Interview in The Times, March 2005


The Illusionist Derren Brown, who famously escaped the bullet when he played Russian Roulette live on TV, likes to re-create restaurant dishes in his kitchen, watch Curb Your Enthusiasm on TV and buy stuffed animals from E-Bay in the dead of night.

7 P.M.

I don’t like cooking for others, but I’ll cook a two-course meal for myself. To start: grilled aubergine with crabmeat in a sake, shallot, caviar, chilli and lime sauce – a dish I first had at Patara, a Thai restaurant in the West End. That’s mainly how I’ve learnt to cook, by copying meals I’ve had out. It’s more fun than going through recipe books.For mains I’d have steak from a great organic butchers round the corner.

I adore reading over dinner. At the moment I’m reading weird esoteric literature by old mentalists, which is roughly the area I fall into. I occasionally pick up a newspare to keep abreast of what’s happening around the world. But eBay is ultimately more interesting.

8.30 P.M.

More often than not I’ll watch a movie on my fitted home cinema. My favourite thing is pressing a button and watching the screen descend as the hi-fi swtiches over to DVD, the projector comes on, and the film begins. All I need now is a pair of velvet curtains.

10 P.M.

I never get to watch a lot of television, but I love comedies, especially Curb Your Enthusiasm, a superb HBO series. I’d love to appear in a comedy. It hasn’t happened yet, although I have been asked.

I have only terrestrial TV so I tend to watch DVDs of the programmes I don’t get to see when they’re first aired. I buy DVDs most days I go out.

11.30 P.M.

I’ll cross the hallway to my studio, where I spend most of my weekends if I’m not working. I paint acrylic celebrity cariacatures on big canvases. I sell prints on my website (, occasionally originals, and I am trying to find the time for an exhibition or a coffee table book.

I work from photographs of anyone I’m interested in at the time. I’ve just finished one of Christopher Walken. I love listening to the radio while painting. I like Classic FM and Radio 3. I’m a big Bach fan.

1.30 A.M.

Surfin eBay is much more fun when everyone else is asleep. I’ll buy anything, especially taxidermy. My most extravagant purchase to date is my stuffed Jack Russell, called eBay. He stands in the hallway looking up at an empty parrot cage. You never quite know what you’re getting, though. I once got a cat that looks like a Harry Hill prop. It’s staring out of the window in the spare bedroom.

2.30 A.M.

If I haven’t had a Muscat with dinner I might have a little nightcap. I have quite a collection of rare single malts, including Glenmorangie Côte du Bearne Finish. Sensational. I’ve never been much of a beer drinker. I don’t like loads of liquid sloshing around inside me.