Derren's lucky break came when in 1999 when Jerry Sadowitz's manager, Michael Vine, (now Derren's manager) flew up from London to see one Jerry's performances in Glasgow and Michael happened to mention that for about two years he and his business partner, Andrew O'Connor, had been looking for a mind reader that they could introduce to Channel Four. Jerry was gracious enough to mention Derren, and so on 27th December, 2000 Derren Brown: Mind Control I hit the screens and changed the face and perception of British magic forever.
Such was the success of the first programme, another two specials were commissioned and were subsequently broadcast on 25th August 2001 and 1st January 2002. Then some additional material was added to some of the original effects featured in the Specials to created a six part Mind Control Series. The repeat showing of Derren Brown: Mind Control is rated in Channel 4's top ten most watched shows .
On 5th October, 2003 Derren decided to embark on an effect that would set the nation talking: Derren Brown Plays Russian Roulette. Derren cheated death by firing a six chambered revolver loaded with one live bullet at his head. This created the desired effect and caused much public uproar and filled practically every national newspaper. Derren says he is legally bound not to disclose any details of whether the bullets used were live or blanks due to the Jersey Police's inquiry, although he is increasingly suggesting that they were in fact not blanks. However, logic says that there could be a number of different ways of 'safely' carrying out the effect - I know how I'd do it - but either way, it was gripping and heart stopping television.
After embarking on a national tour and a three week run in the West End, Derren's new six part series Trick of the Mind started on the 23rd April, 2004 and larger and more adventurous effects were achieved which once again showed Derren's unique talent. The series featured a range of effects including Derren manipulating an orchestra to play a tune of his choice, playing chess with nine leading British chess masters and convincing a film student he has become invisible. Stephen Fry, Martin Kemp and Michel Roux Jnr. also feature in some of Derren's effects.
Derren again showed how people are easily manipulated by creating a seance which was shown on 31st May 2004.
Seance received more than 700 complaints, mainly prebroadcast, which has made Seance the most complained about television show in Britain.
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 lifes and belief systems. The one off special was not produced to debunk all beliefs, instead it followed the same lines of Sťance: hopefully urging the viewer to maybe see if there was a turning in their straight-lined thinking 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.
Derren said that his main objective for making the programme was to encourage people to "question about the validity of certain religious and spiritual belief systems; belief systems that people are encouraged to base their lives upon - such as new-age faiths and mainstream Christianity."
Derren's second series of Trick of the Mind comprised of six thirty-minute episodes and began broadcast from April, 2005. Each episode featured a 'celebrity face' and it was evident more money had been spent on its production.
Derren's forth special was The Gathering. It 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 adapted things for the television audience. It aired on the 29th May, 2005.
Derren - and Channel 4 - like his specials, so on 4th January 2006 The Heist was aired in the UK. Derren seemingly made respondents to an advert he placed in a newspaper hold a security van up at gun-point, although the gun of course a toy gun and the security guard was an actor. There was rumours that the security van was actually made from plasticine but these were later shown to be unfounded.
Four people were selected to carry out the robbery from an initial field of thirteen, with three of them actually carrying out the "heist". Derren made the audience believe he achieved the effect by utilising an association of colour, music and phrases to seemingly put and build upon a highly-motivated state in which the participants in the hope take they would take part in a robbery, even those those involved were not explicitly instructed to do so.
There were also references and a mock set-up of Stanley Milgram's experiment which originally looked into obedience when under instruction of person considered to hold a position of authority. The initial Milgram Experiment yielded unexpected results and has been repeated many times in different countries, and is a widely accredited psychology experiment.
Derren's second tour, Something Wicked This Way Comes was performed at the Old Vic Theatre for a final time with the aim of releasing it as a special TV programme. It was shown on 29th December 2006.
Trick or Treat was a series of six episodes which first broadcast on 13th April 2007. Derren used rotational ambigram cards to select participants - who had previously applied but did not know they had been selected - to give them either a Trick or a Treat.
Tricks included waking up in foreign country, a Ventriloquist's dummy, a street madman and a staged death in an out of body experience, which was later criticised in the UK national press. Treats were teaching a pensioner how to 'bluff' in poker, and a piano recital.
Deren wanted to set America ablaze and did this by releasing Mind Control with Derren Brown which was a mixture of his old UK programmes and new material for the US audience. The series started on 26th July 2007.
InThe System Derren exposed his '100 percent guaranteed method' of winning on the races. Except he was exposed a well-known pyramid scam in which one person was guaranteed to win, but 7,000 - if you believe Derren - were set to lose. It's all about probabilities and picking every combination. After the selected horse in the final race lost, the participant was convinced that she had lost all her borrowed money, Brown told her to look again at the betting slip in her hand. The ticket showed the winning horse's name, meaning she kept her stake and received winnings of £13,000. Brown did not reveal how this was achieved.
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