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If you Sphinx this is spooky.. Scot Tessa Dunlop and TV psychic Derek Acorah turn tomb raiders to explore the ancient mysteries of Egypt.

Byline: By Brian McIver

THEIR secrets have lain hidden and undisturbed among the stone ruins for centuries.

Surrounded by myths and superstition, the pharaohs and gods of ancient Egypt have remained some of the most mysterious legends of the ancient worlds - until psychic investigator Derek Acorah turned up and blew the sand off their secrets.

According to his Scots co-presenter Tessa Dunlop, the flamboyant medium amazed local experts and seasoned Egyptologists alike when they spent a month visiting ancient tombs and pyramids all over the ancient north African country.

Popular historian Tessa joined Derek on a month-long expedition to bring his particular style of psychic tomb raiding to the ruins and temples for a new Living TV series, Paranormal Egypt.

And she said that in their short time exploring the catacombs and sarcophaguses of Egypt, the Most Haunted star's psychic skills and uncanny charisma not only converted her from being a paranormal cynic but also wowed teams of seasoned historians and experts with his insights .. from beyond the grave.

Tessa, best-known for her appearances on programmes such as Time Team, also admitted she was genuinely terrified at some of the spooky goings on.

"There were definitely some very scary moments and there were two incidents when I felt something very weird was happening," she said.

"Derek is incredible at what he does. There were times when I was really surprised at just how much he knew about things he just couldn't know.

"Before we went, I spent a long time reading at the British Library and really did a lot of research on Egypt.

"While we also worked with Egyptologists and senior experts from the area, who were also amazed at how much he knew.

"One time we were looking for the tomb of Imhotep, an Egyptian god, and we went to the wrong room. It turned out to be the home of the oldest mummy in Egypt but, as soon as we were in, he knew we were in the wrong room.

"He just seemed to know where to go and he would pick up on what had happened in that room.

"And when we were in a room with a Pharaoh who was buried with his jester in the same tomb, Derek

immediately picked up on that. I don't understand how he does these things, it kept me riveted throughout.

"One time, he went running down some sand dunes and said he had found the tomb of Imhotep - he could be right but you would have to dig to find out.

"There were some very respected historians and experts there, including a man who is the head of the Valley of the Kings, who were blown away.

"The Egyptian academics didn't know who Derek Acorah was and didn't have any preconceptions about him.

"Almost all of the people with us were totally convinced and entranced by him. One was swooning at his ability and another was sure he'd contacted a Pharaoh.

"By the end of one day, when we were researching the tomb of Rameses III, the man from the Valley of the Kings was chasing our minibus aswe left and shouting that Derek was, 'for real, for real, and wanting to know more. It was incredible."

The new series, starting tonight on Living TV, is the most ambitious TV paranormal project undertaken by popular medium Acorah.

He and Tessa were filmed investigating all the famous and mysterious sites across Egypt, from the Valley of the Kings to the Great Pyramid, the desert of Armana, the Sphinx and the tomb of Tutankhamen.

With exclusive and unprecedented private access to the historic sites, the team were joined by Egyptologists, including Dr Zahi Hawas, the Secretary General of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities.

They searched for the burial ground of the high priest turned god, Imhotep - who was portrayed as the villain in the recent blockbuster films The Mummy and The Mummy Returns - and also investigated some of the unsolved mysteries surrounding the legends of the pharaohs.

They include visiting the tombs of Rameses III and Tutankhamen, where Derek makes a startling claim regarding the death of the legendary boy king, with the Most Haunted star actually coming upwith a description of his death and revealing the name of the killer.

The pair toiled in the 50-degree heat of the summer North African desert as they scoured the plains for information and clues from beyond the grave.

As they took shade inside and beneath the pyramids and Sphinx, they ventured hundreds of feet deep inside the structures to find tombs.

Tessa, 32, who grew up on spooky Rannoch Moor in the Highlands and is now based in London, said the trip was an incredible experience.

But she admitted that what they found and felt in the exploration did give her the creeps.

"You hear a lot of talk about the curses and the death of Lord Carnarvon after he discovered the tomb of Tutankhamen. And, while you do think it is probably not true, there is a lot we don't know. The pharaohs were so superstitious and so obsessed with the after-life.

"They went to great lengths to hide their resting place, so who are we to say what is and what isn't true? I did start off as a cynic but, at the same time, I didn't go out there to prove or disprove anything about Derek.

"I don't have any tangible evidence to disprove what he says and it would be arrogant to just think it was not true.

"But there were a lot of experiences that I just couldn't explain and he knew a lot of personal things about me that he couldn't have known."

But the impossible insights didn't do nearly as much to convince Tessa there was more to life than her own encounter with some spooky Egyptian ghouls.

"There were two moments that really scared me and there were some very spooky locations, you just couldn't help it.

"I spent the first 18 years of my life living in Rannoch, which is very dark and quiet, so if I was going to be scared of ghosts, then I would have been. But we were visiting a tomb of a high priest in the town of Armana in the desert and it was very spooky.

"I felt something touching me and there was a terrible atmosphere in the place, I knew I just really wanted to get out.

"I'm not sure how much of it was psychosomatic because of what we were doing and I'm not sure just how much was the atmosphere and the mood but I just had to get out of there and into the light."

She continued: "There was another incident in the temple of Khufu, in the Great Pyramid.

"We were all getting bad feelings. We had the feeling we had to leave and had to run out of this narrow tunnel which was quite claustrophobic.

"I don't know if it's just because of the atmosphere. You're in the biggest stone monument in the world and are trapped in the centre of it and it's the middle of the night. I don't know what it was but I felt something."

Paranormal Egypt is on Living TV, tonight at 10pm.

DEREK ACORAH is the star figure in the booming genre of paranormal reality television.

He first came to prominence with Most Haunted, where he and Yvette Fielding checked out spooky locations.

In addition to Most Haunted and Paranormal Egypt, he has also starred in the series Ghost Towns.

Other successful reality paranormal and psychic shows recently include Dead Famous (featuring Gail Porter), Crossing Over with John Edward, 6ixth Sense with Colin Fry, Scream Team, Jane Goldman Investigates, Dead Famous, I'm Famous and Frightened! and Sally Morgan: Star Psychic.

Pop band Girls Aloud also made a one-off series - Ghost Hunting with Girls Aloud - where they investigated haunted houses.

'There were definitely some very scary moments when I felt something weird was happening'

'I felt something touch me and there was aterrible atmosphere. I knew I just really wanted to get out'


SANDS OF TIME: Derek saddles up; REEL DEAL: The Mummy Returns, above, statue of Rameses ll, far right, and gold mask of Tutankhamen; INTREPID: Tessa and Derek in Egypt PICTURE: DANA SMILLIE
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Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Sep 4, 2007
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