1. The man you have to initially blame/thank for the unstoppable rise of Derren Brown is Jerry Sadowitz. They first met in a magic shop in London and after swapping tricks soon became pals, with Sadowitz helping Brown get his first lecture gig for magicians and recommending him to production companies.
Very true – Jerry helped Pure Effect get published, hugely supported my early work and then gave my name to Objective (just the one production company) when they were looking for some sort of mind-reader fellow to do a telly show. If it wasn’t for Jerry, I wouldn’t be bothering you at all.Â
2. Brown claims to be flattered that Kenny Craig, the magic act in Little Britain (you know, â€˜look into the eyes, not around the eyesâ€™) might be based on him, considering Kenny to be better looking than himself.
I could never quite understand the link that some others presumed to exist, not being a stage hypnotist myself. I asked Matt Lucas about it and he confirmed it wasn’t based on me. But prior to this I was asked in an interview if I was theÂ inspiration, and I replied, Â ‘I don’t think so, Â but I’d be flattered if I was’. Or something. Don’t remember sayingÂ anythingÂ about either of us being better looking.Â
3. He studied law and German at Bristol University, where he first took to the stage as â€˜Darren V Brownâ€™. V is for Victor.
This is true, but do not be concerned, I was born DERREN, not DARREN. I grew up being called Darren by everyone, even though this was not my born name; hence these early shows were advertised under this admittedly drearier variant. Once I started performing a lot, I reverted to my original Christian name.Â
4. Fellow magician Andy Nyman has been his working partner for several years, having co-created the likes of Russian Roulette and Seance. You may have seen Nyman being disembowelled and decapitated during Charlie Brookerâ€™s Dead Set, while playing the outspoken telly producer Patrick.
Yup, and as an actor first-and-foremost, recent years have also seen him most memorably in Dead Babies, Severance, and Frank Oz’s brilliant Death at a Funeral. And anyone who caught his extraordinary performance in ‘Moonlight and Magnolias’ at the Tricycle Theatre will never forget his relentless energy. He’s a great alter-ego for me: emotive, impulsive and earthy where I’m cerebral, considered and indecisive. We do well together.Â
5. Although thereâ€™s never any question that his helpers on the TV shows are not plants, he often becomes friends with those he has tortured. The guy who loaded the gun in Russian Roulette once accompanied Brown to a screening of Team America to the suspicion of many onlookers.
Some of you found that first sentence ambiguous. Looks like it’s been cleared up. I have never used stooges, never had people just ‘playing along’. It’s an artistic travesty and plain lazy. As for making friends, get this: Iain, the supposedly ‘handsome’ one with us on tour, I met while filming Seance. He’s the guy who goes into the Spirit Cabinet at the end and freaks out. He has longer hair now but that’s him. He was so bowled over by the experience that he started studying magic and suggestion, and what with him being a staggeringly lovely chap, we quickly became very good friends. Now he writes with Andy and me on the TV show, has met the love of his life through filming with us, and is a treasured tour companion.Â
Some other facts for your delectation:
6. Derren lives with two giraffes. One is a six-foot baby, stuffed in his hallway (it was stillborn, please don’t be upset: all taxidermy owned is humanely secured), and the other is a skeleton of the neck and head of an adult, which spans the wall in his office at home.Â
7. Derren set fire to a neighbour’s boat when he was nine. His most devastating, gut-wrenching childhood memory. He was playing with matches, along with the neighbour’s son, and managed to set a tarpaulin on fire that was covering a boat that the father was building. Probably the father’s life’s work. The whole lot went up. Christ. He went home, hid himself, and prayed to God to make-it-didn’t-happen.Â
8. Derren hates mushrooms, parsnips (unless honey-roasted, in which case they’re bearable), mushy peas, and has to sleep in a cold room. If you’d have asked him at age ten what he would grow up to be, he’d have said, ‘A poet, or a vet”.Â