Southampton Daily Echo, March 2005

All In The Mind

Mind manipulator Derren Brown brings his acclaimed live stage show to the region next week. He appears at Portsmouth’s Guildhall on Wednesday and will perform his masterful psychological tricks at Salisbury City Hall on Thursday.

The controversial illusionist appears to be able to read people’s minds, but what he really does is cleverly guide his subjects to think specific things without them knowing. The performer originally aimed to pursue a career in law due to his incredible ability to spot loopholes in people’s arguments. When he realised he could make a living from this insightful talent alone, he abandoned law and began performing.

His ability to seemingly control an individual’s mind has astounded TV viewers over the last few years. His Channel 4 series ‘Derren Brown: Mind Control’ was a ratings hit, and led to further TV shows including ‘Derren Brown Plays Russian Roulette’ and ‘The Séance’.

A magician by trade, Derren Brown really knows how to perform his original tricks and is always guaranteed to generate a reaction. His engrossing show is certain to hypnotise audiences in Portsmouth and Salisbury next week.

Q & A : Derren Brown performs two shows at the end of the month at the City Hall in Salisbury and Portsmouth’s Guildhall. What’s On put him under the spotlight with our two minute, quick-fire Q and A!

What are you reading at the moment?

I’m just finishing ‘Who Wrote The New Testament’ by Robert Macks, and am constantly wading through a lot of obscure and delightful esoteria concerning the peripheries of magic, mentalism and psychology.

In the bathroom, I have just finished a terrific self-published book by Douglas Pledger called ‘Breaking Hearts’ which documents his real-life hounding of a chat-room user through fictional identities.

What was the last film you saw?

I think it might have been ‘Team America’. Really enjoyed it. Um, think the Ingmar Bergman triple-bill was sold out that night.

What kind of DVD or video do you choose for a night in?

When I moved into my new place, I had a home cinema put in. It’s a far, far superior, and much less expensive alternative to a plasma screen. No comparison. I’ll very often watch a DVD on it if I have an evening free. I’m a big Woody Allen fan.

I love any decent movie and really like some of the Asian horror exports. Although recently I’ve just been going through the recent seasons of ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’. I very rarely watch TV, so I love watching great TV comedy in this way.

What sort of music is on your stereo?

Bach, constantly. And generally the solo keyboard pieces. Failing that, maybe Richard Strauss songs – I’m a huge fan.

What gadget can’t you live without?

Probably my Ipaq, which is a pocket computer/diary thing. I’m immensely forgetful and disorganised, so the diary function is superlatively important.

What’s your favourite food?

A good French meal at a decent restaurant. They clearly have the prize for best cuisine all tied up. I’m a little fussy, and I don’t think there’s one food which particularly excites me more than any other, but there was a restaurant in Bristol (since closed) which served a lobster lasagne to die for.

What’s your tipple?

Single malts. Little to no peat, smooth, a tad sweet and just warm. I also love desert wines and am pleased they’re making a comeback. A light and flowery Muscat makes me very happy.

Clothes – are you Compo or catwalk?

If I go out anywhere fancy, I like to wear a decent suit. But I’ve never wanted to think about what I wear from day to day at least not since university when that stuff seemed to matter.

So now I have a series of almost identical corduroy suits and I just cycle through those. May I also recommend my system of throwing out all of your socks, and then going out and buying 20 identical black pairs. Makes life so much easier.

Throw them all in the drawer after washing and never worry about looking for pairs.

What car have you got?

I don’t drive. But of course I like to think I’d have a Bentley or an Aston Martin if I could.

Are you into computers?

I love my computer, love the Internet and spend too much of the day on it. Never got into games, though.

Have you got a mobile?

Certainly. Again, a recommendation: have a picture of a monkey as your wallpaper. Pretend to take a picture of someone with the phone when in company, and then act as if you’ve just taken the best and most flattering picture of your life.

Show everyone else the monkey, but don’t let your subject see, until he or she grabs the phone, desperate to see the great picture. Then laugh and laugh and laugh at their expense.

What TV programmes do you watch?

I rarely watch it, but I do tend to miss things that I then hear about and really wish I’d watched.

I’m a big fan of some of the terrific comedy that’s about, and think that TV seems to be the natural home of such great writing. Few movies are as funny.

However, I only get terrestrial channels and don’t ever check listings, so most of my TV watching consists of buying DVD compilations of great things I’ve heard about.

What newspapers or magazines do you read regularly?

None, I’m afraid. I’ve tried buying newspapers regularly but always forget to read them; and as for specialist magazines, it seems wrong to subscribe to something which will only feed back your own opinions to you every month or so.

So when I fire up Internet Explorer, the Guardian home page keeps me informed of any major disasters before I go to eBay; and I’ll buy a paper if there seems to be an interesting or important story worth reading.

Like this article, for example. I’d probably buy several copies!