Derren Brown’s balls

“Please tell me you haven’t complained to Channel 4 about Derren Brown…”

Well…”complaint” is very strong, although that is the word I used in the letter. Ultimately my request has been for Channel 4 to explain a couple of points rather than a green-ink rant demanding cancellation of the series or such like. It wasn’t an angry letter at all, to be honest, more concerned. Both the so-called magician Brown and Channel 4 themselves should be able to handle themselves against a cynical northerner.

Throughout August Channel 4 broadcast a number of teaser-trailers and commercials for “The Event”, a Derren Brown fronted programme in which he claimed the Lotto numbers would be predicted…live. He even paused just like that, as they do when revealing the winners on Big Brother. With some further information on the months of preparation, Brown claimed in the days immediately preceding the broadcast on Wednesday, 9 September, that the prediction would go ahead live. The claim was followed up in national newspapers earlier in the week.

What followed of course was not a live prediction, the main point of query in my letter to Channel 4. Using a mix of “as live” recording techniques and split-screen recording, Brown did not predict – live or otherwise – the lottery numbers. He even went on to broadcast an “explanation show” the following Friday attempting to fog the issue further by inventing a concept of “Wisdom of the Crowd”, sounding more like something from a David Icke book.

On a number of Brown websites and forums, questions about the “live prediction” have surfaced from fans and cynics alike. Some fans have used the phrase “jumping the shark”, slightly angered that Brown’s live prediction claims were nothing more than a mild case of false advertising. His “stunt” has been “rubbished” by mathematicians who claim his “averaging” technique made no sense at all. I have known people use far more convincing reasons behind Grand National selections than his contrived “averaging” explanation.

Illusionist Brown’s pretend magic is as entertaining as any end of the pier “turn”, which effectively he has now become. Like a Uri Geller for the digital age his career is somewhat behind him, now having to “sex up” his claims, such as being able to literally do the impossible by predicting the workings of a lottery machine. Had Channel 4 broadcast a simple disclaimer advising viewers that the show was merely entertainment and not a prediction, no letter of complaint would have been sent by me.

So was my letter pedantry? Jealousies? Were any ordinary person to claim they could predict the future only to come up with an obviously faked stunt there would be understandable outrage and derision. Channel 4 may well have tricked many viewers into thinking the show was real. I have not made a habit of complaining about television programmes, nor do I see fans of Brown as being of questionable intelligence for liking him. My issue is with his attempt to call a staged and partly pre-recorded stunt a “live prediction”, something Channel 4, his producers, and of course himself, knew to be false.

No reply as yet, I’ll update if anything comes.

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5 thoughts on “Derren Brown’s balls

  1. Liam, you have plainly gone completely off the bendy end. I think you need to remember that this is plainly a MAGIC SHOW. Now, dear old Derren (and for the sake of transparency, yeah I do call myself a fan) has done what magicians have done for years.He's done a trick.Complaining that a well known magician didn't "do exactly as advertised" is ludicrous. It's like writing a letter of complaint to British Airways because you got on an aeroplane and it flew.The wisdom-of-crowds explanation was clearly Derren having fun, it wasn't even presented in any seriousness (which would be obvious to anyone who watched the whole thing).If you're going to be offended by this, bear in mind that all of Houdini's great escapes, James Randi stopping his heart onstage, all of the great card tricks, mind reading feats, David Copperfield making the statue of liberty disappear…(take a breath, Liam, cause this might distress you)ALL TRICKS.That's right, every last one. Copperfield didn't introduce the Liberty trick by saying "I'm going to make it look like the statue is gone but it won't be really", did he?People like you shouldn't be allowed near entertainment.

  2. I'm going to have to second Paddy's remarks (although I'm a bit more tactful ;)). I would have been astounded if Derren had presented a plausible, workable explanation of how he did it, to be honest.a) Magicians are bound by a professional code of ethics not to reveal how their tricks work.b) Even if he didn't have such things to consider, it would be professional suicide for him to teach Joe Public how to do the things he does, as Derren would then lose his edge; he wouldn't be unusual or entertaining.c) Camelot would have too much to lose if he taught the nation how to fleece them on a regular basis; I'm sure part of the deal when he proposed this stunt to them was that he wouldn't do that.To be honest, I imagine that if last night's 'explanation' had anything at all to do with what really happened, it'll be a loose, tangential connection that would be invisible to the untrained eye. Remember The System, when he explained how he'd managed to get his guinea pig on that winning streak, but when he bought that final ticket for her at the track and changed her numbers (allowing her to win where she would have lost had she gone with her existing choice of numbers), he didn't explain how he did that part of the trick. "How did I know to do that? I…er…can't remember." He'll always hold something back from us – he has to, on so many levels – and there's a reason he includes the words "misdirection and showmanship" in his pre-show blurb. :)That being said – love the title of this post!

  3. I personally do not believe he did "predict" the lottery numbers, but I did watch the explaination show and do agree with the "wisdom of crowds" theory. A prefect example of which can be seen in the spreadbetting markets in elections

  4. I like magic tricks and I think the lottery "prediction" was quite good. However it didn't need an hour long show pretending to explain how they it was done but didn't give away anything.An hour of my life wasted, thanks Derren!

  5. i, personally enjoyed the hour of pertending that was obviously not going to help anyone with winning the lottery. he is an illusionist and psychologist. he doesent read peoples minds, he reads their bodies, he doesent magically make things happen, he either cheats or does something that isn't magic.magic doesnt exist. nor do fairies or pixies. they are illusions. i agree with Faye L. Booth. he would not show people how he does that because it will take the wonder away from you.he is says he uses misdirection,live with it.

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