ITV seem to have moved on from reality TV to losing-touch-with-reality TV, with their new daily daytime show 'Have I Been Here Before?', a sort of 'This is Your Life' for reincarnation enthusiasts.
The programme features Andrea Foulkes, a 'regression therapist', who probes a different celebrity each day using her "serene and hypnotic voice" (serene, hypnotic, and incredibly annoying), thus unlocking the past lives of both the famous and the famously deluded. Andrea, who has the nerve to pronounce her name 'An-DRAY-a', explains "I have been quoted as saying that regression is one of the greatest experiences you can have in the 21st century. I say that because I think it's probably one of the most illuminating experiences you can have in today's society". Yes, and because you get paid to do it.
This afternoon's edition featured DJ, TV personality, and all round nasty piece of work, Lisa I'Anson, fresh from her 2005 Celebrity Big Brother experience. She began the show by announcing that "my mother always drummed into me the word humility", which must be why she constantly strutted around the BB house in a crown, telling Germaine Greer to fetch her drinks.
As host Phillip Schofield said to her, "You don't strike me as the sort of person who would freely give of your emotions on television", thus proving he had no idea who she was.
But then neither did Lisa. After a bit of good old-fashioned regression, and the revelation that "I like lettuces and stuff", the I'Anson decided she was a monk in 18th century Italy, with a name she couldn't quite pronounce (a bit like our Andrea). She went on to describe an employer with whom she lived, stating confidently "He's a merchant". Andrea (emphasis on the second syllable) pressed her for details, asking "Where do you live with this family?", prompting the reply from Lisa, "Venice".
So that's the Merchant of Venice then. Am I the only one having slight doubts about this regression thing?
Not that I should be cynical. When instructed to "Go to the last day of that lifetime", Lisa's vision was spookily accurate. She stated: "I can see myself on a bed. I'm dying I think". So it's official - Lisa I'Anson spent the last day of her life dying. Bit of a shock there.
Hypnosis over, it was down to 'Historian Detective' Jules Hudson, to check out the facts. This basically involved wandering around with a shoulder bag and a scarf, talking rubbish. Though obviously that's a subjective opinion. Albeit an accurate one.
Jules told us that Lisa's "description of a brown habit is surprisingly telling" because only one order of monks (the Franciscan Friars) wore brown habits. So that's just the Franciscans, and every monk ever seen on screen in the history of film and television. Quite spooky that one.
In the words of Lisa I'Anson, "I was freaked". Though as she admitted herself, "I think it helps if you have a belief in reincarnation to do something like regression". Yes, because otherwise you'd basically just be handing over your money to a charlatan.