Ian Lawman Discusses Challenges Of New Solo Show 'The Yorkshire Exorcist'
Photo: © Discovery+
Ian Lawman, a Scunthorpe-born psychic medium and ordained exorcist, is no stranger to television screens. Known for his role on 'Help! My House Is Haunted,' Ian is now venturing into a solo show focused on exorcism, rather than traditional ghost hunting. The one-hour special, titled 'The Yorkshire Exorcist,' is set to air on the Really channel and Discovery+ on October 28.
Unlike traditional ghost-hunting shows, 'The Yorkshire Exorcist' focuses on the practice of exorcism, which, as Ian describes, "is a solo pursuit requiring total focus." Ian remarked, "It's a big kind of changing dynamics, really. I've got nobody else to spin off." On 'Help! My House Is Haunted,' Ian could count on his co-stars to share the burden of the investigation. But on 'The Yorkshire Exorcist,' Ian said, "It was massive pressure and, it did scare me. I've performed many exorcisms over the years, but when you're doing it on television to produce a show, it becomes more complicated."
Ian Lawman became an ordained exorcist with the Church of England in 2014 and is also a part of their Deliverance Ministry. Despite his official status, he has faced challenges within the institution itself. "The resistance is massive," Ian acknowledges. He explains that his tattoos, for instance, aren't necessarily against the church's "rules and regulations," but they do raise eyebrows. Furthermore, Ian adds, "I wasn't allowed to use my psychic abilities as part of the show."
Ian made the decision to disengage from any diocese, stating, "I just felt if I can do it this way, I can reach out to a lot more people. And the diocese do still contact me obviously, because it's a lot easier to go to me directly and go through the bishop now."
As an exorcist, Ian has an intriguing assortment of tools that he takes to investigations in his trademark brown leather bag. "I have several Bibles, Old Testament, New Testament. I have my prayer book, which is only exorcist are entitled to hold. I have holy water, several medals that we use for possession, stoles, and anointing oils," he reveals.
Photo: © Discovery+
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The one-hour special follows Michelle, a 44-year-old woman from Skelmersdale, Lancashire, who believes she is plagued by a supernatural attachment. "Several cases a year you're dealing with possessions or attachments," he says, adding that Michelle had more of an "attachment" rather than a "possession."
Viewers will get to follow Ian's whole journey as he attempts to understand Michelle's problem and help her. "I think the thing was, is we filmed it 'as live'. So there was a massive pep talk for me and luckily we were able to pull it off virtually as live," Ian stated.
Michelle found herself in a desperate situation. "I was her last resort, which is huge amounts of pressure because she's tried several priests before different avenues," Ian revealed. "And her family are there saying 'please help my mummy,' 'please help my wife'. It's a big responsibility."
It would be easy for sceptics to dismiss Michelle's experience as a figment of her imagination. However, Ian emphasises the importance of listening to people's experiences and taking them seriously. "I've had her full medical reports and psyche reports in front of me, so I can clearly see she has an amazing bill of health," he notes.
Ian was very forthcoming about the importance of obtaining explicit permission before performing an exorcism. "When we dealt with Michelle and when we're dealing with anybody, even through the church, when they're getting into assessed, the doctor who's assessing them will explain what goes on during an exorcism and explain the process, and they will ask for their permission before we perform that action," he said.
Interestingly, Ian says that these reports are a cornerstone of his decision to undertake an exorcism. "It's a very fine line between mental health and having weird experiences," he mentions. He insists on reviewing medical and psychological reports before proceeding with any case. "If there's signs before [the reported paranormal experience], then you know, it's down to the bishop and down to the powers above whether we can continue or not," Ian states.
Another layer of complexity is added when the person at the centre of the case is seemingly resistant to help, something that Michelle seems to be doing at the start of the episode. Ian acknowledges that demonic entities could potentially influence someone's willingness to undergo medical or psychological testing. "A demonic entity inside me would know that I'm having an exorcism shortly. So yeah, could that entity fool the person doing that psyche test? Totally," he explains.
In previous episodes of 'Help! My House Is Haunted,' Ian often spoke about the necessity of finding a demon's name to facilitate its expulsion. He told us that this isn't just a myth propagated by Hollywood, it's an actual practice. "When you've got a name in front of you and you know what you're dealing with, you will know their weaknesses," he says. However, in Michelle's case, it wasn't possible to obtain a name, leading Ian to categorise her experience as an "attachment" rather than a "full possession."
Even an attachment can bring a lot of stress and misery to its victim, but when an attachment escalates to a possession, things can get a whole lot worse. Alarmingly, in the episode Ian is told by demonologist Ben Winfield that Michelle might be just "days, weeks, or months," from a full possession.
When it comes to performing an exorcism, Ian tells us that the prayers he uses are not one-size-fits-all. "We're trained to use several prayers and interact with certain prayers, as well. Sometimes if we're dealing with somebody Catholic, we'll introduce Catholic prayer, even though I'm not Catholic," Ian explained. And for skeptics out there, you don't need to be a believer to benefit from an exorcism. "An exorcism can be performed on anybody. A deliverance, you have to be religious, you have to believe in God for that to work," he clarified.
Ian told us, "A lot of people have said that when I perform any form of exorcism or any cleansing or anything, I do become Yorkshire." Indeed, his distinctive accent becomes more pronounced when he is in 'full prayer mode,' a trait he traces back to his school days. "I used to sit cross-legged on the freezing parquet floor in a school hall having to say it. And I can always remember having to stand up in assembly and say the Lord's Prayer," he shared.
Ian expects that the show will face its fair share of criticism, a situation he accepts as part and parcel of working within the paranormal industry. "I think you tend to find criticism comes from other paranormal people rather than people on the outside. And I'd like to think, you know, I'm well respected in the industry. I've got a lot of friends," he remarked.
Ian concluded, "I think paranormal fans will love it. I think there's going to be people out there who are going to watch it for the sake of watching an exorcism."
Whether you're a believer or a skeptic, 'The Yorkshire Exorcist' gives viewers a dramatic glimpse of an age-old ritual that continues to fascinate to this day. The one-hour special will air on October 28 at 10pm on the Really channel and will be available to stream on demand on Discovery+.
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