Associated Press)

You ain't heard nothing Yeti

As Le Page learned, science may call for reason, but the call of the unknown endures.

And no call is more enduring — or elusive — than the one Al Barry claimed to have captured in California's Sierra mountain range back in 1975. 

In 1975, As It Happens hosts Barbara Frum and Alan Maitland spoke to Al Barry after he claimed to have recordings of a sasquatch. 0:20

Hosts Alan Maitland and Barbara Frum spoke with Barry about a recording he made that he insisted was the undeniable sound of a sasquatch. 

The iconic frame 352 still of the Patterson-Gilmlin film, which allegedly depicts a female Bigfoot or sasquatch. Al Barry played a sound recording of what he claimed was a sasquatch on As It Happens in 1975. (Bob Gimlin/YouTube)

You can hear these stories and more on the "Scams and Schemes" episode of As it Happened: The Archive Edition

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