The Secret Life of Uri Geller

Sun Jul 21, 9-10pm, BBC2

The trouble with Uri Geller is he’s quite literally incredible. His spoon-bending, mind-reading antics seem to defy belief, but so too do many of his more outlandish claims in this enticing, but ultimately frustrating, profile. His early life is certainly fascinating: his participation as an Israeli paratrooper in the Six-Day War; his adoption by US boffins investigating ‘remote viewing’ as an espionage tool; and his rapid rise into the celebrity stratosphere. Geller also has shades of Walter Mitty – referenced both by the title and the deliberately daft soundtrack (‘Mission Impossible’, ‘Get Smart’, ‘The X-Files’) – to the point where it becomes impossible to separate the truth from the fantasy. This is, after all, a man who has allowed himself to stay out of the spotlight for an unusual length of time.

Consequently, he leads director Vikram Jayanti (whose superb profiles of Garry Kasparov and Phil Spector proved rather more fruitful) on a merry dance: dropping hints about his work with the Mossad, the CIA and his post-9/11 ‘reactivation’ by unnamed secret services, before retreating behind the shelter of ‘classified information’ and refusing to divulge details. One of Jayanti’s final questions – ‘can you tell me anything you can’t tell me?’ – encapsulates the futility of trying to get a straight answer out of a born showman and self-mythologist.