Derren Brown: TV Specials

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DERREN BROWN: Apocalypse part 1 broadcast on C4 26 October, 2012; part 2 broadcast on 2 November, 2012

Programme One broadcast on 26 October, 2012 (C4) TVWatch Part 1 on 4OD

  • DB introduces the show by asking the viewers if they have any regrets in their lives and whether they would like the opportunity to change them. The opening quotation from Epictetus, "He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has" sets the tone for the programme.
  • A selection procedure to find someone who is self-centered and takes life forgranted and therefore needs to recognise the value of life has identified the programme's focus as Stephen, a 21 year old who still lives at home and describes himself as "lazy" and "irresponsible".
  • The production team use hidden cameras around Stephen's home to observe his life and interview his family and friends to show his selfish lifestyle, and DB looks round his bedroom and uses items there to give a seemingly more intimate view of Stephen's life.
  • DB introduces the idea of how the apocalypse will be created by building on the idea of the annual Perseids meteor shower but in this instance the meteors will reach the Earth.
  • Stephen's mobile phone is stolen for DB and hacked to enable the production team to be able to control the information that it receives in terms of news reports.
  • Details about the Perseids are developed further, and a television interview is broadcast specifically to Stephen in which the collision is explained along with the fact that the meteors contains a bacteria and/or virus. Evidence about the shower interfering with electronics on Earth is also given and Stephen sees this week his van does not start (although this is really down to his Dad removing the fuse from the starter motor)
  • Stephen is taken to a concert for his birthday, but part of the trip is on a coach which is part of the setup: the coach breaks down and a radio broadcast gives details about the imminent collision of the meteors and that there is a Level 3 Emergency Status. Explosions occur around the bus, and in the scene of general chaos on the coach, DB hypnotises Stephen. In an allusion to the Wizard of Oz, the viewer learns that the experience will give Stephen courage, a heart and a brain.
  • While hypnotised, Stephen is led to what appears to be some sort of medical centre, and when he has been put in a hospital bed he is left until the lights come on and he wakes up.
  • On waking up, Stephen is obviously confused and starts exploring: a repeating news broadcast tells him that it is 14 days after the strike. He sees another figure in the centre an finds Leona, a scared 14 year old; from her he learns about the colour coded wrist bands where red marks the wearer as infected and blue shows them to be clear.
  • Leona tells her story to Stephen to encourage him to take responsibility for her, asking whether he has seen her mum. Stephen does take the lead and tells her to follow him.
  • As they move around the facility they find themselves trapped in a large warehouse with assorted debris and red tags. They see zombies outside and panic, eventually finding a way out when they see an ambulance
  • Ian is the ambulance driver and paramedic from whom Stephen learns that England's borders are being closed in two days' time and there is a simple choice of escaping to Wales or Scotland; Ian's plan is to escape to scotland.
  • Ian also introduces the message wall to Stephen on which messages to and from family members who have passed through the facility have been left. Stephen duly finds a message from his family who have headed to Wales, and Stephen knows that this is where he will have to go.

Programme One broadcast on 2 November, 2012 (C4) TVWatch Part 2 on 4OD

  • Picking up where the first programme finished, Ian tells Stephen that there is a short wave radio outside the compound and Stephen volunteers to try and reach it. He manages to get in where he finds Danny - a character created to reflect the selfish aspects of Stephen's personaility
  • Stephen wants to help Danny, whereas Ian wants to leave him. On leaving the radio hut, the ambulance is apparently broken: Ian breaks down giving Stephen the opportunity to take the lead
  • stephen radios for help, and Ian leaves a personal video diary message for his missing wife.
  • In an incoming radio message, Stephen learns of his family's safety and is told that a helicopter will come to collect them at 16:00.
  • As they wait for the helicopter to arrive, a woman turns up at the compound who turns out to be Ian's wife, but she is wearing a red wristband. Ian chooses to leave with her, and Stephen takes control
  • Leona leaves a video diary message in which she says that she has only got this far because of Stephen's help.
  • The helicopter is delayed, and then as it appears a klaxon sounds an zombies appear all over the site. The helicopter duly has to land outside the compound.
  • The idea is planted for the zombies to be distracted while they run for the helicopter: Stephen distracts the zombies and Danny makes it to the helicopter but Leona is too scared to do it and returns to the compound. Stephen reaches the helicopter, chastises Danny and returns to be with Leona as the helicopter leaves.
  • Stephen leaves a video diary message in which he talks about his love for his family and the thanks he owes them
  • Stephen and Leona leave the compound on foot, and as they exit the main gate Stephen hears a mobile phone ring in the undergrowth. He picks it up and apparently falls asleep.
  • Stephen wakes up at home, sees his family and gives them all hugs; he then sees DB who explains that Stephen has become "the best possible you".
  • Stephen gets his real birthday party with family and friends and all the actors from his experience.
  • DB returns to chat to stephen 28 days later, and Stephen describes himself as being more confident and wanting to do something with his life.

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