TV – Derren Brown http://www.derrenbrowninfo.co.uk Wed, 14 Sep 2016 21:13:51 +0000 en-GB hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.8 http://www.derrenbrowninfo.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/favicon.gif TV – Derren Brown http://www.derrenbrowninfo.co.uk 32 32 Pushed To The Edge http://www.derrenbrowninfo.co.uk/pushed-to-the-edge/ http://www.derrenbrowninfo.co.uk/pushed-to-the-edge/#comments Sun, 17 Jan 2016 00:17:34 +0000 http://derrenbrowninfo.co.uk/?p=357 Derren Brown: Pushed To The Edge was first aired on 12th January 2016 on Channel 4. The premise of the program was to persuade an unwitting member of the public into believing that they have pushed someone to their death. This was the TV program that I applied to take part in, but thankfully wasn’t picked. I have to say this was one... Read more »

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Derren Brown: Pushed To The Edge was first aired on 12th January 2016 on Channel 4. The premise of the program was to persuade an unwitting member of the public into believing that they have pushed someone to their death.

This was the TV program that I applied to take part in, but thankfully wasn’t picked.

I have to say this was one of the most uncomfortable to watch TV programs I have seen for a long time. There’s always an invisible line that performers aim to tread, but this was so close to it I’m left wondering if Derren over-stepped it on this occasion.

He wanted to manipulate someone (we actually find out that he ran the same ‘experiment’ 4 times with different people at the conclusion of the show) into pushing someone to their death, echoing the terrible scenes the media show us of ISIS (Daesh, IS, ISIL – or cystitis – which I think is a better name for them) pushing gay people from roof tops.

The question hypothesised in the TV program is “can someone be pursued into committing murder?” Chris, the main subject of the experiment, is manipulated (or bullied as I will call it from now on) into pushing a man off a building.  But he doesn’t, and instead walks away from the set-up.

The other 3 subjects / precipitants / volunteers are subsequently shown pushing the man off the building in the final scenes.

To the casual observer the question that may ultimately arise is why the main participant we follow through the program the only ‘failed’ subject as opposed to the other 3 who Derren succeeded in bullying them to push a man to his ‘death’? I think the answer lies in how the experiment was set-up: I have a feeling that there may have been 2 set-ups of the process that were different between Chris and the other 3 – to me the editing suggests this.

Chris had a good back story – asked to create an app for the ‘Push’ charity.  We aren’t shown the back stories of the other 3.  I have a suspicion that they were probably subjected to the usual Derren-performance-bullying he and his team uses, so they would have known roughly how to act in such circumstances – an instant stooge, if you will (not actors or stooges, but playing along to be nice). Chris probably didn’t, hence why his story had to be shown to make it more believable.

On the theme of editing, I really don’t know why we were shown Derren sitting in a room ‘directing’ his actor bullies.  A voice-over would have sufficed, instead we got a rather smug Derren which distracted from the show. I also have no idea why they had green lights in the corner of the screen or white noise at random intervals (as a tinnitus suffer I only realised this wasn’t my ears playing up when the person I was sitting with commented ‘can you hear that?’). I suspect it was simply pseudo-manipulation of the audience with no purpose.

Apparently more than a dozen people have complained to Ofcom. “We will assess these complaints before deciding whether to investigate or not” said a spokesman for Ofcom. I’ve always laughed at this professional-complainers, but I think they have a point on this occasion.

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The Events http://www.derrenbrowninfo.co.uk/theevents/ http://www.derrenbrowninfo.co.uk/theevents/#respond Sat, 19 Sep 2009 00:38:17 +0000 http://derrenbrowninfo.co.uk/?p=315 The Events is a four-part series where Derren takes part in – you’ve guessed it – four events: ‘How to Win the Lottery’; ‘How to Control the Nation’; ‘How to be a Psychic Spy’; ‘How to Beat the Casino’. As I write this we are half way through the series and I thought I’d take this opportunity to do a... Read more »

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The Events is a four-part series where Derren takes part in – you’ve guessed it – four events: ‘How to Win the Lottery’; ‘How to Control the Nation’; ‘How to be a Psychic Spy’; ‘How to Beat the Casino’.

As I write this we are half way through the series and I thought I’d take this opportunity to do a small write up.

The titles of each show leads us, the audience, to believe we will learn ‘how to do’ all of the above… but will that be the case? Probably not. That would be too easy!

How to Win the Lottery
When I first leant this was going to be his first trick, my heart sank. Time delay. Easy. Where’s there any skill in that, I thought? However, I was more than pleasantly surprised with what Derren delivered on Wednesday night. It was a slick performance. There was the invisible compromise of the ‘legal reasons’ surrounding the BBC announcing the results first, hardly a point for me to moan at – he’s a magician, afterall.

And in addendum to the above, there were a few ‘give aways’ as to how this trick/effect/feat was achieved. The wobbly camera was a giant ‘I’m not doing any magic tricks with split screens like The Masked Magician here’ rule-out. Next was the empty warehouse with the TV in the middle of the room with the nice thick cable trailing from the back, together with the glass stand holding the six white balls. The ‘obvious’ TV power cable was a nice touch. As was the glass stand.

I’d like to think I’m not the bluntest tool in the box, so I reckon I could have a pretty good idea how Derren ‘predicted’ the Lottery result. I also have a physics degree so I know what to roughly Google by utilising that and deducing from the above. First attempt pulled up a 2004 journal describing the exact technology I thought was possible and achievable for the effect. Hey Presto el al.

So, how was Derren going to make a one hour show on the above? Simply, he wasn’t.

Obviously the one hour ‘explanation’ show took longer to construct than the actual effect, but surely he could have come up with something better than 23 random people (one of the 24 was the calculator man) guessing numbers? This leaves us with a not-so-invisible-compromise resultant caveat of a mean numbers exercise, meaning ultimately that the people’s idiom motor not only had to predict an absolutely and categorically random event, but compensate for other people’s inaccurate guesses of the same random event. Don’t worry though, guesses can include negative and numbers larger than 49. Right. That makes perfect sense. Real world and plausible it isn’t.

So, when everything is de-constructed we see there are two, possibly three different realities Derren had to perform. He had to ‘predict the lottery’; get 23 people to think they had predicted the lottery; then convince a studio audience they had seen 23 people predict the lottery. Then combine all of those to make us believe he had predicted the lottery. (But of course we all know he didn’t – because he can’t.)

I have to say that I wouldn’t be writing all of this if Derren hadn’t promised to reveal how he did it, then throw us – essentially – cheap lies. Being a magician is an open door to trickery and deceiving – we all accept and enjoy it, – but for me this overstepped the line and insulted not only my intelligence, but the intelligence of the British population as a whole. On its own the Wednesday night effect would have sufficed. Actually, it would have more than sufficed.

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Zombie Arcade Game http://www.derrenbrowninfo.co.uk/zombie-arcade-game/ http://www.derrenbrowninfo.co.uk/zombie-arcade-game/#respond Wed, 29 Jun 2005 00:36:10 +0000 http://derrenbrowninfo.co.uk/?p=311 It was my intention not to write about individual effects in the latest Trick of the Mind series, however I feel the overwhelming interest in the Zombie Arcade Game warranted at least something to be said and thus this can at least serve as an obituary to the lost bandwidth from sites who insist in streaming the entire clip. Derren... Read more »

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Cast of Zombie Arcade Games

Cast of Zombie Arcade Game

It was my intention not to write about individual effects in the latest Trick of the Mind series, however I feel the overwhelming interest in the Zombie Arcade Game warranted at least something to be said and thus this can at least serve as an obituary to the lost bandwidth from sites who insist in streaming the entire clip.

Derren said he made a zombie shoot ‘em up game which would put a third of the people who played it into a catatonic, trance-like state. The game was then strategically placed in a pub and the trance was achieved and demonstrated with one player. He was subsequently placed on a hospital trolley and wheeled across the night streets of London, accompanied by his two compliant friends. He was taken to a disused warehouse, which resembled the layout of the game and was given a gun whilst his friends were ushered in to a side room where they would watch him play the real game when he was awoken in it.

After an unsuccessful attempt to escape and much shouting, swearing and screaming like a girl being taunted with a spider by her smirking brother, the young man appeared to soil his pants and preceded to shoot at the zombies, as if he were playing the arcade game. After much blood lose, severed limbs and a lawsuit from the National Union of Zombies (I think I made that up) Derren apparently calms the gentleman down and re-induces the trace-like state and wheels him back to the pub. He is awoken in front of the arcade game and when the exuberant chap is ‘vox-popped’ he describes game as being exciting, realistic and comments on the sound. To allay any concerns the Zombie player might have had governing his experience, Derren replays the footage back to him, providing the viewer with shots showing no evident psychological or emotional damage.

I’m unsure whether I expected the out-pour of concern and emotion from people horrified by the stunt or not. You see, I totally loved it, considered it to be a work of art as well as shear genius, but also found it to be shrouded in Derren’s usual push to be controversial by testing the outer limits of the warped boundaries he has created for himself with an explosion comparable in magnitude to that of a small nuclear explosion.

At the time of transmission I thought the perceived and shown induction in the pub was very clever; it even raised a smile from me – a feat only achieved by a handful of people. However, I may have changed my mind on reflection, I’m not sure. I wouldn’t go as far as saying it was in the same league as the swinging-pocket watch followed by the ritual of sucking lemons, but I’ve thought about it enough to conclude that I’m still sitting on the fence over it. Yes, the one as indecisive as an apple is blue, is precariously perched on the edge of the fence – I’m just hoping I don’t fall into the pit of oblivion which is teetering under my feet.

I can understand why people were appalled, sicken, disgusted or maybe even contemplated switching channels – people don’t turn their televisions off when they find something they don’t like; they watch it in its fully technicoloured glory and then complain afterwards!

I have seen many points of views ranging from people who were worried about epilepsy, long term emotional and psychological damage to concerns over the ethicality of the setup. I, however, do not express these concerns. Maybe I’m wrong to hold these views or maybe I don’t take everything I watch on television at face value and realise there is often more than meets the eye. This does not only apply to Derren, but the whole media environment our society has been encapsulated in. Just think. Just remember to question and think.

I now feel slightly uneasy; I have just written all of the above quite freely and easily but I know I have fallen into the trap – I have failed to mention what I actually thought of the effect. What can I say other than to climb onto my rooftop and announce to any passing pedestrian: IT WAS BLOODY FANTASTIC!

The effect was roughly fifteen minutes long and swept the viewer through a tidal wave of emotions extremely well. And who else could get away with playing peak-a-boo whilst crossing the road, the placing of hands on another man’s knees, hidden camera scenes (along with thrown in tension), using a flashing light as an induction technique, wheeling an unconscious person on a hospital trolley through the streets and to get him to shoot at zombies? Oh, fantastic. Brilliant. And the drama… I’m just speechless. I really couldn’t ask for anything more.

If I’m honest I feel this effect has surpassed every other individual effect Derren has performed – it has drawn everything together, been mashed up into a globular bullet, shot through the television set and hit the viewer between the eyes, rendering them clinging to the sofa with beads of sweat dripping down their face; struggling to catch their breath.

And what does Derren think? I’m sure he is laughing like a child in a candy store who is already high on sugar.

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The Gathering http://www.derrenbrowninfo.co.uk/gathering/ http://www.derrenbrowninfo.co.uk/gathering/#respond Fri, 20 May 2005 00:34:58 +0000 http://derrenbrowninfo.co.uk/?p=309 I must admit I have been slightly careless with keeping the site up to date recently due to a number of factors, the largest being time, or rather the distinct lack of it. Do I promise to curve this foolish behaviour and mend my reckless ways? No, no I don’t, for, you see, behind this nerdy exterior is someone who... Read more »

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I must admit I have been slightly careless with keeping the site up to date recently due to a number of factors, the largest being time, or rather the distinct lack of it. Do I promise to curve this foolish behaviour and mend my reckless ways? No, no I don’t, for, you see, behind this nerdy exterior is someone who appears to lead a relatively normal life. Yes, normal life in the outside world. Gasp.


The Gathering was filmed in a mystery location in front of an invited audience which included magicians, psychologists, cab drivers, celebrities, psychics, NLP practitioners and some students, and was a fusion of some of the things Derren used on his first national tour as well as some slightly adaped things for the television audience.


When I first heard Derren was going to make The Gathering I had a few reservations; the main one being was it too risky? It’s fine producing a TV series in the knowledge that there can be an editing suit behind you, but when filming a live show one can imagine you are slightly more exposed. My other slight concern was Derren’s motives for producing the programme – was he just making another programme for the general public, or was his ulterior motive to somewhat silence the magic fraternity?


Well, I can say that Derren surpassed all my expectations and performed all the classics with his natural and usual charm, charisma and flair. I feel The Gathering is my favourite thus far out of all of Derren’s television work, however this probably due to my love for the theatre as opposed to television, which currently seems to be a fading, distant memory, so I probably have a biased tendency to say that!


Derren’s current programmes have allowed a greater scope for humour to be introduced and it is refreshing to see that humour and mentalism can be mixed successfully. OK, so they may be the same one-liners, but Derren still pulls them off. For this I’m sure much credit must rest with Andy Nyman, who I greatly respect in his own right. Both he and Derren are very clever and the material they produce can only be described as remarkable. It’s possible to see the ‘Nymanisms’ in Derren’s work and material and sometimes I wonder what we would be viewing if Andy was Objective’s head-line performer…


Derren certainly seems to enjoy performing in front of a live audience; scurrying around like conquesting ants following the good ol’ pheromone trail. Maybe he was a little too enthusiastic, but this would be the only negative associated with his performance – it’s hardly going to knock huge points from his score though!

Did you think I was going to talk about the effects Derren performed? Sorry, this isn’t the time or the place. However, one thing I will include in this somewhat strange review is the ‘subliminal’ use of the word FORGET which was flashed upon the screen about five times during the airing of the programme and once during the trailer. Never has so much fuss been made about something so little! It just goes to show what a little viewer involvement can do. Powerful stuff!


Congratulations to Derren and his team: you really did pull this one off.

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Messiah http://www.derrenbrowninfo.co.uk/messiah/ http://www.derrenbrowninfo.co.uk/messiah/#respond Sun, 09 Jan 2005 01:33:42 +0000 http://derrenbrowninfo.co.uk/?p=307 Derren Brown: Messiah was aired on Channel Four on the 7th January 2005 with the purpose of seeing if five authority figures in America would endorse Derren’s five pseudonyms and in turn try to encourage the public to question various aspects of their life’s and belief systems. The programme was not produced to debunk all beliefs, instead it followed the... Read more »

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Derren Brown: Messiah was aired on Channel Four on the 7th January 2005 with the purpose of seeing if five authority figures in America would endorse Derren’s five pseudonyms and in turn try to encourage the public to question various aspects of their life’s and belief systems. The programme was not produced to debunk all beliefs, instead it followed the same lines of Séance: hopefully urging the viewer to maybe see if there was a turning in their straight-line linking about belief and urging them to question and explore the wilderness which had been opened to them, not necessarily to take that path, but just to be aware of its existence and to question some of the pebbles which form part of the road.

Yes, I enjoyed the programme and think it was potentially a very good idea but I feel some aspects of the production was rushed and maybe the message could have been better portrayed if the programme had been slightly longer in length. I feel some aspects were edited with the one aim of promoting Derren’s objectives and idealology which normally I would have no issue with as it is entertainment and should always be treated with a pinch of salt, but I just find the irony of producing a ‘documentary’ about questioning the information given by authority figures which had itself been highly edited incredibly funny. Please forgive me for laughing so much!

I think my lack of enthusiasm for the programme stems from the title; why call it Messiah? Messiah is not just a Christian word, it is a Hebrew term meaning “anointed one,” designating a king or priest of ancient Israel so why was it used when only one of the authority figure ‘targets’ was Christian, all the others stemmed from the New Age and Alien genre?

Maybe Messiah was a good idea at the time considering the complaints made by Christian communities regarding the screening of Séance, and could have worked to Derren’s public profile advantage if it had been more provocative, but instead it just reminded me of Objective Productions’ Psychic! programme which was presented by Alistair Cook, if I remember correctly. I have nothing against either programme, they were entertainingly good, but it just seems a strange direction to turn into after the success of Mind Control, Trick of the Mind, Russian Roulette and Séance. Is it possible to have Messiah sandwiched between two series of Trick of the Mind considering their completely different objectives? Surely Derren is either an entertainer who “messes with people’s minds” or he is an authority figure himself who is on a self-fulfilling mission to get people to question their beliefs. Not bad for someone who doesn’t think ‘pure’ card magic can be mixed with his ‘psychological illusionist’ persona!

OK, maybe I’m reading into all of this a little too much, which probably I am, but if Derren makes a programme to encourage the public to question then I’m afraid he can only be subject to the same questioning himself (which I sincerely hope was the ultimate objective of the programme). And shouldn’t we strive to give honest opinions about performance? This may well be a fan site (oh how I hate that generic name) but I refuse to fill it with messages I don’t believe in just because that is what most readers want to hear…I fear I’m losing more readers with every word I type!

To Derren’s credit he did, as always, put on a very good performance, but to me, however, the techniques were a little shallow and transparent; they were more of a tool and not performed in the traditional sense. Maybe the programme could have benefited by inserting some slightly newer effects or some hidden camera sections, OK, so maybe the show would have lost its documentation edge but I’m sure the powers that be could have thought of some smaller effects to include.

I don’t think Derren’s objective has been lost on me, like I said previously, it was a very good idea, I just feel that the style of the programme didn’t suit the content and was slanted maybe a little too much towards Derren’s ulterior motive.

Well done to Derren for daring to be different and continually breaking the magician’s mould, but please can we have more episodes of Trick of the Mind?


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