Derren Brown: TV Series

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Series Eight: Derren Brown: The Events broadcast on C4 from September 2009

Event One (part 1) The Event Live: Wednesday 9 September 2009 (C4)

  • DB explains that he aims to predict at least five of the six numbers needed to win a prize in the National Lottery and has six balls with his prediction of the winning numbers printed on them in order.
  • A live feed of the BBC's draw is shown and DB writes down the numbers that have been drawn; he turns the stand containing his prediction around and the printed numbers match the numbers from the evening's draw.

Event One (part 2) How to Win the Lottery: Friday 11 September 2009 (C4)

  • DB introduces the show dismissing theories that have abounded since Wednesday's live show (including LED displays, split screen technology and sleight of hand) and plays the draw from Wednesday again.
  • DB asks the audience to put their hands up if they do not like mice; he then picks one of the people who is afraid of mice. She is shown three covered boxes, one of which contains a mouse, and has to put her hand into three of the boxes. A numbered card is in front of each box and the one corresponding to the box with the mouse in is marked on the reverse to ensure boxes cannot be switched around and DB's prediction of the box she would avoid can be proved. DB reveals the contents of the first box she picks - box 3 - to the audience while she is not looking, and she then puts her hand in the box which is empty; this is repeated with box 1 and box 2. Box 4 is then also shown to be empty, but the card in front of the box has a mouse printed on the reverse and DB suggests is was the woman's fear which allowed him to predict her choice.
  • A volunteer, Matt, is shown twenty numbered inverted polystyrene cups and he is going to stamp on 14 of them but under one of them is a knife; DB ascertains that Matt would accept £500,000 to put a knife through his foot, so writes a cheque in case compensation is required and gives it to Matt. There are paramedics present and Matt is given a tetanus shot. Matt safely stamps on 14 of the cups and the remaining six cups' numbers are noted. DB asks Matt to look on the back of the cheque and he finds a list of the six numbers on which he did not stamp. DB stamps on one cup and gives Matt the option to stamp on four more cups, with the bet still standing. Matt stamps on four more safely, leaving just number 13 remaining. DB explains that none of the cups hid a knife and he just needed to create fear to get Matt to leave the predicted six numbers. DB then lifts #13 and reveals a mouse safely under the cup.
  • DB cites an experiment in which will power apparently affected the result of balls being dropped into a bagatelle-like board and he wants to see whether people's will power can affect the outcome of a coin toss. A volunteer picks three heads (HHH) as the sequence he hopes to toss and DB goes for THH although someone will be tossing his coin on his behalf to ensure fair play. A group of supporters side with DB's choice leaving the original volunteer on his own. Each time the sequence comes up the team score a point and the team soon win and it is felt that they won because of the support. However, DB explains that his team was always going to win because of maths:
    • there are eight possible sequences of three tosses: HHH, HHT, HTH, THH, HTT, THT, TTH, and TTT
    • the spec has to chose their sequence first
    • and then DB's prediction is 'calculated' by working out the opposite of the middle of chosen three and moving it to the start of the sequence - therefore HHH becomes THH
    • maths will then ensure the second choice will occur move often than the first sequence
  • DB explains a phenomenon observed in 1906 by Francis Galton and called the Wisdom of Crowds: 800 people were asked to guess the weight of an ox and the mean average of their guesses was the most accurate and he now wants to apply this to the Lottery. He has a group of 24 volunteers look at a year's worth of lottery results and make their own predictions from which averages are then calculated. The averages were then bet and only one number came up and DB blamed the outcome on greed. He therefore repeats the experiment but the 'prediction' is not calculated until after the draw; this time, three numbers match.
  • The 24 volunteers take part in team building activities to create a better prediction and then gather to make another prediction. DB introduces the idea of automatic writing as used by spiritualists and the volunteers - with the exception of one who struggled with the concept - write their numbers automatically. The final volunteer then interprets the automatic writing to calculate the 'prediction' again; this time four of the numbers match.
  • On the day of the televised live draw, the 24 volunteers repeat the process again and DB calculates the prediction without sharing the numbers with anyone and the live broadcast is shown again, the team having correctly predicted the numbers.
  • DB semi-jokingly explains the process that he could have gone through the fix the lottery concluding by announcing if anyone asks him how he predicted the lottery, he will tell them it was "just a trick"

Event Two How to Control the Nation: Friday 18 September 2009 (C4) TVWatch on 4OD

  • DB explains that he has created a short subliminal film which will causes the viewers at home to be stuck to their seats and a warning is shown at the bottom of the picture saying that 'Subliminal images will be flashed during this show'; viewers are told to have their phone to hand so they can call in during the show. The film will be shown later in the programme after the ideas behind it have been demonstrated.
  • DB has two cards, one reading 'Win', the other reading 'Lose' and the audience is asked to decide which one to pick. A volunteer is selected and she 'loses'; however, she is then taken to the stage where she will play again, but this time for money, with the odds stacked in her favour. Nine win and one lose card are shuffled, the volunteer picks one and then changes her mind: she picks the lose card. Although the backs of the cards all appear blank, DB uses a UV light to show the one the volunteer picked said 'Pick Me' invisibly on the back. Twenty people wearing numbered green t-shirts which include a white panel are arranged in a semi-circle on stage, 19 of whom have 'win' printed on their back and one has 'lose'; the volunteer has to eliminate 19 people. The audience is shown that only number 19 has 'lose' printed on their back and the volunteer duly selects eighteen 'wins' and then is left with a 50/50 choice and is left with the 'lose' t-shirt. DB claims that number 19's white panel is designed to be more appealing than the others.
  • DB a potted history of subliminals including the names James Vicary, and Vance Packard. He uses the term "perception without awareness" to more accurately describe the research that has gone one moer recently.
  • DB meets a volunteer - Alice - at Hamleys, he presents her with a goodie bag and they then walk around the shop together. DB then tells her to walk around the store and mentally select a toy. DB then apparently mind reads her choice of toy and it is a stuffed giraffe. DB asks her what the giraffe's name would be, and she says 'Frank'. Her goodie bag is then shown to contain a collar tag with the name Frank on, and as DB escorts her out of the store, there is an enormous giraffe with a 'Frank' name tag on in the street outside. DB then shows a whole range of giraffe references places around the store which influenced her to choose the giraffe.
  • DB tells the audience that a piece of music will cause one person to volunteer for the next effect: an electronic piece is played - apparently containing subliminals - and Joe raises his hand; DB takes him to the stage. Joe picks one of three coloured chairs, a coloured pen from a large selection and then has to number three white blocks in secret. DB instructs him to stack them in any order and to cover the stack with a paper bag. DB then shows a series of photographs of him with a green chair, a blue pen, and the blocks in the order 3-1-2: all of which match Joe's choices. DB then points out that for Joe to raise his hand was apparently a free choice: he inverts the three chairs and only the green one has an envelope stuck underneath it. Joe opens the envelope and it contains a card with the number 295 on it: DB reveals that this is the number of Joe's ticket stub.
  • Disguised as a homeless person, DB sits in a shopping centre around which subliminals showing generosity have been placed and is given £350 and a pair of shoes and socks by passers by.
  • DB shows six volunteers six versions of the subliminal film to find which elements are the most effective and their reactions are shown.
  • DB tells the viewer to sit safely and then explains how receptive people will be stuck to their seat. The film is shown.
  • Audience members are shown stuck to their seats and DB takes feedback from them and people phoning in.
  • Instructions are shown for viewers who are stuck to remain calm. For people who are stuck, a blue screen is shown and a 'clearing tone' is played so participants can all stand up again.

Event Three How to be a Psychic Spy: Friday 25 September 2009 (C4) TVWatch on 4OD

  • DB asks the viewers whether they could sense the image wrapped up in newspaper on an easel standing behind him. The wrapped picture has been on display for a week at teh National Science Museum and it was drawn and wrapped by one of the curators - Katie - who is therefore the only person to know what the image is. Viewers are told to get a pen and paper as they will be taking part in a nationwide remote viewing experiment.
  • DB explains that in the 1960s and 70s both America and Russia invested in research into psychic ability as part of national defence strategies. For the past week visitors to the Science Museum have been able to try sensing what the wrapped image is and drawing their ideas.
  • DB picks two volunteers - Kayleigh and Luke - and they are faced with a crate filled with bricks. They both have to try lifting the crate and guessing how many bricks it contains. Kayleigh tries lifting it and DB hovers his hand above the crate; she guesses that it contains thirty bricks. Kayleigh and Luke try lifting it together and are only able to move it a little; Luke guesses that it contains a larger number of bricks. DB explains he will remove half the bricks and clicks his fingers over the crate; they can lift the crate further. He clicks his fingers again and they can life the crate higher, another click and still higher. When they have lifted it face level, he tells them that on the count of three the bricks will return. He counts to three and they can no longer hold the crate up and drop it to the floor. DB shows the crate is empty and explains it was a piece of propaganda used by the French magician Robert Houdin 150 years ago to convince some Algerian Arabs that the French had superpowers - like being able to take away someone's strength.
  • DB tells the audience that in 1968 the Russian KGB leaked a piece of film footage to the CIA which suggested that they had harnessed the human mind and were able to use it as a weapon. This lead to a 'mental arms race' lasting twenty years. DB shows the footage of Nina Kulagina moving a compass needle with her psychic ability. Pausing the film, DB suggests that she may have magnets in her bra.
  • The audience have all been asked to bring a light bulb with them. DB picks a volunteer - Michael - to bring his light bulb to the stage and Michael initials the light bulb. DB lies the bulb on the table and it moves inexplicably without being touched. Michael then holds the light bulb and as DB talks it starts flickering brightly. DB takes it from his hands and puts it, lit, on the table. The bulb goes out and DB puts it in a clear plastic bag and seals it with a clip so nothing it touching it. As Michael concentrates on it, the bulb explodes.
  • DB shows the film of setting Katie up for creating the image. She is given black paint, told to go home and paint a simple design. The wrapped picture is placed in the museum and the security arrangements are explained. Moving back to the current time, DB explains Katie is blindfolded, in isolation at an undisclosed location so that her disorientation makes her more suggestible.
  • The camera focuses closely on Katie's now unblindfolded eyes, and she is told to project an mental image of what she has drawn. The audience and viewers are told to relax and to start drawing whatever comes to mind.
  • The audience submit their drawings to independent adjudicators who will sort through the images to identify frequently occuring images.
  • DB introduces the idea of sleeper assassins - people who could be controlled to commit crimes without being aware of it - and it leads into his next effect. DB wants to make a random member of the public act out of character, possibly even do something illegal. He sits in disguise in a cafe waiting for a suitable spec. When one arrives he starts to mirror them, copying their body movements, to get in sync with them. He tries this with several people. Once he is successfully mirroring them he tries to lead them so they are copying his actions. DB eventually find a suitable spec who he eventually leads to fall asleep. While asleep, DB gives him instructions, including telling him that 'the little red girl is your trigger' and leaves. Walking up Tottenham Court Road he sees a little girl and walks into an electronics shop, unplugs a television and walks out of the store with it.
  • DB explains the idea of remote viewing where a remote viewer can either see something out of sight or see through someone else's eyes. He shows a film of his meeting with a Dr Carr(?) a trainer in remote viewing who will carry out a controlled experiment. DB sends Lauren out in London to a location of her choice. When she is there she telephones DB to let him know the experiment can begin. She stands there while Dr Carr works on the process for seeing through her eyes which includes a step he calls 'blending'. After 90 minutes Lauren returns and Dr Carr summarises the impressions of place he has received. Her location is revealed and similarities can be drawn between it and Dr Carr's impressions; Lauren suggests a 55%-60% success rate. Back in the studio, DB approaches the footage more skeptically showing how the full 90 minutes give a much more ambiguous version of events.
  • DB looks at some of the drawings in the museum and finds some common images: horses, Stonehenge, circles, and trains. Viewers are invited to try drawing again.
  • DB explores the idea of remote viewing with Priscilla, a court illustrator. DB has thirty-one volunteers each with a sack over their head and one is chosen for Priscilla to describe. By answering 'Yes' or 'No' to a series of questions, people are eliminated; the chosen person remains throughout until they are the only one left. Priscilla is then asked to draw a picture of the person she imagined and when the sack is removed there are many similarities.
  • DB explains that the CIA tried remote viewing experiments with blind people to ensure there could be no cheating and because of the idea that the other senses are heightened when one is lost. DB introduces a film about Daniel Kish, a blind person who has developed a system of echolocation that blind people can use to 'see' in the same way that bats use sonar. Daniel successfully describes features of a tower block and the contours of a car; Daniel is then shown riding a bike sensing his location by making clicking noises with his mouth.
  • In the museum, 30%-35% of the drawings are shown to be concentric circles. The painting is duly unwrapped and shown to be a set of concentric circles. Katie says she was thinking about a target or a view of Stonehenge from above (which about 10% of people also drew).
  • DB tells the viewers that as the museum sequence had been recorded, he placed classified adverts in national papers on the day of broadcast telling them to draw concentric circles.
  • As an after thought, Katies is told to step out of her isolation booth, and she discovers that she is at Stonehenge.

Event Four How to beat a Casino: Friday 2 October 2009 (C4) TVWatch on 4OD

  • DB explains he is at a random location in Europe close to a casino where he will be betting £5,000 of a viewer's money on a single number at the roulette table. The gamble has odds of 37-1 but the payout is 35-1, so a successful gamble would win £175,000. The chosen viewer has already given DB the money, but they will not remember doing so: he will phone them in the course of the programme.
  • In the studio DB discusses the thrill of taking a gamble and picks Josie from the audience. She is given four cans of different coloured spray paint of which three do not spray: she will spray three and leave the working can. She picks the first (blue) and sprays it into DB's face, it does not work; she picks the second (green) and sprays it in an audience member's face, it does not work; she picks the third (red) and sprays it in her own face, it contains water as a joke. She then sprays the final can on a sheet of paper which DB then peels off showing it was a stencil predicting the order - blue, green, red - in which she will choose the cans.
  • DB meets Paul Wilson from The Real Hustle and they discuss the desire to beat a casino. PW shows DB a card swapping technique to cheat at Blackjack, and then goes on to explain how no system will work for roulette. However, he does talk about using physics to predict the ultimate location of the ball based on a computer using the timing of the ball and zero passing a fixed point on the table. DB says that this is what he wants to do mentally.
  • In the studio DB picks a ‘lucky' person - Richard - and someone who considers themselves unlucky - Maz. DB suggests there is no such thing as luck, only people creating their own ‘luck' by taking opportunities and chances. Richard and Maz are each given a matchbox, one empty and one containing £20: they will each have two chances to stick or switch. Richard goes first and sticks, Maz then sticks, Richard sticks, and finally Maz switches. They are then given ten seconds to leave them or to switch them. Maz opens her matchbox and it contains the £20 - she has apparently won. However, DB tells her to unfold the note and on it is written the final instruction to ‘Hand it to the other person'.
  • DB meets Timothy Westwood and a police officer - Mark - who has a laser speed detection gun. DB explains he will work out a car's speed by triangulating its position and a few other things. TW picks a car, DB predicts 50mph and the speed gun shows this to be correct. DB repeats the process but this time without looking claiming he will filter out the sounds of the cars. TW picks another car and is told to note the registration just telling DB the make. DB correctly identifies the speed as 49mph and says the car was registered in 1993/4 which matches the ‘L' registration letter.
  • DB phones the person, Ben, from whom he took £5,000 earlier in the week. Ben is met by a camera crew outside his house and taken to an outside broadcast truck where he is shown a film of him being met by DB in the street where DB executes a rapid induction, told to withdraw the money and then forget about the meeting.
  • DB explains the importance of following the ball's trajectory in the roulette wheel and he goes to a freestanding glass squash court in Manchester where he meets Carleigh. DB has divided the court's floor into a numbered grid and Carleigh has to throw the ball into the court. As she does so, DB makes a mark on a printed copy of the grid and the ball duly lands in box 37 matching DB's prediction.
  • DB is shown in the casino using a hidden camera. He places Ben's £5,000 on 8 as the ball spins in the wheel. The ball lands in number 30 - next to 8 on the wheel. DB apologises, back at the outside broadcast van one of the technicians tells Ben he will get his money back and the programme and series end.

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