Derek Acorah

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Derek Acorah
Derek Acorah 2013 2013-11-21 01-05.jpeg
Derek Acorah in 2013
Derek Francis Jason Johnson

(1950-01-27)27 January 1950
Bootle, Lancashire, England
Died4 January 2020(2020-01-04) (aged 69)
OccupationSpiritual medium, author, TV celebrity
Known forMost Haunted
Derek Acorah's Ghost Towns
Granada Breeze
Antiques Ghost Show
Spouse(s)Gwen Acorah (1995[citation needed]–2020, his death)
Children2[citation needed]

Derek Francis Johnson (27 January 1950 – 4 January 2020),[1] known professionally as Derek Acorah,[2] was an English self-styled spiritual medium.[3] He was best known for his television work on Most Haunted, broadcast on Living TV (2002–2010). His career as a medium was punctuated by allegations of fakery and he also attracted controversy over a number of seances during which he, reportedly, made contact with high-profile figures.[4][5]


Acorah's first television appearance was on the satellite TV channel Granada Breeze in 1996. During his five years with the channel, he began with Livetime before later appearing weekly on Psychic Livetime. He also appeared on Predictions which started out as a showcase for various studio guests but later became a vehicle for Acorah alone and renamed Predictions with Derek Acorah.[6][7]

In July 2001, Acorah joined a new British television programme called Haunting Truths. It was subsequently sold to Living and renamed Most Haunted. He worked on the show for six series.

In 2002, Acorah also featured in the television series Antiques Ghost Show, and in 2004 he was presented with the Variety Club of Great Britain's Multichannel TV Personality of the Year Award.[8]

Yvette Fielding, a presenter and executive producer of Most Haunted, initially stated "there is no acting on this programme, none whatsoever. Everything you see and you hear is real."[4] However, significant media attention was directed at the show in 2005, after Acorah claimed to channel spirits with names that had allegedly been suggested to him in advance, such as "Rik Eedles" and "Kreed Kafer", which are anagrams of "Derek Lies" and "Derek Faker" respectively.[9][10][11] Speaking in 2006, Fielding said of Acorah "We tell people everything is real, then it turns out he was a fake, so he had to go."[12]

After his 2005 departure from Most Haunted, Acorah filmed a one-off special for LivingTV, Derek Acorah's Quest for Guy Fawkes followed by Derek Acorah's Ghost Towns with Ruggie Media. This programme ran for three series. In 2008, Acorah took part in two series for Sky Real Lives titled Derek Acorah. In July 2006, he made a cameo appearance in the Doctor Who episode "Army of Ghosts".[13][14]

In November 2009, Acorah featured in Michael Jackson: The Live Seance, in which he was shown on live television attempting to contact the singer's spirit. The programme was named the worst TV programme of 2009 in a poll of more than 9,000 Yahoo! users.[15][16]

Acorah's other television work includes Celebrity Five Go to..., Harry Hill's TV Burp, Celebrity Quitters and Paranormal Egypt. He also made appearances on Celebrity Juice, Loose Lips, Richard and Judy, Bo' Selecta!, Brainiac: Science Abuse, The Paul O'Grady Show, The Weakest Link and Loose Women as well as a cameo in the 2011 film Big Fat Gypsy Gangster.[17] In 2017, Derek played a small role in the UK horror comedy Crispy's Curse,[18] although the film failed to achieve a general release.

In May 2012, Acorah claimed to have received a psychic message from Madeleine McCann via a 'spirit guide', stating that the child had died some time ago but would soon be reincarnated.[19] After widespread media outrage, Acorah used the same newspaper to publish an apology to McCann's parents.[19]

In December 2015, Derek Acorah, alongside Sean Reynolds and Rebecca Palmer launched their new 12-part television show entitled The Past Hunters.[20]

Derek competed in the twentieth series of Celebrity Big Brother.[21] Derek left the house on the final night in fourth place.

Personal life[edit]

Born Derek Johnson in Bootle, he was known professionally as Derek Acorah.[22] He lived in Scarisbrick near Southport, in North West England.[23] As a young man, Acorah was on the books of Liverpool during the Bill Shankly era but was released by the club without playing a first team game.[24] He carried on playing at other clubs and finished his football career in Australia.[25]

Acorah together with his wife Gwen was a patron for the charity Pathfinder Guide Dog Programme, a registered charity which provides guide dogs for the blind.[26]

In March 2014, he was convicted of driving without due care and attention and failing to provide a breath sample following a car crash. Acorah had failed a roadside breath test but refused to give the required sample at a police station. He was banned from driving for 28 months and fined £1,000.[27][28]

Acorah died on 4 January 2020, aged 69, following a short illness. His wife later confirmed that Acorah had been hospitalised with pneumonia and later contracted sepsis.[29][30][31]


Shirley Ghostman was a parody, drawing on elements of Derek Acorah and Colin Fry and he invaded one of Acorah's shows.[32]


  • The Psychic World of Derek Acorah: Discover How to Develop Your Hidden Powers – Derek Acorah with John G. Sutton, Piatkus Books, 2003
  • The Psychic Adventures of Derek Acorah: Star of TV's "Most Haunted", Element Books 2004
  • Ghost Hunting with Derek Acorah – Derek Acorah, Element Books, 2005
  • Most Haunted: The Official Behind-the-Scenes Guide – Yvette Fielding, Derek Acorah, 2005
  • Haunted Britain – Derek Acorah, Harper Element, 2006
  • Haunted Britain and Ireland – by Derek Acorah
  • Ghost Towns – Derek Acorah, Harper Element, 2006
  • Derek Acorah's Haunted!
  • Derek Acorah – Amazing Psychic Stories
  • Derek Acorah – Extreme Psychic


  1. ^ Hayward, Anthony (5 January 2020). "Spirit medium who found fame in the TV series Most Haunted". The Guardian. Retrieved 9 February 2020.
  2. ^ Bentley, David (4 January 2020). "This is how Derek Acorah died as wife reveals cause of death for TV medium". Birmingham Mail. Trinity Mirror. Retrieved 4 January 2020.
  3. ^ "Derek Acorah - Psychic Medium". Archived from the original on 5 January 2017. Retrieved 26 February 2017.
  4. ^ a b Bainton, Roy (17 January 2013). The Mammoth Book of Unexplained Phenomena: From Bizarre Biology to Inexplicable Astronomy. Constable & Robinson Ltd. pp. 120–. ISBN 9781780337968. Archived from the original on 11 January 2014. Retrieved 22 December 2013.
  5. ^ Matt Roper (28 October 2005). "Spooky Truth: TV's Most Haunted Con Exposed". The Mirror. Archived from the original on 20 May 2007. Retrieved 7 May 2007.
  6. ^ "Celebrity Quitters - Channel 5". Archived from the original on 23 September 2015. Retrieved 26 February 2017.
  7. ^ Ludden, Ken (October 2011). Mystic Apprentice Volume 5: Psychic Skills. p. 271. ISBN 9781105023552.
  8. ^ Celebrity medium Derek Acorah – Entertainment – getreading – Reading Post Archived 7 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine. getreading (15 April 2010). Retrieved on 2012-05-16.
  9. ^ Catchpole, Charlie (4 April 2005). "More mystery on Most Haunted". The Express. Archived from the original on 7 August 2016 – via LexisNexis.
  10. ^ Chalmers, Robert (10 July 2005). "He sees dead people". Independent on Sunday. Archived from the original on 7 August 2016 – via LexisNexis.
  11. ^ Nevin, Charles (26 August 2005). "Psychic Derek - Charles Nevin meets Derek Acorah". the Guardian. Archived from the original on 21 September 2016. Retrieved 29 July 2016.
  12. ^ Ellis, James (30 October 2006). "60 SECONDS: Yvette Fielding". the Metro. Archived from the original on 25 June 2017. Retrieved 25 June 2017.
  13. ^ 1972-, Smith?, Robert J. (Robert Joseph) (2012). Who is the doctor : the unofficial guide to Doctor Who, the new series. p. 115. ISBN 9781550229844. OCLC 905080310.
  14. ^ Mark, Campbell (1 January 2011). "177". A brief guide to Doctor Who. Constable & Robinson Ltd. ISBN 9781849018869. OCLC 813165346.
  15. ^ "Michael Jackson: The Live Seance voted worst television programme - Telegraph". The Daily Telegraph. London. Archived from the original on 16 December 2013. Retrieved 10 July 2013.
  16. ^ French, Dan (9 November 2009). "Derek Acorah responds to séance criticism". Digital Spy. Archived from the original on 3 December 2013. Retrieved 11 July 2013.
  17. ^ Derek Acorah on IMDb
  18. ^ "Crispy's Curse (2017)". Archived from the original on 13 February 2017. Retrieved 21 August 2017.
  19. ^ a b "TV psychic Derek Acorah apologises for 'Maddie is dead' claim". The Daily Telegraph. 16 May 2012. Archived from the original on 14 December 2017. Retrieved 4 April 2018.
  20. ^ "A Christmas seance – we discover why NOW is the spookiest time of year". 9 December 2015. Archived from the original on 9 January 2017. Retrieved 26 February 2017.
  21. ^ Kelly, Helen (20 August 2017). "Celebrity Big Brother 2017: Derek brands Sarah 'out of control' in shock nomination". Archived from the original on 21 August 2017. Retrieved 21 August 2017.
  22. ^ BBC (8 December 2013). "BBC News - Derek Acorah charged after Southport car crash". BBC Online. Archived from the original on 24 December 2013. Retrieved 23 December 2013.
  23. ^ "The Scarisbrick psychic on show in Liverpool - Derek Acorah speaks". Southport Visiter. 9 May 2008. Archived from the original on 12 May 2015. Retrieved 11 April 2015.
  24. ^ Hunter, Steve. "Acorah: I predicted Kenny return". Liverpool FC. Retrieved 4 January 2020.
  25. ^ Celebrity Kop Club: Derek Acorah Archived 2 April 2015 at the Wayback Machine
  26. ^ Fanning, Gary (21 June 2014). "TV psychic Derek Acorah visits Pathfinder Guide Dogs' shop in Hamilton". Archived from the original on 23 November 2015. Retrieved 26 February 2017.
  27. ^ Waddington, Marc (12 March 2014). "TV psychic Derek Acorah given a two-year driving ban following high speed crash". Liverpool Echo. Archived from the original on 13 March 2014. Retrieved 20 March 2014.
  28. ^ "Derek Acorah banned from driving after Southport crash". BBC News. 12 March 2014. Archived from the original on 15 March 2014. Retrieved 20 March 2014.
  29. ^ "TV medium Derek Acorah dies aged 69". BBC News. BBC Online. 4 January 2020. Archived from the original on 4 January 2020. Retrieved 4 January 2020.
  30. ^ Taylor, Joshua; Saunders, Emmeline (4 January 2020). "Derek Acorah dies aged 69 after falling into coma". Daily Mirror. Trinity Mirror. Retrieved 4 January 2020.
  31. ^ Derek Acorah's cause of death confirmed as sepsis after 'awful flu'
  32. ^ "Watch Shirley Ghostman invade Derek Acorah's stage". Chortle. 30 September 2016. Archived from the original on 4 August 2017. Retrieved 3 August 2017.

External links[edit]