My memory of my trip to the dentist in 1981 – one part of The Horizon Object


I can’t remember the order of events of the day that I was hypnotized by my dentist and it was recorded by a BBC camera crew, but I think that Dr GWFS asked me if I wanted to be on television on a day before the event itself.

I always like Dr GWFS and enjoyed going to the dentist. He had an accent I liked and the waiting room had posters that I liked in it, including one of The Muppets, advocating teeth brushing. There was also a poster I was not so keen on. It said that if you sucked your thumb you would end up having teeth that stuck out like a rabbit’s. I remember my mum assuring me that I would be all right, as I sucked two fingers on my right hand, and not either thumb. When you were finished having your teeth checked, Dr GWFS used to give you Dolly Mixtures to eat as you left. I remember these as being special very small versions of Dolly Mixtures, but I can’t be sure of that.

The dental surgery was only a couple of minutes walk from our house, in an extension of a very similar suburban house. You entered the surgery through the back garden of the house, and I remember that after I had been hypnotized and filmed, the camera crew filmed us, me and my mum, walking up along the pavement towards the gate to the surgery, which I thought was cheating a bit. They may have had to film us twice, as I kept looking at the camera. Though this footage did not appear in the final version of Horizon: Hypnosis and Healing (check the real title of this), I remember this part as if I was watching it. I can see my mum and me, walking towards the camera crew, as if I were standing and filming it from across the road. I was wearing a blue and red striped long sleeved top. In my memory of this part, my mum was wearing a tan raincoat, but I don’t remember her having one in real life.

There were two other children being hypnotized that day too, for the same programme. One was a small boy and the other a girl of about 14, with long black hair. I was told that even if the hypnosis went well, there was no guarantee that I would make it into the final programme.

I remember sitting in the chair and hearing the story about the rabbits and the fox. I knew that there were no rabbits and no fox, and I didn’t feel as if I was hypnotized at all. But I wanted to be on television, and so when Dr GWFS said that my left hand was feeling light and was going to drift up into the air, I lifted my left hand a little bit into the air, giving it a bit of a help along, pretending to be hypnotized. I remember looking at my arm and being shocked to see that my hand was right above my head, and I had to assume that I was hypnotized after all.

(On the video of this moment, it would seem that my hand barely lifts off the arm of the dentist’s chair.)

I don’t remember anything else about the day, until they filmed us, allegedly walking into the dental surgery. I don’t remember watching the programme when it was aired and although Uncle Peter gave us the Betamax tape of the programme, we could never watch it until the invention of DVD. Around 2010 or maybe 2013, I asked my dad to look out the tape and I had the programme transferred over to DVD. It annoys me that the video footage starts at the moment of the programme, without a BBC ident. or introduction. It feels as if a possibly crucial part of the footage has been lost.


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