Parkinson: Masterclass, Sky Arts 1 - TV review: Dynamo made for a particularly good show


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The Independent Culture

I'm enjoying Parkinson: Masterclass, Sir Michael's latest interview series on Sky Arts 1. As well as exploring the nature of artistic talent in unusual depth, Parky's balance of cheek and charm – Mrs Merton crossed with James Bond – means he can get away with asking the kind of personal questions that would seem intrusive on, say, Piers Morgan's Life Stories.

Last night's guest, the street urchin-turned-illusionist Dynamo made for a particularly good show, as these two Yorkshire lads collaborated to unravel the contrast of ordinary bloke and extraordinary talent.

Dynamo, aka Steven Frayne, described the Bradford council estate he grew up in as a place full of opportunists: "And there weren't that many opportunities around." His own circumstances were particularly difficult. The son of a teenage mother and an imprisoned father, he was bullied as a child and diagnosed with Crohn's disease as a teenager – a condition that contributed to his famously slight stature.

Parky's biographical approach to understanding his subject's gifts worked particularly well here, as Dynamo revealed how his kindly great-grandfather had taught him his first magic tricks as a means to confront and escape bullying at school. Some of these biographical details did sound suspiciously like reworked snippets from the plot of The Karate Kid, but if so, who cares? It only makes Dynamo's dedication to showmanship that much more impressive.