On the basis of the series-spanning sample clip we were able to view, Ben Earl has been recruited to fill a Derren Brown-shaped hole in C4’s schedules. He’s an urbane sort, whose unremarkable appearance belies his routinely staggering sleight-of-hand.
However, now we’re used to seeing this kind of stuff debunked, all illusionists need a through line, a narrative shape, a context in which to place their trickery. This has been the basis of Brown’s success – he’s raised the bar and it remains to be seen whether Earl can manage something similar.
The clips may not have done Earl too many favours: sure, they were impressive, but then illusionists don’t get anywhere near telly without mastering the basic mechanics of their trade. But what are they for? Why put a bowling ball in a balloon? Why fashion a key out of a cigarette paper? Hopefully, tonight we’ll find out.