Derren Brown

I’m writing this a few days after the event, just in case there were any lingering effects. I fear my mind may never quite recover…


I’ve seen most, if not all, of Derren Brown’s TV shows. From the one off specials to the early series that were broadcast in a late evening slot on Ch4. He is not without controversy and I’ll happily admit to, still, remaining sceptical about how he does what he does; is it magic, is it manipulation, are there stooges involved, is it all fake?

Or perhaps it’s a little bit of everything? He is first and foremost as he readily admits, a showman, he is trying to entertain using methods and tricks that can be learned. A lot of the show is based on suggestion, on convincing an audience, or a few members of it, to go along with something even though they aren’t really sure why.

It helps that he is engaging, smart and quick-witted – helpful when something goes wrong, which it did… or may have?… the night we saw him (I have yet to discuss this with friends who were there the following evening!) – and the careful layering of ideas, coupled with alleged explanations of what he is doing, even down to the vaudeville style stage tricks (with a gorilla) all make his show a very entertaining evening.

Mind you I’m not convinced that any of the explanations offered were completely true, nor am I convinced about that ‘mistake’. A fumbled word here, a mis-step there, is it all part of the show, all designed to keep us a little unsure and off-balance?

Ultimately, whilst I have some understanding of how he does what he does (I guessed two things correctly) it’s still a very impressive mix of techniques and skills that delivers some mind-bending results. One word continually sprang to mind as I sat there in disbelief; HOW?

If you’ve watched any of his TV shows you’ll have seen some of the acts he performed before – this is a greatest hits kinda tour – and whilst each segment of the show stands on its own, the very final reveal confirms it’s been carefully planned all along and that you have been manipulated from the minute you walked in and sat down.

Ohhh and what a final reveal, it’s a double whammy that builds on one ‘impossible’ finale to before delivery a second that beggars belief, and I definitely wasn’t the only one, you could feel the slow build of realisation ripples through the audience… is that… did he… but he said… accompanied by gasps, faces held in hands, mouths agape… (OK, that was mostly just me).

What a wonderful evening of mind boggling entertainment. Part of the fun in seeing him perform live was seeing if I could spot anything, anything you couldn’t catch on TV. I think for the hour and a half I caught maybe two or three little moments, but even now I’m not sure if they mean, or meant, anything at all.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to lie down in a dark room for a few days.