Dave Gorman's Important Astrology Experiment

A 6 part series for BBC2. First aired Sunday, September 1st 2002

promo photo

With tongue firmly placed in cheek, the series asked whether or not it was wise to follow the advice of astrologers?

Every day millions of people consult their horoscope and yet the world of science has not been brave enough to answer this question. Until now.

For forty days and forty nights I gave up my normal life and submitted to the will of 20 astrologers. My task: to follow their advice. To ignore speculation, prediction and guesswork but at all times to follow instructions and pursue luck.

The horoscopes were written by 20 astrologers. All were widely available, all are widely read. None knew that the experiment was taking place - nothing was written in order to help, (or hinder)me - they were all just genuine horoscopes that were available to anyone during the time of the experiment, either in newspapers or on websites.

The control experiment

Dave's twin Nick

At the same time, a control experiment spent the 40 days ignoring his horoscope. The control experiment is someone born at the same time and in the same place as me. On our astrological charts every planet is in the same house. It isn't very surprising really as he's my twin brother, Nick. As you can see we're not identical twins (luckily for him) but our astrological charts are, near as damn it, identical. Whatever a horoscope tells me to do, it tells him also.

One astrologer got into a strange argument with me about this when we were both on a radio show. He reckoned Nick wasn't a fair control experiment because, even though we're twins, a proper astrologer would find differences in our charts. I asked him whether he wrote a column in a newspaper. He did. So I pointed out that his column gave the two of us the same advice. "Yeah... but that's just a newspaper column... it's a proper chart that counts." "So nobody should read your column?" "Well, no..." Hmm, I think someone was taking the series a bit too seriously.

Incidentally fact-fans, some people have said it's odd that Nick wasn't mentioned in The Dave Gorman Collection but I think it would have been even odder if our parents had named both twin boys Dave!
However, Nick is mentioned in the book of the story. He's on page 2 or 3 depending on which edition you have.

So, whose life was happiest at the end of the 40 days? The twin who obeyed the horoscopes or the twin who ignored them? To know that you need to measure happiness.

So, how did we do that?

Well, first, I explain to our studio audience what happened to me.

in the studio

I can play in video tape to prove it's a true story. In this picture I'm explaining how Linda Barker - one of the Changing Rooms interior designers is helping me to paint my bedroom.

Once I've explained a few days of my life under the astrological regime, Nick checks his diary and tells us what he was getting up to at the same time. He doesn't deliberately go against the astrological instructions... he has to not-read his horoscope and just live his life.

Then we have a panel of experts


The panel give their opinion as to how we've been affected in three areas vital to our happiness: Love, health and wealth.

I think you'd agree that this fantastic panel of celebrity experts is definitely the most scientific way of measuring happiness.

Our expert in love is This Morning's Agony Aunt, Denise Robertson, our expert in health is GMTV's Doctor Hilary Jones and our expert in wealth is BBC2's Your Money Or Your Life presenter Alvin Hall

Casting Votes

audience voting

The central section of the studio audience is the astrologically balanced jury of juries - 12 groups of 12 people each comprising one of each star sign.
They cast votes, awarding happiness points to both Nick and myself in the areas of Love and Health, while Alvin calculates our relative ups and downs in Wealth. We use the metric pleasure/decimal gladness system of measuring happiness (mpdg) where each point is equal to one pound sterling (what do you mean you haven't heard of it?).

The difference between Nick's happiness and mine must clearly be the result of following my horoscope.
The results are plotted on my happiness graph. If I end up in the void we will have proved nothing. If I'm in the triangle of delight we will know that it is wise to follow astrology, if I'm in the triangle of gloom we will know that it is folly.
So, how did the audience vote? Does astrology win or lose in the end?
Oh there's no point me telling you now... you should have watched the show. Besides, it's not the result that matters, it's the journey.

Here's a short clip from the show:

Once or twice a week someone asks me where they can get the series on DVD or when I'm going to release it. If you take a look at the shop page, you'll see that it's not there. Everything that is available is there. I don't have any incentive to keep that sort of thing a secret after all. The simple answer as to why I don't release it is that it isn't mine to release. It's owned by the BBC. I literally know as much as you do about the chances of it being released. I don't ask. There's no point really, I've no desire to campaign for it - nobody's going to release it because I want them to - I have a financial incentive for it to be out there. Besides I'm much more excited by future projects than I am about trying to hawk my past.