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Series / Apocalypse

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In 2012, hypnotist and magician Derren Brown abducted an unsuspecting member of the public and placed him in a former military enclosure for two days, with only some actors and hidden cameras for company. Most of the actors were playing zombies, the idea being to convince the victim... er, subject... that he'd lived through a Zombie Apocalypse. The results were broadcast on Channel 4 in October/November, in the form of two hour-long specials.


Apocalypse contains examples of:

  • After the End: Or so Steven thinks.
  • All Just a Dream: Steven's initial thoughts when he wakes up in his room at the end of the experiment. It was only after he meets Derren in the living room that he was told the truth about the experiment.
  • An Aesop: It's repeatedly stressed that Steven, who takes his life for granted, will learn valuable lessons from the apparent loss of everything he loves.
  • The Apocalypse Brings Out the Best in People: The show seeks to prove this, using Steven as its guinea pig.
  • Brave Scot: Iain, another so-called survivor.
  • Candid Camera Prank: One of the grandest in TV history.
  • Character Development: Steven undergoes a great deal of this in a short space of time, which was kind of the point.
  • Cowardly Sidekick: Danny, one of the 'survivors' played by actors.
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  • Creator Cameo: Iain Sharkey, Derren's co-writer who helped develop the concept for the show, appears as the very first zombie: screaming and covered in blood in a trashed hospital ward, naked except for a hospital gown. Nice.
  • Cruel to Be Kind: This is one of Derren Brown's favourite tropes, and Apocalypse is probably the most elaborate example to date.
  • The Everyman: Steven was targeted precisely for being one of these.
  • Epiphany Therapy: Derren specifically constructed the characters in the experiment to bring out the best in Steven.
  • Foreshadowing: The first episode features a close-up shot of a discarded prescription slip for "Rumyodin". This would tie in to the special that premiered immediately after this special, Fear And Faith.
  • Gaslighting: How they planted the thoughts of an impending meteor strike into Steven's mind. Involves several jailbroken and trojan horsed iDevices (including Steven's iPhone, which Derren got Steven's brother to steal), hijacking the family's cable box, and even getting his family, friends, and the local radio station in on the gig.
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  • The Game Never Stopped: Steven was told he failed to qualify for partaking in the special. This was done so he doesn't get suspicious of his surrounding when the gaslighting, and eventually the elaborate con, starts.
  • Hollywood Hacking: Each time Derren sends fake news about the meteor shower to the hijacked iDevice, they roll a CGI scene of the signal being sent out to a satellite and bounced back to earth. Ultimately, this is just for Rule of Cool- it should be noted that no iDevice in the market have a satellite-capable phone radio, the signal will still come through cell towers just like other phones. Subverted, however, when they were hacking Steven's phone- it can be clearly seen that they are actually jailbreaking it and then installing a VNC server among other things.
  • The Leader: Iain is a type II. When he withdraws from the role, Steven takes his place.
  • Not Using the "Z" Word: The zombies are referred to as 'the infected.'
  • Off to See the Wizard: Steven survives a natural disaster, finds himself transported to a bizarre world, meets Leona - a bad pun on 'lion' - and, with the help of two other flawed sidekicks, comes to realise that certain lacking qualities were actually within him all along. Failing the Yellow Brecon Road, the mysterious 'Oscar Zulu' (Oz, obviously) offers to fly him home but he goes back for Leona and misses out on the ride, so it falls to a Deus ex Machina in the form of a phone call to reawaken him back at home... as if it were all a dream. We do have Word of God on this.
  • Plague Zombie
  • Shout-Out / Freeze-Frame Bonus:
    • Derren returns in the epilogue to talk to Steven 28 Days Later.
    • Also to The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, starting from subliminal (Kansas Autos car repair) and then getting more and more obvious as the special marched on.
  • Technically Living Zombie
  • This Loser Is You: Steven.
  • You Wake Up in a Room: After a snap induction and a short period of trance, Steven wakes up in an empty hospital with no memory of how he got there. Also used in reverse when they had to put Steven out to return him home, Steven wakes up in his own bedroom after the event.
  • Zombie Apocalypse
  • Zombie Infectee: Iain's wife Sarah averts the deception element of this trope by coming out as infected almost immediately.

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