Derren Brown Interview Archive

Every week we will be pulling an old interview from the archive and posting it on the blog.

This week a Nowt 2 Do interview from 2002

A truly remarkable man, very charming, very British, and very interesting, welcome to the world of Derren Brown. Derren is easily Britain’s most unique magical performer and ,hot on the heels of his Channel 4 Specials and making a new series of “Mind Control,” performs a one off run at Bristol’s Tobacco Factory. Nowt2Do.Com were lucky enough to secure an interview with Derren in his Clifton home to find out about Bristol, The show and all things magical!

They say a home can tell you a lot about a person, well Derren’s home can tell you almost everything about him. An extremely well lived in flat situated right slap bang in the heart of Clifton was where I met Derren and Figaro his parrot. His flat is stunning, walls plastered with books (Kafka, psychology, magic), stuffed animals, an assortment of magical memorabilia, and his astounding portraits. Anthony Hopkins, Franz Kafka, Uri Geller, himself, Teller (of Penn and Teller fame!) are amongst the most notable, all strikingly realistic yet marked with Derren’s unique style. “It’s how I like to relax, put some music on and just paint, it’s the opposite of performing I absolutely love it. They are not caricatures as such, just seem to turn out similar to their style! I have a great memory for faces, and its basically how I see people. I hope to organise them into an exhibition after the tour and series.” Read More

Some musical listening-items for you.

Last night we had ourselves a little party after the show, courtesy of the M&S Party Food aisle here in Reading. (We didn’t actually hold the party in the aisle – is that ambiguous? I just bought the num-nums there). Stephen Long, our brilliant, erstwhile crew-member-turned-singer-songwriter was at the party, all grins and compliments on the show, as was the delightful Joe Sparks, who you may or may not know as an equally talented performer. Those of you with volumes to turn up, enjoy the musical brilliances of our good friends. Stephen has just released an EP, and Joe has been signed by Oli Claw records with an album called Black 26 that launches in July. Please listen and enjoy. 

Joe Sparks

Stephen Long

At the Parrot Zoo


While playing in Grimsby we spent an afternoon in the sensational National Parrot Zoo, in Lincolnshire, of which you’ll already know that your dedicated Blogger is Patron Saint. The Zoo is the largest of its kind in Europe, set to expand even more, and is uniquely dedicated to the welfare and rehabilitation of sick parrots. Alongside that, Steve Nicholls, the Zoo’s profoundly committed owner, is undeniably the country’s most knowlegeable expert on these animals, carrying out extensive research into the much misunderstood beauties. The place is a moving testament to his understanding and knowledge. 

Jen and Iain had never been before, and were bowled over. Steve showed me where he’s planted 10,000 willow trees for the new extension across into adjoining fields. It really is a wonderful place and well worth a visit.

They are the most sensational creatures. Steve was telling me that quite a few of them had owners during the war, and have lived through the Blitz, the sounds of which they have stored away for decades. Occasionally, the right sort of noise will trigger one off, and a whole host of sounds will emerge: milkman, morning chatter, then the sound of a bomb dropping. The whistling arc of the descending bomb would then re-awaken the other older birds to their own recorded memories, and soon a whole aviary would be presenting the sounds of the 1940-41 arial attack. Astonishing, and oddly moving, to think of all that history locked away in those little feathered heads. 

Here’s one bird who spent a little too long listening to the muffled sound of its owner on the phone in the next room:

And this is just wonderful. Steve was out amongst the aviaries at night and came across a group of Amazons huddled together, all asleep apart from one, who was singing ‘Go To Sleep My Baby’. Presumably this used to be sung to it by his owner. By the time Steve returned with a camera, the bird had moved onto a different song, which we’re having a hard time distinguishing. We’re guessing it’s nothing in particular, if you know it, please tell us, and we’ll send you a little prize as a thank you:

Make sure you visit the zoo and say Hello from me. 

The last couple of days began with a lovely welcome by the terrific crew at Sheffield City Hall. It’s a tricky venue, for technical reasons, in which to set up the show, but the excellent and super-friendly staff more than make up for it,  and both nights went well. Andy Nyman, who has been filming Black Death in Germany, managed to make it over for the first night to see the show up and running for the first time since previews. And to show us his handsome new filming-beard. 

Sheffield did not, however, bring with it any useable wi-fi in the hotel (I’m NOT paying for it, that’s just plain wrong), hence you not hearing from me for a few days.

I meant to post a thank you for all the gifts I’ve been getting – thank you so much, it’s very kind indeed. And for the six of you at Sheffield last night standing at stage door in the driving rain for over half an hour when I’d been told no-one was bothering… apologies and thank you. Hope none of you caught colds. 

Tonight we’re in Reading, with our grinning friend and handsome songsmith Stephen Long in the audience. And our very own Phillis will be there too, hiding at the back… see if you can spot her. 

Much love, 


Derren Brown Interview – News Of The World

I’m at my best when I’m on my own and reading. It takes me back to my 20s when I was living in Bristol, doing magic shows. I spent the rest of my time drinking tea with my nose in a book.

Those closest to me would describe me as very different from the guy on TV. I’m a lot sillier and more friendly. I enjoy making others laugh. The telly guy is really controlling, but that’s because of my job.

One thing about my past I don’t admit easily is I had a bit of a kleptomaniac phase in the ’80s. I’d steal CDs, toys and gadgets from shops. I remember looking round my bedroom as a kid and thinking: “God, I’ve stolen pretty much everything in here.” I never got caught and stopped as I got older.

The three things I’d want on a desert island are my Mac, a router and a very long cable to plug them in. I get frustrated if I can’t keep in touch with people, plus I imagine the appeal of pornography would be strong if I was alone!

One thing I’d like to do before I die is travel more. My job takes me to Europe and America, but they’re obvious places. I’ve never been off the beaten track.

If I advertised myself on a dating site, it would read “Nice guy wants to meet nice guy.” So much these days is about being goal-driven, but being kind is the greatest asset you can have.

The thing I like least about myself is my shape. I was skinny until I was 30 so never did any sport. But now my metabolism’s changed, I have to make an effort to keep trim.

My fantasy dinner date would be my friend Joe, who lives in Sweden. I’ve met a few of my idols and they’re always a disappointment. I usually clam up and come away feeling like I’ve been boring.

The thing I value most is the quality of loveliness. It’s undervalued.
My biggest regret is not sleeping with more people when I was younger – I was a bit of a loner.

If I wasn’t a magician I’d paint. It’s always been my first love – but I don’t know how much of a living I’d make.

Answer the following

I’m often overcome by strong emotions: Never

My friends think I’m very outgoing: Never

I love debating intellectual ideas and concepts: Always

I’m very energetic and live a fast-paced life: Never

I enjoy making people feel appreciated: Always

News Of The World


Well again! New-found health and the spanking Portraits Book made Grimsby a very happy place for me. I like to think that the relief that I felt in finding my voice and energy again, was comparable to the relief felt by the group of girls Coops and Andy found urinating by our van in an open car park during the interval of the first night. Group, mind. 

The shows were fine: the room has a tricky quality found in a few venues, where the front row of the audience is sat quite far away from the stage, and then the rows sweep back and back in a huge, high barn of a room. There are no balconies, so the 1300 seats just go back and back. The end result is that on stage, you barely hear any reaction from the audience, which can be a tiny bit demoralising. The lovely people are so far away, and the ceiling so high, that the sound just doesn’t reach me. Anyhow, they were all very polite at the end, cheered and stood in all the right places, so despite the acoustic setbacks, it was nice to know they enjoyed it. Thank you, Grimsbians. 

We had dinner after the second show in a truck stop near our hotel. A truck stop! Imagine that. We were looked after royally by the lovely Natalie (and Dawn in the kitchen), and we had bacon and eggs and beans and a sausage and wine: a delicious Shiraz chosen by Coops from the shelves of said truck stop. The rozzers then came in and those of us driving had to decline the wine in case they nicked us. I also took the opportunity to buy myself a ‘fashion hat’, which I’m wearing in the photo Coops took, as well as a 3CD set of Power Ballads for Jennie. That was a fun episode in our fun tour. 

We have been beset by other illnesses: Simon, our company manager, has managed to get proper ‘flu’, and today’s news is that Iain may be contracting the same nasty virus. I’m hoping it’s just the flimsy whoopsie-cold that I had and not the serious strain that has beset poor Simon, who has had to be replaced for a few days by a new man, Chris, whom we’re meeting soon. This feels like getting a new step-Dad (Simon Dodson = Dodders = Dadders = Dad, you see), so we hope that we like him. Simon, our real Dad, is quite wonderful. 

Please send your fondest well-wishes and heartfelt prayers to our ailing crew. We could all literally die.


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