Derren Brown: TV Series

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Series Four: Derren Brown Trick of the Mind - Series 3 broadcast on C4 and E4 from March 2006

Programme One: Sunday 26 March (C4) and Thursday 30 March (E4), 2006 TVWatch on 4OD

  • DB appears as a clown and stops a member of public in the street; he then, to her surprise, describes her bedroom in great detail before dismissing her
  • DB enters a room where Matt Lucas is waiting for him, he immediately puts ML into a hypnotic state and then brings him "back in the room". He asks ML to guess a card he picks from the deck, it is wrong. ML then mixes the deck of cards face down and picks three at random, still face down. DB picks up the cards, and starts chatting to ML about unrelated subjects, three times he unexpectedly asks what card is it and ML unconsciously names the 6C, 4C and JD; the three face down cards are revealed as the JH, 4C and 6C. DB then opens an envelope he has in his wallet in which he predicted the cards that ML would select and they are revealed to be JD, 4C and 6C. ML is left looking confused asking "what madness is this?"
  • In the Valley of Fire in Nevada DB meets a volunteer and establishes the time is 4pm. DB asks the volunteer whether he believes he could make the sun disappear, the volunteer says he could. DB explains that he is going to use an Native American Indian trick and sits the volunteer down on the ground. DB draws a circle in the dirt and then scrubs it out, he repeats this and then asks the volunteer to draw a circle. As the volunteer leans forward to scrub out his circle DB hypnotises him and he falls asleep; DB leaves him lying on the ground, and as time passes the sun is shown to be setting. At 8.05pm DB sits the volunteer up, and adjusts the time on his watch to 4.05pm and then wakes him up to continue scrubbing out the circle he drew. The volunteer is unaware of the passage of time and believes the sun has disappeared; he admits that he didn't really think DB could make the sun disppear and is left in a shocked state.
  • DB appears as the clown again and sits down at a table outside a bar opposite a member of the public; DB then describes an event from the man's childhood before leaving the table
  • A group of five volunteers in London are told to draw round their hand, write the date and time of their birth, and put these in a numbered envelope with a personal effect; the envelopes are then mixed up before being given to DB; an identical set up is shown to have happened in Los Angeles and Milan too. DB then takes the envelopes and leaves to write a detailed report of the people's personalities based on the information he has been given. He returns with the reports and hands them out telling the volunteers to keep them private. Individual responses are shown and the volunteers are overwhelmed with the accuracy of the report. DB then assembles the volunteers to get them to swap reports to see if they can identify whose report is whose. When they are swapped, they all seem to have their report back, this is repeated and they realise that all of the reports are the same. The volunteers are all amazed that the report they believed to be so personalised can be so readily applied to everyone else; DB explains this is 'cold reading', as used for many years by mediums and psychics.

Programme Two: Sunday 2 April (C4) and Thursday 6 April (E4), 2006 TVWatch on 4OD

  • DB describes a nineteenth psychic test in which psychics intuited the details of a postcard in a sealed envelope; he tries this with a non-psychic member of the public who describes the image on the postcard after a little prompting from DB
  • DB meets Kelly Holmes at a running track and shows her a pile of cards with the number 1 on the back, and the names of cities in which she has run on the other side; she picks one at random and it is placed in an envelope. DB then draws an abstract picture and KH names a city in which she has run; she says Sydney. DB takes a second deck, numbered 2 on the back, with different race types on the front; again KH picks one at random and it is put in the envelope. DB then asks KH to imagine running on the Sydney track, and then to tell him the distance she was running in her imagination; she says 200m. A third deck is produced, numbered 3 on the back, with names of other runners on the front, she picks a card which is also put in the envelope. KH is then asked to walk the round way around the track thinking of a different runner with every step. When she feels happy with her choice she has to run the rest of the track and imagine that runner winning. On completing the circuit she opens the envelope and the first cards read Sydney and 200m respectively; KH then reveals the name of the athlete she chose while walking, Haile Gebrselassie, the third card is turned over the reveal the same name.
  • Another member of the public successfully identifies the country and two words from the message on a postcard sealed in an envelope.
  • DB introduces the subject of dreams and the possibility of controlling a dream's subject; a volunteer is blindfolded and driven (during which a specific piece of music is playing on the radio) to a marquee in a garden. After changing for bed he is shown a short video made up of seemingly random still shots accompanied by the same music playing on the radio; he is then left to fall asleep. DB watches him on a monitor and waits for him to enter the REM state of sleep at which point DB enters the room and whistles the same tune again, DB leaves the room after displaying a list of words above the still sleeping volunteer's head. DB re-enters the room and wakes the volunteer up and asks about his dream. He describes a series of items, all of which have been predicted by DB on the board above his head. DB leaves him to go back to sleep, and when he is soundly asleep, panels in the room are opened to show a scene similar to that described by the volunteer; DB wakes him up again, and the volunteer rouses and slowly gets out of bed and walks into the surreal environment he had dreamt. DB then tells him to go back to bed and when he is asleep again the room is returned to normal. When the volunteer has woken up naturally. he tries to recount his experience, but cannot explain why his feet and, therefore the bedsheets, and now covered in mud.
  • Music Information'Galop Infernal' ("The Can Can")
    from Orpheus in the Underworld

    Jacques Offenbach
    Buy Song

Programme Three: Sunday 9 April (C4) and Thursday 13 April (E4), 2006 TVWatch on 4OD

  • DB plays noughts and crosses (tic tac toe) against passers by in a demonstration of "classic Victorian mentalism": DB is blindfolded but has the advantage of going first, if he loses he will pay the winner 50. He dutifully wins three games having identified where his opponent has placed all their symbols during the games.
  • DB talks about the Victorian practice of studying physiognomy to identify criminals, and introduces a model talent spotter, Fraser, who is shown a set of thirteen photographs of Victorians; each photograph has a fact about its subject printed on the back. Fraser is able to identify a concert pianist correctly from the thirteen using his natural intuition, he then correctly describes an achievements of another subject even though he does not believe he knows anything about the subject. Fraser is then told that out of the thirteen photographs one was a convicted criminal, and the other twelve were the jury that sat on his case. Out of the remaining eleven he successfully identifies another two members of the jury, followed by another three. From the remaining six he picks the one he believes to be the criminal, the other five are identified as the remainder of the jury, but before the criminal is revealed Fraser is asked to name the crime for which the criminal was imprisoned. The criminal is shown to be a fraudster, matching Fraser's prediction.
  • Back to the noughts and crosses, but before DB plays a game a member of the public is asked to fill a grid in a notebook with noughts and crosses at random so that the game is a draw. DB then plays, still blindfolded, against another passer by and the game is drawn. The game is shown to have matched the random grid drawn previously in the notebook.
  • DB introduces the idea of dowsing, but claims it only works through suggestion. He meets a volunteer in the Nevada desert who is given a pair of dowsing rods; as he walks towards a bottle of water in the sand the dowsing rods cross supposendly indicating the presence of water. DB describes a black canister that the volunteer saw and signed earlier and says that it contains water, but it has now been buried in the desert. The volunteer is then given the dowsing rods again and told to find the canister through dowsing. While the volunteer is dowsing, DB asks his seemingly random questions to which he answers that he sees his grandfather acting as a guide to him, the experience is like the colour blue to him, and the canister would make the sound of wind and water. As the rods begin to cross the volunteer identifies the spot to dig, and he duly finds the canister. On opening it he discovers it does not contain water, but a note explaining his dowsing process has had nothing to do with water or energy. The note continues, as a prediction by DB, that he would have made the volunteer think of his grandfather, the feeling of blue, and the sounds of wind and water.
  • DB meets a group of individuals to see if he can communicate an image to them subconsciously. After a moment of relaxation they are told to draw the image they saw in the back of their mind. Their pictures are displayed and all but two people have drawn a very similar drooping flower, which is shown to match an image DB has sealed in his pocket. In a debrief afterwards DB suggests that the people who got the flower are the sort of people who would use subliminal tapes and CDs, and it transpires that the group of people had previously all used the same subliminal CD to aid sleeping. DB explains to the viewers that the CD, Dreamscapes, had been prepared by him a year previously and sent out to people who had responded to an advert; they had also been sent a questionnaire to help DB identify the more suggestible participants. The most promising were invited to a venue called 'Dreamspace' for this experiment along with one person who had returned the CD and one who had not felt any benefit from the CD: these were the two people who had not drawn the flowers. None of the participants had been aware that there was any connection between the CD and the invitation to come to the venue.

Programme Four: Sunday 16 April (C4) and Thursday 20 April (E4), 2006 TVWatch on 4OD

  • While standing in a street holding a map and looking lost, DB stops a passer-by and asks them for directions, while they are talking a large portrait of DB is carried between them, and when the portrait passes DB has been replaced by another person, but the passer-by does not notice.
  • DB introduces two participants: Basil, a native Arabic speaker, and Susan, a native Hungarian speaker - neither speak each other's languages. Susan draws a picture and describes it, in Hungarian, to Basil who, despite not understanding her, is able to draw a picture of the same object having received an image in his mind. His written title includes a colour, which is not dissimilar to the "unusual" colour Susan would have given her object when questioned.
  • Repeat of the portrait trick with another passer-by, despite the replacement looking even less like DB they still do not notice.
  • DB describes a treasure hunt in 1883 when an Italian magician and alchemist called Alessandro Donnini asked Count Giovanni Francesco to hide a necklace in the San Marco in Venice, and Donnini's task was to find it. Donnini used a technique called muscle reading and held Francesco's wrist to detect unconscious signals as they walked around Venice; he apparently found the necklace in just over an hour and a half [NB. this story and Donnini appear to be apocryphal, although Count Giovanni was alive around that time]. DB plans to repeat this experiment and dispatches Francesco da Mosto to hide a secret object somewhere in the San Marco district. FdM returns an hour later and a crowd has gathered to watch the treasure hunt. DB demonstrates the principal of muscle reading by asking FdM to give a pencil to a member of the crowd, and then while FdM holds DB's wrist, FdM thinks of the directions DB has to move to find the pencil, and the pencil is duly found. FdM takes DB's wrist again, DB decides the direction to head in, and they and the crowd set off walking through the streets.
  • Repeat of the portrait trick, showing how it was executed, and again the passer-by fails to realise the switch.
  • conclusion of the muscle reading experiment with DB locating the object concealed in a statue after a little over two hours much to the delight of FdM and the crowd.
  • Repeat of the portrait trick, and despite DB being switched for a black man, the passer-by still fails to notice.
  • DB meets Robbie Williams and they briefly discussing tattoos and the pain/pleasure principle. RW rolls his sleeves up and, while standing, puts his arms into two stirrups to hold them out in the shape of a crucifix. DB then hypnotises RW and then to give him something to focus on DB asks him to recite 'Three Blind Mice'. DB then wipes RW's exposed forearms with a pad, and once RW starts singing 'Three Blind Mice', DB starts to insert a 14" needle through the skin of his forearm; he repeats this with the other arm. RW then opens his eyes and sees the two needles, and starts feeling "queasy". DB removes one needle, but as he starts to remove the other needle, blood appears on RW's arm and he tenses up, DB tells him to close his eyes and relax by reciting the nursery rhyme again, as he removes the second needle completely and wipes his forearms off again.

Programme Five: Sunday 23 April (C4) and Thursday 27 April (E4), 2006 TVWatch on 4OD

  • A passer-by plays a guessing game with DB in which they have to guess what is in a small wooden box; the player is allowed to sniff the box, and to ask three questions requiring a 'yes' or 'no' answer while holding it. After asking three random questions, the player identifies the contents as a stone and opens the box to confirm this. When the player picks up the stone he starts behaving a little oddly, feeling "weird", and trembling; the feeling appears to pass when he drops the stone back into the box.
  • DB plays a "well written and deftly performed joke" on Stephen Marchant, by establishing that SM could not know the word DB has written on a card, DB asks: "Do you know, right now, what the word is on the card?", SM answers "No.", DB turns the card over to reveal the word 'No'. This is the introduction to the main effect in which DB has two cards labelled 'Yes' and 'No' respectively, and SM has four chances to guess which card DB has selected and put face down on the table; if he gets any of the four right he will have won the game. DB uses confusing language and gets SM to talk through his thought process during the game, and SM duly gets the first two wrong. DB then offers a 20 bet on the third guess, but SM gets it wrong again. DB puts the final card and another 980 on the table, and then swaps his card. SM makes his final choice and gets it wrong again.
  • DB describes the claims of James Vicary in 1957 that he used subliminal advertising in a cinema in New Jersey to increase sales of Coke and popcorn, and DB creates his own subliminal advertisement to be shown at the start of a film to see whether he can cause the cinema goers to forget the film they have gone to see.
  • another passer-by plays the guessing game to try and work out the contents of the box, she also gets it right and reacts strangely when she holds the stone too, but is unable to put the stone down; DB forces the stone from her hand and shuts it in the box and her behaviour returns to normal.
  • conclusion of the subliminal advertising effect in which the majority of people interviewed after the film are unable to recall anything about it
  • DB meets Mathis Barz, the architect behind the renovation of the the Giant Ferris Wheel in Vienna immortalised in Orson Welles's film 'The Third Man', at the wheel for a time-based effect. DB borrows MB's watch and sets it to a different time and then alters it repeatedly without looking at the face, the watch is returned to MB and put in a black bag. DB tells MB to think of the time at which his daughter was born, but not to tell anyone the time, and then imagine the time displayed on an analogue clock face. With the watch inside the bag, MB is told to continue turning the crown to change the time as feels right to him while he is riding on the Ferris wheel. DB then speaks to MB via a video link from another cabin, and removes his own watch and alters the time in a similar way. MB is told to say when he has finished adjusting the watch to his satisfaction, and at this point the wheel is also stopped. DB shows his watch displaying 11:11 and MB says his daughter was born around ten past eleven. MB's watch is taken out of the bag and it is shown to be set to just after 11:15, and then the camera zooms out from a close up of MB's cabin to show the entire wheel from the ground, and their two lit cabins are at what would be 11 and 2 on a clock face - 11:10 again.
  • Music Information'Theme'
    from The Third Man

    Anton Karas
    Buy Song

Programme Six: Sunday 30 April (C4) and Thursday 4 May (E4), 2006 TVWatch on 4OD

  • DB takes a passer-by's watch and sets it to a new time and returns it to the passer-by's wrist without them seeing it. DB describes the clock face, and the player thinks of a time: this is shown to match the new time on his watch.
  • DB meets John Pickup, an amputee, who has a prosthetic right arm and starts discussing phantom limb pain. DB draws round JP's prosthetic hand and then JP takes the arm off; JP is told to imagine that the drawn outline of his hand is as sensitive as it was before the amputation. DB then touches one of the drawn fingers and without looking JP is able to tell him which finger was touched. DB then places a candle on the outline and JP is able to describe its texture, shape, but names it as a shoe horn. DB then places a teacup on the outline, and JP describes the material and then describes it as a teacup.
  • DB meets Meera Syal at Wellington Arch (until 1992 the second smallest police station in London [info]) and starts talking about séances losing their popularity when infra-red cameras became available and the mediums' secrets were revealed. DB demonstrates an effect using a spirit ring exploiting the darkness of a séance: the sitter (MS) and the medium (DB) hold hands, and the spirit ring appears on MS's right arm; DB removes the ring and MS puts her right hand on her head, and the ring appears on her arm again; MS puts her left hand on her hip and the ring appears to have moved from her neck to her left arm. DB then uses an infra-red recording of the effect to show the viewer how the effect was achieved.
  • another example of the time transmitting effect from the start of the programme with another passer-by
  • In Monaco DB demonstrates how a marked deck of cards can be detected by a riffle test flicking through the cards like a picture book. He then describes and demonstrates his ability to detect which card has been removed from a shuffled deck of cards merely by riffling through them. The deck is shuffled and DB riffles through them twice to memorise them, and is then able to name two series of cards from the deck correctly. DB then refers to Dai Vernon, and wants to try one of his effects: the spectator names her favourite playing card (JH) and DB shoots the entire deck of cards into the harbour and all of the cards are left floating face down in the water, with the exception of the JH which floats face upwards.
  • (over titles) final example of the time transmitting effect and, concluding the series, DB is shown to have failed as the passer-by names the completely wrong time.

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