Cardiff-based Reverend Lionel Fanthorpe is a priest, biker, author, investigator into the mysterious and paranormal, and exorcist.
He has written more than 250 books on a variety of subjects, and conducted 20 book-length investigations into unexplained mysteries.
During the mid ‘90s he fronted the popular Channel 4 television series Fortean TV, based on the magazine of the same name and with a focus on the weird and wonderful.
These days, he investigates the unexplained with his wife Patricia and still travels the world looking for answers to many of our greatest enigmas.
But Rev Fanthorpe, 78, says his unusual interests started when he first left school.
It really began, I think, for me, with reading the mystery stories of HG Wells and Edgar Allan Poe and the early science fiction writers.
And then it dawned on me gradually, in my teens, that these wonderful adventure stories about psychic phenomena and anomalous things, mysteries of all kinds – what if they had a genuine place in the real world?
And so I started investigating. I think I was still in my teens when I became a serious investigator and joined those societies, The Psychical Research Society and other groups, that took a serious interest in these things.”
Lionel is particularly interested in those mysteries with potentially rational solutions, though he doesn’t disregard the possibility of the paranormal.
“I certainly believe there is a paranormal universe out there,” he adds.
As well as investigating the unexplained, Lionel is occasionally called on to perform exorcisms in his role as a priest.
Perhaps the most traumatic of these was at a cinema in Bristol, where a young usher was being tormented by an evil presence.
With the help of a medium, Lionel managed to rid the young man of the spirits possessing him, which the medium described as being like “psychic piranha fish.”
But, as in all things, Lionel is open-minded about the effects of exorcism.
“There are occasions when I think there’s a possibility there are dark, evil psychic forces and the power of God and the power of goodness exceeds them to an infinite extent.
“Therefore the exorcism, in which we call upon God’s help to get rid of them, works because the powers of good exceed the powers of evil.
“On the other hand, you know how a doctor will sometimes use a placebo when a patient believes there’s something wrong with him and in fact there isn’t, other than in the poor chap’s very worried mind, then, what you are doing is setting the patient’s mind at rest.”
Whatever the truth, Lionel Fanthorpe is certainly a man unafraid to confront the unknown and forge his own path through life.
As he himself explains: “My wife and I perhaps just have more than our fair share of curiosity, and we like to keep open-minded and we like to look.”