Recently (April 2004) I saw this man live, I had always been intrigued by him when I had seen him on television, and am now truly creeped out by him. Although some of his techniques are obvious but it doesn’t matter, what matters is they work. He doesn’t claim to have any special powers or to be mystic in some way; he just claims to be able to control how people think, which is, as far as I can tell, a very useful ability.

Derren Brown is a very talented man, his own words best sum up what he does:

“I began my career as a magician but slowly left behind the props and sleight-of-hand to work with the psychological techniques that are the real stuff of magic. I have to learn people's patterns, step inside their heads. Then I can play.”

Born in 1971 in Croydon, England Derren was always a very good liar, and so it was only natural for him to study law at University. He attended Bristol University, and it was here that he became interested in magic. Being a student and terminally short of cash he started performing to small audiences in pubs and bars. His analytical mind, honed by studying law allowed him to spot flaws in ideas very quickly, this made his act fairly successful. In his studies he used his skills to aid him in his studies, he could break down his revision into a short story about a trip to a department store. He was also very good at spotting patterns; this allowed him to guess what was likely to come up on the exam papers and cut down his studies accordingly, this left him time to perfect his abilities in the field of mind control.

Derren decided that a career in law was not for him and devoted himself to magic and mind control after graduating. In 1999 he was asked to put together a television show, which, after it was broadcast for the first time in December 2000 has been repeated several times and two more have also been made. There is now a series on Channel Four in which he shows off his abilities. It’s about half new stuff, and the next one is going to be all-new. At some point, reportedly in October Derren will engage in a live (when it begins at least) game of Russian Roulette with a member of the public. He has this to say on the subject “I hope it goes well.”

Seen live, Derren is unnerving, he darts around, speaks quickly and makes eye contact constantly, when he stares at you it is very much like sticking your finger in a plug, it’s really spooky. I won’t say what happens in the show because he said not to and I’m not one to disobey such a scary person. But it was very interesting. The one thing I will say though is that he does use a Ouija board in his act, he doesn’t claim it has any mystical properties, and is merely a prop, but it does seem to offend some people.

Derren is touring England from the 21st of March, a full list can be found at, he is well worth going to see, and often goes for a drink in the bar afterwards if you want a chat.

He owns a parrot named Figaro.


Derren has just (October 2003) succeeded in not shooting himself in the head. He played Russian Roulette, live on channel 4. There are allegations that he used a blank bullet, but, as he demonstrated in the show, this would have still killed him.