A year ago, we told you about a surprising discovery made by Paulette Cooper when she was looking through Patty Moher’s collection of Scientology materials during a gathering at Patty’s house in Connecticut — Paulette stumbled on a pamphlet put out by the church in 1969 that featured an interview with a 7-year-old Neil Gaiman.
The interview was a transcript of a 1968 BBC radio show which featured the young Gaiman, who had been kicked out of a school because of his family’s affiliation with Scientology. A year later, the church included the transcript in a political pamphlet because Scientology was under attack in Parliament, and the young Neil made such a fine example of a budding member of the organization.
At the time, we hoped someone at the BBC could track down the original audio of Neil’s interview, and we asked again in June, when Neil’s new book, The Ocean at the End of the Lane, was published.
And now, someone at the BBC has found the audio!
A reader let us know that Monday afternoon, Gaiman did an hourlong interview on BBC Radio 5′s show “Daily Bacon,” and during it, guest host Colin Paterson revealed that the audio of Neil’s 1968 interview had been found, and a short segment of it was played for him. Here’s the relevant segment…
At the end of the segment, you hear Gaiman handle (rather deftly) an interesting question about his relationship with members of his family still in Scientology…
Colin: You’ve made it clear that you are not a Scientologist, but that your family members are, including your sister Lizzy, who is thanked at the back of the book. How tricky a situation is that?
Neil: It’s not tricky. It’s family. You know, families are all…they’re interesting, they’re glorious, they drive you nuts. They’re families. I don’t know anybody who doesn’t have one.
As we pointed out in our story about The Ocean at the End of the Lane in June, Gaiman is still surrounded by family members who are among the most fanatical Scientologists in the world — from his mother, who continues to give huge amounts to the church, to his sister Lizzy who has spoken about Scientology for Channel 4 in the UK, and whose son, Alessandro Calcioli, is challenging the UK’s prohibition against Scientology “religious” weddings, to Neil’s ex-wife, who runs a Scientology “Ideal Org” in Minnesota.
Neil himself was a dedicated member of the church until sometime in the 1980s, as best we can determine. To get a sense of how early his training had started, here again is the full transcript of his 1968 BBC Radio interview…
Neil Gaiman, 7-years-old, Radio Interview BBC Radio ‘World at Weekend’, August 1968.
Keith Graves: What is Scientology?
Neil: It is an applied philosophy dealing with the study of knowledge.
Keith Graves: Do you know what philosophy is?
Neil: I used to, but I’ve forgotten.
Keith Graves: Who told you that meaning of Scientology?
Neil: In clearer words, it’s a way to make the able person more able.
Keith Graves: What does it do for you — Scientology — does it make you feel a better boy?
Neil: Not exactly that, but when you make a release you feel absolutely great.
Keith Graves: Do you get what you call a release very often, or do you have this all the time?
Neil: Well, you only keep a release all the time when you get Clear. I’m six courses away from Clear.
Keith Graves: You’re on a particular grade are you?
Neil: Well, I’ve just passed Grade I; I’m not Grade II yet.
Keith Graves: What is Grade I?
Neil: Problems Release.
Keith Graves: And what does this mean to you, Problems Release?
Neil: It helps you to handle quite a lot of problems.
Keith Graves: What problems do you have as a little boy that this helps you with?
Neil: Only one big problem.
Keith Graves: What’s that?
Neil: My friend Stephen.
Keith Graves: Oh, I see. Is he a Scientologist?
Keith Graves: But I mean, how does this grade that you’ve got, Problems Release, help you to deal with Stephen?
Neil: Well, you know, I’ve dealed with every single problem except Stephen, one thing Problems Release can’t help me to handle.
Keith Graves: So you still fight with Stephen?
Neil: It’s more of a question he fights with me.
Keith Graves: He’s older than you, presumably.
Keith Graves: And he’s three grades ahead of you?
Neil: In a way, but you see, there are six main courses; but there are ever so many in-between courses. I’ve just finished three, and that’s Engrams.
Keith Graves: What are Engrams?
Neil: Engrams are a mental image picture containing pain and unconsciousness.
Keith Graves: And what does this mean to you?
Neil: Well, shall I tell you? — I’ll give you a demonstration. You’re walking along the street, and a car hooted and somebody shouted, “shooo’, and a dog barked, and you tripped over a bit of metal and hurt your knee. Three years later, say, you were walking along that same place and someone shouted “shooo”, and a car hooted, and a dog barked, and suddenly you feel pain in your knee. I’ve had one Engram that I can remember. I was jumping off the television set. We’ve got a gigantic television set, but it doesn’t work. Onto my mom’s bed and, you see, I jumped and I hit my head on the chandelier, and you know it really hurt; and I looked up and I saw it swinging, and a few minutes later I tried to test an Engram, so I set it swinging and I looked up there, and I suddenly had a headache.
Keith Graves: And how old were you when this happened?
Neil: Around three months ago.
Keith Graves: Oh, I see. How long have you been studying Scientology?
Neil: I started at five, now I’m seven.
Keith Graves: Seven years old. Extraordinary, isn’t it?
We tend to believe Neil that he’s no longer a member of Scientology, and he hasn’t been for many years. If he still doesn’t really get into his thoughts about Scientology today, it’s important to remember that if he did, it would make it very difficult for his family members to remain in contact with him — if he were to criticize Scientology at all, they would be forced to “disconnect” from him.
At this point, we need to put in a note in anticipation of the predictable angry response from a few people who are convinced that Gaiman and his wife, musician Amanda Palmer, are “stealth” members of Scientology, based on weak and unconvincing evidence — in particular a 2009 Scientology newsletter.
Gaiman and Mary McGrath filed for divorce in 2007 and it was finalized in 2008. In a 2009 church newsletter, there’s a listing of a donation of $35,000 by “Neil and Mary Gaiman.” We’ve seen no convincing evidence that Neil actually had anything to do with it, and that it was listed that way even though Mary gave the money. She has continued to give money to the church, but blaming Neil for that seems to be a reach. They’re divorced. Mary Gaiman can spend her money any way she wants.
The other “evidence” that Gaiman and Palmer are secret members of the church (particularly in the case of Palmer) is even more unconvincing.
Anyway, we hope the BBC sees fit to release the entire audio of Neil Gaiman’s 1968 interview. It’s a gas!
To our Aussie readers, we wanted to point out that you may have begun seeing promos on 7 News for a big story this Monday that will be released simultaneously here at the Underground Bunker and on Today Tonight featuring Bryan Seymour.
It’s a story we’ve worked on together for several months, and we expect it to be an eye-opener. Speaking of which, we’ll be asking readers on this side of the globe to crack open their peepers at the ungodly hour of 5 am, which will be at the same time Seymour’s segment airs at a more decent hour in Australia.
Yes, we know: 5 am on LABOR DAY. It’s a ridiculous time for a big story, but we wanted to coordinate things with Aussie TV, so there you go.
Posted by Tony Ortega on August 30, 2013 at 07:00
E-mail your tips and story ideas to email@example.com or follow us on Twitter. We post behind-the-scenes updates at our Facebook author page. Here at the Bunker we try to have a post up every morning at 7 AM Eastern (Noon GMT), and on some days we post an afternoon story at around 2 PM. After every new story we send out an alert to our e-mail list and our FB page.