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.”
Derren gave me an exclusive glimpse of the highlights from his new series which will be appearing on Channel Four in February after a Christmas Special if all goes to plan. It is honestly amazing. I know amazing is an overused word, but there is no other way to describe it. Seeing him go undercover in a casino and leave with over Â£2500, pickpocket strangers and once again read minds, shows you what a talented and original man Derren is. Now if the live show is just half as good as the new series, it’s going to be a jaw dropping spectacular.
Coming up, Derren has his new series, his tour, an American series, a book and an art exhibition on the card, and a trick which is going to make him massively famous, he is going to play Russian Roulette with a member of the public and plans to be able to read their mind to find out where the bullet is, and not die…humm..good luck Derren! He is a very busy man indeed, however before all that he has his first live performance at Bristol’s intimate Tobacco Factory.
“I chose Bristol to perform in not just because I live here. It’s such a great place and even if I lived elsewhere I’m positive I’d have chosen to try the show out here. I love the Shakespeare at the Tobacco Factory productions and have been amazed at every production I’ve seen. Its a really special theatre, so it was the natural choice for me when it came to choosing a venue.”
“I’m delighted with how well the show’s going, and can’t wait to finally get an audience in to watch it. After years of performing on TV and people doubting, now is a chance for them to see it live. I’ve really missed it. Certainly its a great place to start the show, and it’ll be different to the 2000 seater venues I’ll be visiting in my tour, but that just makes it all the more special.”
The show’s going to feature a massive amount of different tricks by this magician, sorry mind reader, sorry psychological illusionist, sorry mentalist. Oh how I am supposed to describe what he is, when he isn’t even sure, “Magician isn’t right, but psychic isn’t right either.” Derren likes to keep it vague as it adds to the mystique of his character. “The fun of it often is just implying things. Regardless of if your Paul Daniels or David Blaine, its about who you are rather than your tricks. I think magic should get under people’s skin a bit, you shouldn’t just be a jokester.”
“Some woman rang me up and wanted to know the lottery numbers, and she had only seen me do a card trick! It’s one of those things that I like to keep ambiguous, and allow people to make up their own minds, which means you get some people who think everything is fake, and the other extreme say this man can tell the future. Its a bit risky, at least if it was just magic people could tell…but then I may be like Paul Daniels!”
His show’s make him seem very dark, have an edge to him, and it helps massively with the work he does. In real life he couldn’t be more different, he’s polite, charming, and extraordinarily interesting to talk to.
In 1990 while at Bristol University studying Law and German Derren started stage hypnosis, he then moved onto slight of hand magic and performing on the streets, then he came up with this unique blend of magic, mind control, hypnosis and the power of suggestion, “but I’m quite insistent that I never use hypnosis in the show.”
These skills have been learnt over a 10 year period. “When I started I got a bit carried away, and it became second nature so I didn’t think about it and used them to my advantage! Getting free meals when the service has been awful, taking a bit of money home from casinos, blagging my way into shows and things.” And its those adventures which gave him ideas for some of his best tricks. Most certainly the one where he still got money from a bookies after backing a loosing greyhound at the races.
Derren has become quite the celebrity now his TV shows receive many repeat airings, but how does he feel about being noticed? “When I started I used to get people shout “go on, show us a trick” and it got a bit annoying. But now the nice thing is, when I do meet people, they are very nice as I’m off the tv! Its always really pleasant and, yeh, you know, enough people know me around here I find I never get a problem, except well sometimes when I go into shops and ask how much something is they say oh don’t you know! I’m quite private so I avoid a lot of it.â€
Derren is rather friendly with many other magicians including , David Blaine, but he objects to anyone who says he’s copied his style, “I’ve really tried with our show to try and avoid the whole kind of Blaine thing. The Blaine phenomona was so big, but what he has done is made magic a lot cooler and if it wasn’t for that show it would be very difficult to get our show comissioned.
“My favourite trick is the coin guessing, where I can tell which hand a person has a coin in.” It went down really well on the TV show, and gobsmacked me when he tried it out. Betting Â£20 of his own money against mine he asked me five times to put the coin in my hand and he would choose it…..he got it spot on every time, and even made me correctly tell if it was heads or tails in my closed hand.
But what does Derren like to do in Bristol? “I used to love going to the Whiteladies Road Cinema, but it really upset me when they closed it. The Watershed I go to a lot, I love the cinema. I’m very upset I have to go to the one in Broadmead now if I want to see a film. I don’t go to the theatre a lot, because I really hate bad theatre, I’m quite choosey. I look forward to Shakespeare At The Tobacco Factory every year, I always go on my own and come out a wreck, crying like a girl! I really love their stuff. I normally just end up pottering around and doing my own thing though.”
One thing for sure is that Derren’s Show is going to be the most talked about event in Bristol for a long time to come, so don’t miss out on this rare treat. Book now, before it’s too late.
Bristol Restaurants: Markwicks and Ma Provence
Bristol Bar: Swallow Hotel’s Bar
Part Of Bristol: Suspension Bridge
View: Suspension Bridge
Shop: Bristol Classical Discs and Oxfam 2nd Hand Bookstore
Film: Wings Of Desire
TV Shows: League Of Gentleman, Alan Partridge, The Office, that range of comedy. “I loved Big Brother this year as well, I’d be very flattered if I was asked to go on Celebrity Big Brother, but after watching I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here, I’d probably avoid it!”
Radio Station: Radio Four