Every now and then I have a conversation with someone who has seen a couple of my shows, but hasnâ€™t read my books or writings, and believes I claim to do all sorts of things that I really donâ€™t. As I had such a discussion last night, and as Iâ€™ve been talking about the importance of testing psychic claims that could be fraudulent, I thought I would clarify a few points regarding my own work for anyone in any doubt.
Firstly, regarding the â€˜tricksâ€™ as performed in the older shows:
1. I have never used stooges. People generally imagine I must do if they can find no other explanation. But I donâ€™t: it would be artistically repugnant, totally unnecessary, impractical, and would spell career suicide.
2. My techniques are rooted in conjuring magic and hypnosis. All else is most likely misdirection and should be taken with a hefty pinch of salt.
3. I have never claimed to use NLP to achieve my â€˜tricksâ€™. On the contrary, I have written very critically about it inÂ Tricks of the Mind. I reserve the same scepticism for subliminal messaging, as well as a lot of body-language reading and the like.
Now, I have largely moved on from performing those sorts of tricks. So, as regards the specials, such asÂ The Experiments and others:
1. Again, the people used are never stooges or set up in any way. They generally apply through an open audition process, whereby we meet or interview them and look at various qualities they possess which would be useful (for example their jobs, beliefs, or how suggestible they are).
2. The contributors are always psychologically screened if they are going to go through a â€˜toughâ€™ experience. Without giving away what the show is, or giving them any clue that they will be used in it, we arrange for our preferred participants to have interviews with an independent psychologist who ensures that they will be â€˜robustâ€™ enough for the show. This is an important part of our duty of care, which we take very seriously throughout the entire process of making the programmes. And the â€˜heroesâ€™ of these specials always emerge exhilarated and delighted to have been part of it.
3. If I make a statement on these shows, it will be true. Nowadays, the Channel 4 lawyers check every word to make sure there is no misleading of the viewer: this is a huge issue in the TV industry at the moment. The joke in the office is that a magician canâ€™t even say â€˜this is a normal deck of cardsâ€™ on TV nowadays if it isnâ€™t, and I donâ€™t think thatâ€™s an exaggeration.
I know that fans will know all this already, but itâ€™s always worth repeating. Have lovely days and enjoy tonightâ€™s show if youâ€™re watching.
I thought I would pen a few words about the high-profile test offered to Sally Morgan by Simon Singh, Chris French and the Merseyside Skeptics tomorrow Monday. It looks like Sally has declined to take part, but their offer is open to conduct a fair test or at least discuss the test with her to make sure both they and her are happy with it.
Simon Singh, along with other sceptics, has had concerns about Sally and published them here on his blog. I add, as does he, that I am not saying that Sally is a fake or a fraud. I’d really like to think that she’s not, but reserve all judgement. I don’t know her and have never seen her show, on TV or on stage. Even if I had, my opinion about her would mean very little, and I’m sure she could give a flying doughnut about what I had to say. Really the only worthwhile point is whether claims such as Sally’s stand up to testing, not what I or any other individual with our own inevitable prejudices happens to think.
Until recently, I thought I had never met her, but I have since heard rather excitingly that I may have filmed an unused sequence with Sally once at her home. If I did, it would have been for one of those old Mind Control specials ten or so years ago. I have my team looking into that to see if we ever did and if they can dig it out. Certainly we filmed with one lady psychic at her house, where we each gave each other a reading, so perhaps that was it.
Sally has recently received mixed media attention following a phone call to a radio station made by a lady who had attended her show in Dublin, who said she heard what sounded like verbal cues being given to the medium on stage. Apparently she heard phrases like ‘Dave – bad back’ being whispered from the lighting booth at the back of the auditorium a few seconds before Sally repeated those words on stage, raising the strong suspicion in this woman’s mind that Sally was using an earpiece. If this were true, it would follow that the assistant in the booth had most likely picked up information in the foyer where people were openly discussing what they were hoping to hear that night. The phone call can be heard here and is worth listening to in full. Sally has since denied the insinuations, saying that it was simply lighting technicians chatting, although to me this doesn’t seem to answer the question of why she was delivering lines moments after they were heard coming from the booth.
Frustratingly for Sally, her explanation may of course be fair. To be honest, if I were a fake psychic and wanted to use an earpiece to receive my cues, I wouldn’t put my assistant in the lighting booth where in-house staff would normally work. There would be the advantage of receiving visual cues, but my preference would be to tuck him away safely backstage somewhere. Unless, that is, I was supplying all the crew for the show, in which case it (more…)
I have been asked by those who ask such things to remind you that tonight on C4, 9pm is the first episode of my new series, Derren Brown: The Experiments.
We kick off with ‘The Assassin’. Here are some teeny teaser clips of tonight’s show which you may or may not enjoy.
If you like a little comment, then do feel free to comment throughout and after the show here on this blog.
What larks. Please enjoy the show.
My dear bloggees.
I have, these past few months, been secretly ferreting away on a new series of four weekly specials (and theyÂ are specials) for Chanel no. 4. I have been up to all manner of no good, hiding out here and there and making people do all sorts of dreadful things. Trailers and whatnot will be emerging very soon, but I wanted you to hear it here first.
The shows are called Derren Brown: The Experiments. The â€˜Derren Brownâ€™ bit, youâ€™ll be immediately relieved, refers to me; the â€˜The Experimentsâ€™ part is what they are. Each special is an ambitious sociological experiment, in which the unwitting subject is a single person, a crowd, or even an entire town.
Unlike previous shows, these are driven by open-ended questions. They are experiments into whether certain things are possible, or what would happen if certain situations arose, or how people might behave under certain conditions. Three of the four very much look at the darkest edges of human behaviour, and given that, Iâ€™m sure thereâ€™ll be all manner of complaints. I, meanwhile, am rather fond of them.
Weâ€™ll be posting all information here on this site first. Details of the first show should be here tomorrow.
The Experiments start on Friday, October 21st at 9pm, C4.
I do hope you enjoy them.
Right. I’m not going to answer any questions on this I’m afraid, and neither can anyone else. For all the usual reasons. But if you’re in the UK and over 18 and would like to apply to take part in my new projects, please email the address below. Your email will NOT be read, so no need to say anything: it will automatically bounce back with a big questionnaire for you to fill in and send back.
Here’s the address:
Don’t do this unless you genuinely want to take part. Your decision.