Brian Beacom

THE Man in black sitting to my right on the sofa hands me a pen and a notepad.

“Write down the name of a person you’re close to,” says, Darren Sarsby, with a knowing smile.

“And then under that write the last three digits of their mobile phone number.”

I don’t that many mobile numbers by memory. Who does? But I do recall one.

The notepad is handed back. Meanwhile, Andrew Murray, man in black number two and seated to my left has since moved five or six yards away. And all the time he has had his back to us.

After a few seconds, North London-born Andrew reveals the numbers.

“Two, zero, one,” he says, to my astonishment. “And the name on the piece of paper is . . . Fiona.”

What? How can he know this? This is quite incredible. The experiment is repeated. This time, I’m asked to come up with the name of a celebrity and whisper the name very quietly into Darren’s ear. Andrew could only hear this if he were born on Krypton.

He takes a moment. “I believe it’s a man. I think he’s an icon of sorts. I want to say iconic, but I want to write a word . . .” He writes on his own little notepad. He shows me the paper with the word YIN on it.

What! The name I’d whispered to his stage partner was Billy Connolly. You could knock me down with duck down feather.

I listen to a recording of the interview four or five times. I can’t hear any code words being used.

In fact, few words are spoken. There are no microphones worn. And no visual signals. Even Superman didn’t t have eyes in the back of his head, if Andrew is in fact an alien.

But then I shouldn’t be surprised at the success of the double act at all.

The men in black are in fact mind reading duo DNA, finalists on Britain’s Got Talent, June 2017 in which Andrew (45) and Darren Sarsby (31) amazed Amanda Holden stunned Simon Cowell senseless.

Which is no mean feat.

They’re now touring the UK and clearly excited at the idea of appearing in Glasgow. But although television success made them instantly famous, success, they reveal, has been borne out of years of hard graft, sacrifice and, at times, desperation.

“Just before we landed BGT we were on the verge of giving up,” admits Darren. Andrew concurs. “At one point we were only working every three-four months.

“There were times, we’d be talking ‘till three in the morning, trying to come up with new ideas for the show.

“And along the way we’ve had the really bad shows, the times when we thought about giving it all up.”

They had been performing free gigs to rooms full of drunks. They were going nowhere fast. They declared it was over. “The day we got the meeting with BGT I was on the point of not going,” says Darren.

“I was so afraid that act wasn’t going to work.”

In fact, the pair were offered a slot, and Darren turned it down. “I was going on holiday on that date. But the truth was I didn’t feel the act could work.”

BGT came back with another offer. A year later the pair were ready. And they reached the finals and achieved huge public acclaim.

But that was after eight years of playing all over the country, trying to hone the act. And before that, each had worked for years as magicians.

“I’ve never had another job,” says Essex-born Darren, who was a children’s magician.

“As a boy I loved learning new tricks and joined the Young Magic Circle. A magician named Papalarny took me under his wing and became the closest thing I have to do a dad.

“I loved the world of magic. But I was getting to the age where people I went to school with were having kids, and I’d be lugging my gear around their houses.

“When I met Andrew I realised I wanted to stop blowing up balloons.”

Andrew was at summer camp and shared a room with a boy who was into card tricks. “Then I found a great magic shop in London and my dad would take me every weekend.”

He adds, grinning; “I’m still excited by magic. I’ve never grown up, really. I loved to study it. I have a library of material.”

Andrew and Darren, inspired by the likes of David Copperfield, Derren Brown and David Blaine, met at a gig. “Eventually we were booked into gigs together and we realised we had a natural affinity,” says Andrew.

“Meantime, I had come across the story of a Victorian husband and wife act who’d go out to huge houses and mind read.

“She was blindfolded and he would take objects from the audience.

“When I mentioned this to Darren he was as excited as me. We just had to come up with the way to perform it.

“But you can’t really learn from others.

“A telepathy act would take their secrets to the grave. That’s why few people do this. You have to learn your own techniques.”

Darren agrees; “And of course we both wanted to get away from the close up magic, with cards and coins. We wanted to be different.”

The pair are working hard, touring. And they’re close friends. But not too close.

“We used to go on holiday but the last few years everything has gone into our work,” says Andrew.

“But now I have to make time for the two kids from my previous marriage so I have to make time for them. I have to spend time with my girlfriend.”

Darren agrees. “We have a healthy balance in our lives.”

The pair may not go to the cinema together but the matching black outfits suggest they go shopping together?

They laugh in harmony.

“Black suits us, “ says Darren. “It’s a magician’s colour, isn’t it?”

DNA, Oran Mor, Glasgow, February 27.