Published: 30/10/2015 15:12 - Updated: 30/10/2015 15:20

It's all elementary for the hipster Sherlock Holmes

Colin Cloud
Colin Cloud

BENEDICT Cumberbatch is not the only one who can claim to be a modern day Sherlock Holmes.

The same has been said of Colin Cloud — and he has no need to rely on scriptwriters to achieve his amazing feats of deduction.

Cloud readily acknowledges it was fellow Scot Arthur Conan Doyle’s creation who set him on a path to a career that has seen him sell out shows on the Edinburgh Fringe and sign a television deal with US network NBC.

It was reading Doyle’s stories about the consulting detective with the silly name that led young Cloud to try and develop the keen eye for detail that Holmes used to combat crime in Victorian London and foggy Dartmoor.

"The way the stories are written through Watson’s eyes, I assumed I was readig a biography and I was reading about a real person," Cloud admitted.

"I remember being about 10 and someone telling me that Sherlock Holmes never actually existed. I was gutted, obviously, but by then I’d already been captivated by this idea of being able to deduce things about people just by looking at them."

Watching hypnotist Paul McKenna on television also fuelled Cloud’s fascination with psychology and science and, after consulting a few books on the subject, he found he could even successfully hypnotise his school friends — "Some of them are still under now," he laughed.

Cloud left school aged just 15 to study forensic science, but started to take an interest in performance.

"I began to realise that the best people at analysing others were probably stand-up comedians, who are very quickly able to pick up things about their audience and use it to their advantage," he said.

"I don’t know if they are aware of it, but it’s almost like a psychology experiment in front of an audience."

That led on to Cloud taking his profiling abilities out of the laboratory and into the comedy clubs.

Yet his intention was still to pursue a career in criminal investigation.

"I was in my final year and working very closely with the police on real cases, but it came down to whether I would rather be in an office all day, or out travelling the world? It was a no brainer," he said.

"The luxury I have at the moment is that I almost get to test out theories and hypotheses almost every day on stage.

"But when I first performed in front of a live audience, I was only about 12 or 13. I used to stand in the wings on stage feeling physically sick, asking why you are doing this. But when you walk off stage after it’s gone well, you go: ‘That’s why I’m doing it.’ That’s what makes it worthwhile."

Under Cloud’s forensic gaze, he can uncover people’s pin numbers or email passwords and other information without realising they are doing so.

However, Cloud — who has been pitted against self-proclaimed psychics to see who is more accurate — points out there is no magic in what he does.

"We all do this, we all watch people constantly," he said.

"But I think it’s actually easier doing this with strangers. When we are with people we know, we put on masks and become the character they expect us to be, whereas when you are watching people on the street, you get a better sense of what they are thinking."

Although he has no plans to quit the UK, these days Cloud finds himself spending more time in the USA and performing around the world, especially now that he is at work on his first television series.

"It’s been quite a journey, but it all started with seeing that book aged six in the school library," Cloud acknowledged.

Cloud, who was brought up a few miles away at Harthill, has even brought Holmes’s deductive techniques full circle by performing in the anatomy lab where Doyle was taught by Joseph Bell, the real life model for Holmes.

"It’s a beautiful room, but to know that I’m performing in the place where Doyle first started to think about Sherlock Holmes, is quite a daunting feeling," he said.

"It was wonderful to be there."

Colin Cloud: Forensic Mind Reader, is at the OneTouch Theatre, Eden Court, Inverness, at 8pm on Saturday 31st October and The Lemon Tree, Aberdeen, on Sunday.

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