Sunday, December 16, 2007

How Derren Brown Broke Into Television

In an excellent 2003 interview, Derren Brown describes how his early UK TV specials came about.

In 1999, Brown was performing magic and hypnotism shows. He was beginning to experiment with psychology-based illusions, but with no intent of becoming a mentalist.

His manager called him to London to meet with Andrew O'Connor, a television producer. Brown performed a few tricks and impressed O'Connor. In November 1999, he signed on to do the first special.

Production did not begin until September 2000. The show took eight weeks to film, and DB claims he was not paid much.

Even after the special aired, Brown continued to perform in small venues. He recalls that he would perform in restaurants and people would come up to him and ask if he had seen the mentalist on television the night before. "I'd say, 'Well, that was me!' and they just couldn't quite ...they just didn't expect to see me in a restaurant working the tables."

The second TV special was much more successful than the first, and DB seems to have realized his days as a small-time performer were over. He released a video of his old magic tricks, entitled "Devil's Picture Videobook," and then virtually abandoned magic in favor of mentalism. He reveals in the interview that he initially stopped doing card tricks (even of the mind-reading variety), because he wanted to distance himself from traditional magic.

A third special followed, and the rest is history.

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