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Derren Brown: The Specials

Derren Brown: The SpecialsDerren Brown can read people like
  a book and takes his unique fusion
  of magic, suggestion, psychology,
  misdirection and showmanship to new
  heights with a collection of his best
  one-off shows — Derren Brown: The
  Specials
...”

CONTROVERSIAL HE MAY BE, but award-winning psychological illusionist Derren Brown demonstrates great showmanship and a natural, professional talent that could make you believe he was gifted with some sort of supernatural ability.

Pushing out the boundaries of magic in the DVD Derren Brown: The Specials box set that features four of his best-known shows to date — Russian Roulette Live, The Heist, Séance and The System — you can see why Darren is considered to be one of the country's most exciting live performers.

Russian Roulette Live provides one of the most dangerous challenges to Derren. It is filmed in a barn at a secret location, where a member of the public chosen from the 12,000 who applied during a nationwide search, loads a real handgun with one bullet and gives it to Derren. Derren warns of the dangers and assures his audience that if he is not one hundred per cent certain the chamber is empty, he will not pull the trigger. His build-up to Russian Roulette includes picking the correct cup under which somebody has placed an object.

Using his famous ability to read people, Derren determines the chamber that contains the bullet by putting the gun to his head and pulling the trigger until he comes to the live chamber — so what powers does he use to dodge the bullet? Are his mind control techniques sharp enough for him to detect the deadly chamber?

The Heist is more complicated in that it uses a street in London and a fake security van. Derren gives a masterclass in the powers of persuasion as he demonstrates how little it takes for the human mind to cross into deviant behaviour.

In a Hertfordshire hotel, Derren sets himself up as a motivational speaker at a seminar and convinces a group of responsible, middle-management businessmen and women to whom he is teaching his skills first to steal from a sweet shop and then to carry out an armed robbery from a security van using a handgun — the security van is fake and the handgun is a replica, but participants believe it to be an genuine crime.

Interesting stuff, this. Derren says he can "insidiously massage certain ideas of mental states into these people without even mentioning a robbery" so that whatever they do, it is of their own free will. He is very astute — he selects everyone very carefully and emotions run high. But Derren insists that everybody is cared for properly and is checked by an independent psychologist where necessary.

When it comes to The Séance, Darren is pure genius. The setting is the long-abandoned Elton Hall at the South London Hospital where he demonstrates how easy it is for charlatans to persuade the public they are genuine mediums.

Twelve volunteer university students are told that Elton Hall was a student training centre and that in 1974 a very charismatic young man called Nicholas Gadd persuaded a number of other medical students to enter into a suicide pact. Gadd, we are told, did not die but was later killed in a car accident in Australia.

Derren tells the students that a number of paranormal things have happened in this building and, using his trademark skills and showmanship, he challenges some of the myths of spiritualism, including séances. He demonstrates automatic writing, The Spirit Cabinet and the Ouija Board and is even able to select a student and tell her facts about her deceased grandmother!

In the 1800s, the Fox sisters toured the US with their séances and were the basis of Spiritualism. Unfortunately, Margaret Fox confessed later that they were frauds. Derren says he is interested in the techniques but clearly doesn't have much time for psychics.

Finally, we come to The System. Derren has developed a guaranteed system for winning on the horses that he can predict twenty-four hours in advance — and he explains how the audience can test it for themselves.

Choosing a volunteer, Derren sends her his predictions the day before a series of races and she wins every time. She begins to place larger bets until she risks the lot on one final race. Could this be the perfect system for winning at the races? Derren also does a fantastic demonstration of the laws of probability.

With plenty of audience participation, shocking stunts and subliminal mind-games, Derren Brown: The Specials does not disappoint. The DVD box set includes a fantastic range of special features such as Behind The Scenes footage, Making-Of documentaries and more. In a class of his own — both on stage and television — Derren intoxicates audiences with his unique brand of intelligent and theatrical entertainment.

Derren Brown: The Specials DVD box set will be released exclusively by 4DVD on Monday 3 November, 2008. Certificate: 15 | Catalogue No: C4DVD10215.

"…award-winning psychological illusionist Derren Brown demonstrates great showmanship and a natural, professional talent that could make you believe he was gifted with some sort of supernatural ability" — MotorBar

Derren Brown

Derren Brown's Mind Control and Trick Of The Mind television programmes have attracted rave reviews and award nominations. In 2003, Derren won The Silver Rose in the Variety Category at Rose d'Or, Montreux. His specials, such as Russian Roulette Live, Séance and The Heist, have provoked much debate and further consolidated his reputation as a performer prepared to constantly challenge and break boundaries.

As a live performer, Derren's shows have played to sell-out audiences throughout the UK. During its two-year sell-out tour, Something Wicked This Way Comes played in over one hundred theatres and culminated with the 2006 Olivier award for Best Entertainment Show. At the end of its run, this one-man stage show was specially re-staged at The Old Vic in London.