The British Premonitions Bureau Explored In New BBC Sounds Series

October 28, 2022 1:00 AM ‐ RadioParanormalPsychic Readings

This article is more than one year old.

The Premonitions Bureau - Sam Knight
Available on BBC Sounds now, a Radio 4 series exploring the British Premonitions Bureau, which was set up by psychologist, Dr John Barker in 1966 in the wake of the Aberfan disaster.

'The Premonitions Bureau' is an audio series is based on the bestselling book of the same name by New York Times journalist and author Sam Knight. The story is read Richard Goulding and told through eight episodes, clocking in at just over an hour and a half in total.

The story follows the real-life establishment of the bureau, which attempted to scientifically record and investigate the claims of those who believed they had the power of foresight and could predict an impending disaster. From coal mining disasters, to the largest train and plane accidents ever recorded 'The Premonitions Bureau' is an enthralling and eerie true story of psychology, science and the supernatural.

The story is less a journey to the most powerful and unsettling reaches of the human mind, and more an exploration of Barker's attempts to prove what the brain can do. Where most would see premonitions as coincidence, Barker saw an opportunity to gather premonitions from people across the country. He hoped these predictions would server as an early warning system for major disasters, but his work at the bureau ultimately led him to uncover a prediction about his own death.

The story begins near Merthyr Tydfil at the site of the Aberfan catastrophe. We hear of the moments leading up to what was one of Britain's most tragic disasters, of those individuals who claim to have predicted it, and find out why Barker believed he was on the edge of something momentous. The event and Barker's subsequent request for premonitions of the Aberfan disaster further fulled his theories on the reality of precognition.

After a serial record breaker puts aside his strange uneasiness to attempt to break his own speed record, with fatal consequences, the Premonitions Bureau begins to be taken much more seriously, and the reported foresights begin to snowball. The bureau gets its first major hit with an eerily accurate prediction about a downed plane. The same seer then gives Barker cause for concern with the prediction of his demise.

Another accurate foresight is recorded just hours after a daring Russian space mission blasts off. With an ever increasing amount of foresights being recorded by the bureau, and most not able to be verified, science journalist Peter Fairley becomes skeptical, but a near fatal rail accident puts the Premonitions Bureau back in the headlines.

Barker eventually publishes a book, which receives very mixed reviews, something he failed to predict. Meanwhile the Premonitions Bureau is thrown into the spotlight for failing to warn of a bigger disaster closer to home. There's further problems when the identities of the bureau's two most successful seers are publicised.

'The Premonitions Bureau' is available on BBC Sounds now, it's an abridged version of Sam Knight's 2022 Sunday Times bestseller, which is available for Kindle and as a full six-and-a-half-hour audio book on Audible. You can also pre-order the print edition, which will be available next year.

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