"The closest our galaxy can boast to a Jedi Master."
Derren Brown is a prolific magician
whose TV work mostly involves combining these two skills into something popularly described as 'psychological illusion.'
His shows often utilise so many layers of secrecy and deception that nobody involved ever quite knows where they stand.
Derren Brown's Channel 4 shows:
- Mind Control (2000-03)
- Russian Roulette (2003)
- Trick Of The Mind (2004-06)
- Seance (2005)
- The Gathering (2005)
- The Heist (2006)
- Trick Or Treat (2007-08)
- The System (2008)
- The Events (2009)
- Derren Brown Investigates (2010)
- Hero At 30,000 Feet (2010)
- The Experiments (2011)
- Miracles For Sale (2011)
- Apocalypse (2012)
- Fear And Faith (2012)
- The Great Art Robbery (2013)
Derren Brown's stage shows:
- Derren Brown Live (2003-04)
- Something Wicked This Way Comes (2005-06)
- An Evening Of Wonders (2007-08)
- Enigma (2009-10)
- Svengali (2011-12)
- Infamous (2013-14)
Derren Brown's work includes examples of:
- An Aesop: Usually along the lines of 'don't let life pass you by' or 'don't be held back by fear.' Alternatively, 'never ever trust Derren Brown.'
- Candid Camera Prank: Most notably in Apocalypse, where he contrived a Zombie Apocalypse at the expense of one man, and in The Heist, where he conspired to make ordinary middle-managers commit armed robbery.
- Chekhov's Gun: His live shows are full of them in the form of numbers, props and throwaway lines.
- The Chessmaster: Derren himself plays up to this trope in a way that combines general benevolence with mischievous glee.
- Compelling Voice
- Comes Great Responsibility: It's obvious that he could use his ridiculous intelligence to beat casinos or the stock market, yet he chooses to remain a stage hypnotist and author. Awesome.
- Consummate Liar: Derren again.
- Cruel to Be Kind: The idea is that upsetting and frightening experiences help bring his subjects' strengths to the fore. Although sometimes, as in Trick Or Treat, it's just For the Evulz.
- Deal with the Devil: A central motif of Trick Or Treat in particular.
- Even Evil Has Standards: His TV shows are always accompanied by assurances that the victims are assessed as 'stable' by psychologists and that no lasting harm will be caused.
- In Miracles For Sale, the team makes the decision to abandon its fraudulent contract with an American PR company on moral grounds, even though lying to Americans is still very much the focus of the show.
- The Everyman: Most of the subjects/victims.
- Helping Granny Cross the Street: The practise for watch-stealing attempted in The Great Art Robbery.
- Manipulative Bastard: Ironically, Derren's reputation for being able to bend people to his will makes them more suggestible and easier to manipulate.
- Scenery Porn: The live shows. Everything about Svengali, for instance, is a huge nod to Derren's Victoriana habit.
- Show Within a Show: Fake ones often serve as a cover for manoeuvring subjects into position or preparing them for the real stunt. Members of the public have fallen prey to fake TV shows in Fear And Faith, Miracles For Sale, The Heist, Messiah, The Gameshow, The Secret Of Luck... it's a wonder they keep falling for it.
- Straight Gay: The handsome, charismatic mindreader on Channel 4 is gay? Gasp.
- Taxidermy Is Creepy: A long-time collector of dead things, Derren doesn't seem to mind having this applied to himself. Once he actively exploited it. As Chris Addison said:
If you go into your flat, and there's a big stuffed peacock on the mirror above the mantelpiece going all the way down, you don't think "that's a bit much." You think, "that sets off the pickled chimp quite nicely."
- This Loser Is You: His subjects are usually everymen who happen to be highly suggestible.
- Transparent Closet: To his family and friends.
- If anything, I was disappointed to learn that it wasn't much of a surprise. Possibly my penchant for interior decor had given the game away.
- Trickster Mentor: About as close to the supernatural archetype as real life allows. His subjects come through their experiences/ordeals the better for it, having learned some important lesson in some really unconventional (and often profoundly unpleasant) ways.
- Unreliable Narrator/Unreliable Expositor: His key trick in a way. He often lies about exactly what tricks he is using and he often uses slight of hand and claims it to be psychological manipulations. Not that it isn't effective.
- Wicked Cultured: This devilish man enjoys Bach and Mahler, crafts masterpiece portraits in his spare time and did Law & German at the University of Bristol.
- Xanatos Gambit: Especially in The Great Art Robbery, where the supposed thief could have just taken it but gets caught. However, he wasn't the thief at all, his (almost) identical twin was. Therefore, not only did they steal the painting anyway, they didn't even lie when they said the thief was the person in the picture they gave the curator.