Tricks of the trade

We get a lot of emails asking how things are done, what to read, watch, wear and eat – and we’d love to reply to everyone but there simply isn’t the time at the moment.

A note to those who don’t know we have all the recommended stuff here or just click on the recommended links for a more extended list, ideal for the truly hardcore, hopefully the links haven’t died. Anyone who has got through that lot deserves a medal and some new shelves.

We will be updating and adding more stuff when we can – shouldn’t be too long.

Also a reminder that the art store now features ALL of Derren’s prints at every size. More updates coming soon with 2 new releases and it looks like certain sizes will sell out never to be released again.

End of Hull

(From the Agingbooth iPhone app. How I feel with 4 months left to go…)

We all had a terrific time in Hull – thank you any of you who came to see it and formed a part of a really sensational audience. We had a great crew in the theatre, which always helps, and the changes I’ve been making to one of the routines seemed to settle in okay. Participants were largely bright and bubbly on stage, which makes all the difference. I noticed on a couple of occasions around Hull that when I said ‘Hello’ to a passing child, they cheerily waved and greeted me back: something that would never occur in the places I hark from. That must be a good and happy sign. It’s lovely to see a cheery, friendly city reflected in the mood of an audience. Thank you all hugely.

One thing that Hull did bring was an inordinate amount of generously chosen gifts from people at the stage door. This was a very lovely gesture from all the people concerned: thank you ever so much. I must, however, ask that if you are one of those few who are thinking of bringing a present or bag of goodies to a future show, please save yourself the time and money. I feel bad taking them: the reality is that it’s just not possible to take most of the gifts around with us, and even bags of the most gorgeous-looking sweets and chocolate tend to remain woefully uneaten as touring does not allow for such a diet. I hope you don’t mind me saying that it means more than enough me that you would buy a ticket or even bother to stand around in the cold just say a nice hello after the show. (On this subject, I know Coops and Iain are starting to develop an abreaction to Roast Beef Monster Munch, but I say keep them coming… they made their bed and can now lie in it, crumbs and all).

After another 5 hour journey, during which some great ideas were hatched for a future TV special, we’re now in Southampton, or at least in an hotel nearby. I’m having a coffee in the ‘brasserie’ of this gorgeous old hotel. It’s rather idyllic, and has a tranquility that will not be found as readily around the back of the Mayflower Theatre over the next few days, with its train tracks and Toys ‘R’ Us. This may be the first year we do not hit the toyshop with the enthusiasm of its younger demographic: previous tours have seen us eager to stock up on soft toys to throw, and remote control helicopters with which to amuse ourselves in the auditorium. Preceding years also saw us staying in the unhappy DeVere hotel nearby, which we all remember uncharitably as the ‘Let’s Get Ou-de-vere’. That’s tricky to make work in print, but you can see what we did.

Staying in so many hotels one after another turns one into a terrible, intolerant twot. Anything other than the warmest reception at the front desk immediately makes every aspect of the place feel unwelcoming, and seeing another teak-veneer desk unit or chintzy eiderdown makes the heart sink unnecessarily. One becomes hyper-critical of slow or indifferent service and far more ready to complain about a poor steak, purely because, through no fault of the hotel’s, one has grown sick of it in previous establishments. Hateful. On top of that, though we really could not be any less rock ‘n’ roll as a touring group (our production manager once spilt ketchup on a white carpet: that’s as mad as it’s ever got), we are usually the noisiest table in the restaurant and often bundle into the most beautiful old converted stately homes in the scruffiest, most embarrassing attire, immediately sending out a message that we may not be quite right for the place. To then catch oneself calling front desk with the back-catalogue of frustration that comes from calling ten previous front desks with the same point of frustration, is to realise that one has fallen prey to the curse of the privileged: expecting other people to have nothing better to do that fit in with your own desires and make your life easy.

The wealthier you are (or the more you get used to staying in hotels on tour), the worse this becomes. As Alain de Botton has said, it’s always the arguments at the first-class check-in desk that are the nastiest. Foul.

Having said that, I’m honoured to be with such a delightful and pleasantly-mannered group. And the temptation to take these hotels for granted is a good reminder to me regarding what we unfairly expect from others.

Oh for fuck’s sake my sugar lumps aren’t individually wrapped again.

Hull, first night

Last night was especially fun. A day off (Wednesday had been a travelling day from Eastbourne to Hull) always brings a slight scattiness to the performance, which was all part of the fun created by a terrific audience. Eastbourne crowds are lovely but famously quiet, so it was encouraging to really feel the presence of the audience again. The participants too were lively and fun – all very much appreciated. I really loved the show.

It was a real pleasure to meet so many of you afterwards too: thank you those of you who bought prezzies for me and the crew. Particular mention to the delightful Elizabeth who had brought far too many generous gifts wrapped in impressively home-produced ‘Derren Brown’ wrapping paper. Thank you all. And I know Coops was very impressed with his Roast Beef Monster Munch T-shirt last night: an excellent coup, I thought, pun intended.

It is such a sweet thing to occasionally be handed a little prezzie from someone who’s enjoyed the show, but please don’t go over the top with them. Think we’re going to need a bigger truck…

Today I must persevere with TV writing accompanied by the brilliant Iain: some pressure is on to assemble ideas into a produceable format. Together we shall pace my small room and sweat blood until a new nugget of sparkling televisual gold is alchemically formed. Or not: more likely we’ll settle on an idea that seems ridiculous in the morning. I’m also doing a TV interview this afternoon for BBC ‘Look North’, during which I shall insist on looking North. They want to do it in a dressing room, but I don’t think they’ve seen how small the dressing rooms are. I don’t have long to think of a few amusing things to have in the background… false goatees lined up on polystyrene heads, that sort of thing.

Thanking you.



I arrived at Bristol to find a note in my dressing room from Dara O’Briain wishing me enjoyable shows with the bright and energetic crowds of Bristol. And he was very right in his description. Bristol is famously a great house to play: the roar when I came on stage was long and deafening, and audience and participants alike were fantastic. The first night it really took me by surprise and I hugely enjoyed myself. The second night, the adrenalin wasn’t there so much and I think I was a little under par, and then the third was good fun again.
We stayed in the wonderful Hotel Du Vin, which kicks the ass of any other hotel on tour. Impeccable.
Friday we went to the Zoo and had a great tour day out. Saturday was tea round at Peter Clifford’s, whom some of you will know from The Devil’s Picturebook and The Heist. Others of you may know my dear friend from his roles in the stunningly good Shakespeare at the Tobacco Factory seasons. They’re about to do The Tempest and Midsummer Night’s Dream in the gorgeous Tobacco Factory theatre where I got started, so do go along if you can. It was a wonderful stay in my beautiful University home.

We are now in Eastbourne. It’s a very different crowd, but the shows have been good so far. A good friend has come over from the States to see the show (and Andy’s Ghost Stories) and today we had a bloating pub lunch in the nearby village of Alfriston, which I may have spelt correctly. Our hotel is a stranger to wi-fi, so I have been slow on blog entries. I type this, as I tend to tweet, face down in a steamer sat in my dressing room.

Excitingly, I am trying out something new in the show. It’s a new ending to one of the pieces that felt like it needed it. It’s really enjoyable to let it settle in and make these sorts of changes. Keeps one on ones tootsies.




After the unwelcoming place near Buxton, it’s a joy to have stayed in the Malmaison on the Liverpool docks (‘malmaison’ = ‘bad house’, still don’t get that) where the staff could not be any more accommodating and delightful. I am assured by a friend who knows someone who knows someone that my particular room was once occupied by Amy Winehouse, which is very exciting. Have searched the room for any trace, but housekeeping have presumably done an excellent job in the meantime. Oh dear, we couldn’t be any less rock and roll as a touring troupe.

Liverpool has been immense fun. It’s a tricky room to play: the beautiful Empire auditorium is set far away from the stage, and sucks up most of the sound of the audience, so it takes a bit of acclimatising to realise that the audience are actually enjoying it. The tiny Buxton Opera House threw back much more noise at me. Having said that, the roar at the end of both shows here was quite something, and, if I may be so fat-headed, the spontaneous 2000-strong standing ovations looked just amazing from my perspective on the stage. So thank you Liverpool, you were spectacular. Some really touching gifts and letters from people, and a warmth and  loveliness at stage door which are hard to come by anywhere else in the country. (Having said that, the first night did bring one pissed guy up on stage in the first half, but for the brief time I kept him up there he was pretty funny).

I’ve noted that people are very kindly tweeting in the interval – please do your best not to give anything away that you’ve seen in the first half though, if you don’t mind. It’s lovely to meet so many of my Twitter followers after the show. On that subject, I hope you won’t mind me saying that it’s very hard to avoid offending a handful of Twitter followers to whom I can’t give the individual attention and dialogue they seem to need. It does take the fun out of using Twitter. I’d love to continue using it, as I do enjoy it most of the time, and I hope those few will take a deep breath and use Twitter in the casual spirit it’s best enjoyed in. Thank you all for the enthusiastic tweets after the shows – they make lovely reading and are very much appreciated. In particular I’m very grateful that you’re all good enough not to tweet any spoilers: the show is so much better when you don’t know what’s coming.

Tomorrow we’re off to Bristol, which feels like my spiritual home. To play the Hippodrome, where I queued so many nights as a student, alone, to watch touring opera companies… it’s such a delight. I shall be touring old haunts tomorrow and enjoying myself immensely.

I await my gorgeous crew for soup and booze, and then it’s an early start. I’ve just had a pizza that I should have probably avoided. And my ludicrously fancy suite has a bathtub in the front room – imagine that! To think that Amy probably sat in it, enjoying a glass of wine and watching telly.

Getting very tired. Ner-night, trust you’re all splendid.