KB: Hi Derek? How’s it going? Are you OK to chat for a little while?

DA: Yes, for a little while. You’ll have to forgive me, I have a head cold.

KB: OK, I won’t keep you for long. The first thing I wanted to ask, was when did you first realise you had this gift? What happened?

DA: Well I was a young boy, I wasn’t quite seven, and I experienced a spirit person in my grandmother’s house.

I saw a man in the bedroom and told my grandmother. She went and brought out a tin box with photos inside of people I had never seen, and amongst them were two photos of the man I had seen. It was the my late grandfather. So that was my first experience of my grandfather showing himself to me. My grandmother was a working medium so she understood, and my mum said: ‘oh well Derek’s got the gift as well.’ She explained to me I would start experiencing impressions and how to develop my gift.

KB: Does it not ever freak you out? Maybe not now you’ve been doing it so long, but to begin with?

DA: I suppose once I was told I had the gift, I thought: ‘well I don’t really want to be seeing ghosts – I’m not interested’ – so to a degree it did, but it didn’t stop me developing.

KB: And you said you would receive “impressions”. So what does that mean? That the spirits revealed themselves in different ways, as well as you seeing them like you saw your grandad?

DA: Yes all different ways and things, from hearing sounds, having impressions, or feeling somebody sitting on the end of my bed, or fragrances in the room. Later on I was told by my grandmother the fragrances were the scents of women who would come to see how I was doing.

KB: I announced that I’d be talking to you on my Facebook page to see if anyone had any questions. Some said mediums prey on the vulnerable and exploit people’s grief, which is also Derren Brown’s opinion as he demonstrated with that seance trick he did on TV. How do you respond to this?

DA: I’ve been working as a medium on and off for 40 years, and I don’t worry about what these cynical people have to say, even Derren Brown. I work all over the world and I don’t exploit people, and I certainly don’t manipulate the vulnerable. Like Derren does, I fill theatres with sensible, intelligent people. If they are bereaved and I counsel them in any way, I do it for the good. So it doesn’t matter what this, that or the other says about what I do. I’m not looking to exploit anyone. I like people to open their minds and see what’s real, and if they connect, that’s fine and if they don’t want to believe that’s OK.

KB: What do you feel about the claims that it was all made up in the Most Haunted show? [The show was discredited by its resident parapsychologist Dr Ciaran O’Keeffe, who publicly claimed that he threw in red herrings and made up fictional characters to see if Derek would take the bait, and he did, appearing to get possessed by the fictional characters].

DA: Well they said that the whole show was made up! But it wasn’t as simple as that. I didn’t see any jiggery pokery going on, ever. These people who made these statements had they even been on any of the shoots? No! They made their claims after watching things on screen, how can they do that? But look, we had a worldwide audience, so these cynical one or two people don’t matter. I think it was a case of wannabes and the little green eyed monster.

KB: Is it hard to do your job while being under the pressure of being on camera, where you have to deliver but the ghosts don’t want to talk?

DA: These are very journalistic questions... no, I’m not under any pressure to deliver. I wouldn’t have it that way. If at any given time, any of the crew said ‘come on Derek you’ve got to deliver’ I would have said ‘bye bye’. I am a professional, and responsible medium and I take my job very seriously and responsibly.

KB: But there is a lot of humour and comedy in the shows. The “Mary does Dick” thing in Most Haunted, where you all ended up laughing, and also there is a Harry Hill’s TV Burp sketch which is really funny. Do you see the funny side of it or does it rile you?

DA: Of course I do. I’ve been on Bo Selecta, Dr Who, lots of these shows and I love taking part in these shows. And I was in Big Fat Gypsy Gangster – how funny was that? So yes, I can see the funny side and I like to show that side, that I am a normal man with a sense of humour.

KB: What do you think about films such as Sixth Sense?

DA: I enjoy those types of films, because I know they use mediums to get their advice about how it works. If they didn’t, perhaps I wouldn’t enjoy them.

KB: When you are talking to anyone, a stranger you meet in passing, or for instance me on the phone, can you sense stuff?

DA: No, I practice a very responsible code and I only open up to my spiritual connection when I am working and close it when I am not working.

I am a normal father, husband, grandfather, I have animals to look after, just a normal man...so I have to be cut off from it. I can’t or won’t be asked ‘what can you sense from me?’ unless I am in professional circumstances.

KB: I have a few questions now from our readers. Rex Morgan, asked if you are ever asked to solve crimes.

DA: Yes. A number of them. And if your next question is ‘what have you solved?’, the police don’t want to put on record that they have asked for the help of a medium. They’ve said before, ‘we cannot say you have helped solve the case’. You have to understand. But I know, and my family and those close to me know I have worked on cases. There was one time, I was flown to America, to California, to an area where two people were murdered. I was flown, and a professor greeted me. I took my wife with me. He asked me to get out of the vehicle and walk up to the home to see if I could get any impressions.When I walked down the side, I touched the wall, the brickwork, and got an impression of a man and woman screaming. It was like a playback, and it was in the daylight, and the woman was on the floor, the man had attacked her, and there was another scene of her lying there. I was so shocked. I came away, and went back to the vehicle, where I was asked ‘what did you sense?’ I said I was horrified. When I told him what I had sensed, and told him I had seen a black man and the woman was connected to him, I was told I was on track, and told it was OJ Simpson. He got away with murder and I was shocked and horrified. Later he went on trial and got life for kidnapping and armed robbery, so justice got him in the end.

KB: Are you telling me this on the record?

DA: I’m telling you on or off the record. It’s what happened.

KB: OK. That’s all a little bit scary.

DA: I think he wanted to test me. He paid for our air fare, put us up in a hotel. When he took us to the area we didn’t know where we were.

At this point the line goes fuzzy – quite common with my phone, not necessarily a sign of anything spooky going on – making it difficult for Derek to hear the next question.

KB: OK, here’s a question from Tim Caira. He asks how does it work, that when you first communicate with the spirit, it’s all vague, like you’re trying to get the name and you might just have the D, but once you get the connection, they get chatty?

DA: Sorry I can’t hear you.

KB: (Repeats).

DA: The whole simple truth is when a medium starts to work he might only get impressions such as letters, but as you go on the connection gets sharper. That takes years to develop.

KB: Ok this last question is from Barbara Hennessey. She wants to know how you can have a conversation with an ancient Egyptian, in English.

DA: I have a spirit guide – all mediums work with them – mine is Sam. Sam is the interpreter. He is the one they are talking to and Sam tells me.

* Derek will be coming to the Grosvenor G Casino in Church Road, Southend, on Thursday, November 12.

The “demonstration” starts at 9.30pm.

For tickets, visit grosvenorcasinos.com