Derren Brown: TV Series

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Series Seven: Derren Brown: Trick or Treat (Series 2) broadcast on C4 and E4 from May 2008

Programme One Quiz: Friday 2 May (C4) and Saturday 3 May (E4), 2008 TVWatch on 4OD

  • Victim: Glen, a 40 year old aviation insurance specialist from Essex.
  • DB takes control of a lift in which Glen is travelling: the lift stops and then descends to a basement where DB is waiting. Glen is offered the choice of two cards and selects 'Treat' although only the viewers are told.
  • DB meets Glen at the library of King's College, London and DB explains the treat is for Glen to be entered into the 'Night of the Champions' pub quiz as a one man team. In the week before the quiz Glen is going to learn 'everything'. DB shows Glen his capacity for memory by discussing Glen's regular walk to the station: Glen remembers seeing a woman in red standing by a cash machine. DB explains that above the cash machine there was a sign; Glen denies seeing the sign. DB makes Glen close his eyes and remember the journey, the word 'Shoe' comes inexplicably to Glen's mind. DB then shows him a film clip of the journey and the word 'Shoes' is displayed above the machine. This is to prove to Glen that he can remember more than he is aware.
  • DB then shows Glen his speed reading techniques and he is given a week to speed read a large range of books of facts and figures.
  • DB explains that part of the technique is related to a photographic memory and he demonstrates his skill with James Hoffman, a barrista champion. JH spread three large scoops of coffee beans over a tray. DB looks at the tray and then JH picks a bean and marks it. While the ink mark is drying DB mentally divides the tray into sections to create a series of mental photographs of the beans. JH is told to watch carefully so that DB does not "flick the bean off" because "that would be a first". JH then places his marked bean on the tray among the others. DB looks over the tray again, announces the number of beans on it and picks one bean out. The single bean is shown to be the one the JH marked.
  • DB meets Glen and picks a book that Glen has speed read: he asks Glen a question and tells him to imagine the answer is coming from the back of his mind. Glen is able to answer the question correctly and describes seeing an image which related to the answer. DB repeats this with another book and the answer is correct again.
  • The 'Night of the Champions' arrives and the quiz starts with Glen competing alone against teams of four to six. When the results are calculated Glen has come second thereby beating some of the capital's best pub quizzers.

Programme Two Kitten: Friday 9 May (C4) and Saturday 10 May (E4), 2008 TVWatch on 4OD

  • Victim: Lauren, a 19 year old student.
  • As a participant Lauren is invited to a 'standard' psychological profiling session. During the interview Lauren is left alone and eventually a wall disappears to reveal DB. Lauren is offered the choice of two cards and as a result of her choice she is led through one of two doors.
  • DB explains that negative suggestion is introduced at a young age with rules and warnings. To demonstrate this DB leaves a box in a primary school classroom with two "midgety things" (or children) at a time. The children are told to guard the box which contains a surprise and not to open it or look inside it. Various children are shown succumbing to temptation and opening the box and a variety of their excuses are heard.
  • DB then demonstrates this childlike "naughty urge" by showing a section of hoarding with a large sign reading "Do not look through this hole" above a hole. Members of the public are shown walking up to and looking through the hole. DB then goes behind the hoarding and as someone approaches the hole DB approaches from the other side. As the member of the public looks through the hole they collapse on the floor and wake up a few moments later.
  • Lauren is shown around a room: DB shows her the power supply and a button connected to a box, labelled 0001, containing a young kitten. DB explains that the box is electrified and if the button is pressed the kitten will be electrocuted. Lauren's job is to try "not to kill the kitten" and she is offered 500 if she is able to accomplish her task.
  • DB visits Zippo's Circus and meets Henry, a high wire walker who holds the record for the greatest number of skips in a minute on a high wire. After seeing him skip on the high wire DB tells him to do it again and this time focus on "not wobbling and not falling off". DB inflates an air bag under the high wire and Henry climbs to the high wire and starts skipping again. After a few moments the negative suggestion appears to cause Henry to fall as he lands on the air bag.
  • DB offers Lauren a cup of tea, and explains to the viewer that he is going to regress her back to a more susceptible time. He gives her a glass of orange squash. [4 minute subtitle] He then asks her to draw something and she draws a picture of a cat. DB then questions her about a toy she was told to bring for the psychological test and he uses the memory of the toy to take her back to a memory of a time when she was mischievous; she describes the memory. [3 minute subtitle] DB asks her to draw another picture and she draws a more childish image and DB talks to her about the picture in a patronising tone of voice. DB gives her a two minute warning and starts a timer counting down. He leaves her in the room with a reminder not to press the button.
  • As the timer counts down Lauren is clearly getting more distressed about her decision and at 00:01 she presses the button. The lights go out and a siren sounds. DB re-enters and tells Lauren that she has not killed the kitten and explains that Lauren's treat is that in future if she is feeling negative she will remember the experience which will put her in a positive frame of mind. Having not killed the kitten Lauren wins the 500 and she is shown enjoying a surfing holiday.

Programme Three Time: Friday 16 May (C4) and Saturday 17 May (E4), 2008 TVWatch on 4OD

  • Victim: David, a 37 year old actor from Scotland, now living in London, widely known as a Time Lord; viewers will recognise David Tennant.
  • DT is shown on location in his make up caravan when the lights go off and DB appears. DT picks a card and it is reavealed to the viewers as a 'Treat'.
  • DB meets DT at a country house in Hertfordshire where he is going to show DT how to travel through time and space without any "Tardies". DB gives DT a padded bag to hold and then hypnotises him. DT is told to imagine being in a hotel corridor with rooms on either side of him. DB tells him that the corridor pulls him back in time and the years are going backwards, but he stops outside a door labelled September 29, 1938 which he walks through into a specific place. DT describes the scene and emotions associated with what he can see. DB tells him to go back out of the door and this time move forwards to the present day where he wakes up. The padded bag contains a copy of a newspaper from September 30, 1938 and a marked article contains some of the details DT described. DT reflects that for a scientific explanation, he is happy to accept that "Derren in a witch".
  • Back in London, DB explains that DT is going to project himself into the future by pretending to read someone's mind: he is going to go into the street and ask a member of the public to draw a picture which he will previously have mindread by picturing the moment in the future at which the drawing is turned round and revealed. DT is hypnotised again and told to draw a picture out of anyone's sight, to fold it up and place it in his pocket. DB and DT go out into the street to find a volunteer.
  • DT picks a passerby, Clare, and DB then makes Clare and DT face each other. DB tells Clare to draw the picture. When she has finished DB tells her to scream the image mentally to DT. DT says the image he is receiving is a cat, Clare's picture is revealed and it is a cat. DT then shows his picture and it is a very similar image of a cat.
  • A subtitle gives the date is given as 13 January 2008. DB wants DT to predict a future event which will feature in the next day's paper. To do this DB wants DT to use automatic writing and in order for this to be successful DT needs to be as relaxed as possible, so to achieve this (and to have the opportunity to see "David in a tight fitting wet suit") DT relaxes in a floatation tank. In an altered state DB dictates a paragraph to DT which states that he is going to predict an event in three days' time. DT is then told to focus on a spot in the air in front of him and, when told, to start writing. DT writes while staring ahead of him and talking about unconnected memories with DB. The sheet of writing is then folded up and placed in two envelopes. They arrange to meet in four days' time.
  • On January 17, DT buys a copy of the Guardian and meets DB. They open the envelope and try to decipher some of DT's automatic writing: various words and phrases are read and copied to a larger sheet. The words are shown to relate to a story about Scrabble in the copy of the Guardian dated January 17.

Programme Four Escape: Friday 23 May (C4) and Saturday 24 May (E4), 2008 TVWatch on 4OD

  • Victim: Angela, a 22 year old Administrator from London
  • Angela's office is plunged into darkness and DB appears and offers her the choice of cards; it is revealed to the viewers as a 'Trick'.
  • DB explains he is going to teach Angela some esoteric nineteenth century skills. DB gives her a set of what he calls child's manacles with a ring for attaching them to a fixed object, it is a puzzle and Angela has to perform the seemingly impossible task of removing the ring; after she attempts to do it DB shows it can be done. DB explains that there is a set of secret knowledge used by mediums in the nineteenth century which allowed them to slip out of restraints and it is this knowledge that he is going to teach Angela.
  • The next thing that DB teaches Angela is a yogic technique - pranayama - which helps her self-control, in particular extending the length of time she can hold her breath. Before the training she holds her breath for 32 seconds. Angela gets into a tank of cold water, and he talks to her; she submerges herself and now manages to hold her breath for 1'19".
  • DB puts Angela into a sack and secures the top of the sack with a chain and padlock. The key to the padlock is on a ribbon and this is passed through to Angela inside the sack. She has to work out how to get the key from the inside to the padlock on the outside to enable her to escape. After 20 minutes she works out that the key can be passed out through the tiny hole in the top of the sack and then held through the material to enable the key to be used in the padlock. She duly frees herself.
  • Angela is taken to a physical training session where she is given an assessment on various assault course style exercises. The instructor is surprised and pleased by her agility, stamina and ability.
  • DB hypnotises Angela. He then ties two napkins together tightly and Angela unpicks the knot. DB ties the napkins together again and puts the knotted napkins on the table. Angela puts her let hand over the knot and then pulls one napkin away and it the knot appears to have undone under her hand.
  • Two months after all the training Angela is 'kidnapped' at 4.30am from her bed. She is given a wetsuit and a boiler suit to wear, her wrists are tied with police issue cable ties, she is blindfolded and her ankles are bound with gaffer tape. She is driven in the back of a van to meet DB on the side of a lake. With her wrists and ankles she is put in a sack. DB counts from three to zero, and on zero Angela is pushed into the lake. A short time later Angela resurfaces having escaped from the sack and her restraints.

Programme Five Confidence: Friday 30 May (C4) and Saturday 31 May (E4), 2008 TVWatch on 4OD

  • Victim: Jason, a 23 year old Computer Technician living in London
  • After a dentist's appointment DB ambushes Jason and her offers him the choice of cards; it is revealed to the viewers as a 'Treat'.
  • DB meets Jason who explains he lacks self-confidence and that he has been single for over five years. To start Jason's treat DB takes him to a bar in Central London for a speed dating event. DB observes and comments that Jason's body language is defeatist and negative: he makes little attempt to smile, his arms are folded, and he does not make eye contact with the women. It is generally seen as an unsuccessful event.
  • Jason and DB meet again, and DB instructs Jason to remove the bulb from a light on the table. Jason then follows instructions to wrap the bulb in a napkin and hit it with a hammer. The bulb breaks and DB tells Jason to eat a piece of the glass. Jason puts a piece of the glass in his mouth and eats it with DB's encouragement.
  • To continue building Jason's confidence DB wants to build rapport between him and a stranger (Darren) who has performed a courageous act. To do this Jason and Darren face each other and they have to mirror each other's actions. DB explains this is to synchronise subconsciously as well as physically. At the end of the mirroring while Darren is remembering his courageous action Jason describes his memory and Darren's feelings.
  • DB hypnotises Jason to reframe his thinking.
  • Jason attends another speed dating event and DB explains to the viewers how Jason's behaviour has changed. Brief interviews with the women show a very favourable response and Jason has also enjoyed the experience. Following the event Jason arranges to meet one of the woman for a real date.
  • A month later while standing outside a restaurant Jason sees a man steal a woman's handbag; Jason chases the thief and catches him but cannot get the bag. The thief takes the bag into a building and Jason follows. Jason is challenged to pick the bag up and take it when the thief reaches an unsalubrious room with a group of people sitting in the corner. As Jason touches the bag the room is flooded with light and his friends and family all appear to celebrate his transformation.

Programme Six Series Finale: Friday 6 June (C4) and Saturday 7 June (E4), 2008 TVWatch on 4OD

  • All of the participants in the series meet to celebrate the end of the series, but DB explains they are to participate in a "sociological experiment designed to unlock the irrational mindset behind superstitious thinking".
  • They are told they have to earn 100 points within 30 minutes to open the door and win the named bundles of 500 appear outside the door. The room contains a variety of objects. The participants start moving things around and a display shows their points increasing.
  • DB explains that the experiment is based on B F Skinner's experiments into behaviour in the 1960s. He shows footage of Skinner's experiment with pigeons in which they are rewarded with food during the course of the experiment. The pigeons believed that the food was delivered in response to them repeating certain actions when the food was, in fact, delivered at random. This led to the pigeons simply repeating behaviour for no purpose. Skinner explained this as has superstition works where humans make false connections between cause and effect. DB explains the the participants' score is increasing a result of a pair of goldfish's movements in a tank.
  • DB discusses superstition with Joey, an applicant for the programme, and during their conversation at DB's instruction she does several superstitious things (walking under ladders, breaking a mirror, opening an umbrella inside, etc.). At their destination they play a game in which she is blindfolded and has to throw a dart at a deck of cards which have been arranged on the wall; if she wins she gets a bottle of champagne. She names a card (QH) and throws the dart. It lands in the QH and she wins the champagne. On the bottle there is a note which tells her she has won 50 if she got the dart in the circle. She removes the QH and it is the only card with writing on the back: there is a circle and the dart has landed in the circle.
  • Return to the participants who are still trying to work out, unsuccessfully, what is causing their score to increase.
  • The participants are shown again now 15 minutes into the experiment. DB shows that after 5 minutes of the experiment he revealed another sign on the roof telling them that the doors were unlocked and they could walk out and collect 150,000. They, however, are still to intent on trying to work out how to increase their score to see the sign.
  • DB talks about the mathematical odds of the National Lottery and meets six Lottery players. Each player takes a ball and they each write a number between 1 and 49 on their ball; they then have to arrange themselves into numeric order without letting DB see the numbers. DB writes each number on an envelope and gives it to each person; his number is revealed to match the number they chose. DB then points out their order was dictated by the numbers they chose. Each person has been standing on a card and they look at the cards and they are shown to have a name written on them; these predictions of where they would be standing are shown to be correct. They each then open their ball and one person's contains a four leaf clover. They then all open their envelopes and the one with the lucky clover is shown to contain a card saying 'Win'. The win envelope also contains a lottery ticket for the forthcoming drawer and the numbers DB has chosen match the numbers that each player has selected individually.
  • Back to the participants. They achieve 100 points and, with the exception of David Tennant, they believe they have found a system as they forget the times they were not awarded points and only remember the occasions on which points were won and they try to match this with vague recollections of their actions thereby establishing cause and effect in their minds. They each win 500 oblivious to the 150,000 that was available.
  • The viewers are shown a screen dedicating the programme to the memory of Joey Russell who apparently lost her life on the way home from filming. As the titles start, a voice over kindly points out that Joey is fine.

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