Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Inside Info from a Participant in Trick or Treat 2, Episode 1

Davorg left a comment on my prior post (REVEALED: Episode 1 of Derren Brown's Trick or Treat 2).

He participated in the "Night of Champions" pub quiz that is featured in episode 1 of the new series. Be sure to read his full account at davblog, which includes the following:

For a number of years now we've taken part in a weekly quiz in a local pub.... So we weren't too surprised to be invited to one a couple of months ago. The difference with this one was that it was being filmed by Channel 4. According to the quizmaster, they had been in touch with him as they wanted to make a documentary about the rise in pub quizzes in London. They had asked him to put on a night that they could film. He got together about thirty of his best teams and Channel 4 added in another couple of teams - one of which was one man one his own.

The one-man team was, obviously, Glen Brighton, the Trick or Treat contestant who had been coached by Derren Brown.

Davorg declined to give any spoilers about the competition because he signed a release form with Channel 4, promising not to disclose details of the event.

After the episode airs this Friday, I am hoping Davorg will post a complete account of how the episode was filmed.

Monday, April 28, 2008

REVEALED: Episode 1 of Derren Brown's Trick or Treat 2

Today's Telegraph revealed the contents of Episode 1 of Derren Brown's Trick or Treat 2 series, which airs this Friday on Channel 4:

[Glen] Brighton, 40,... took on more than 100 of the finest general knowledge brains in Britain in a "champion of champions" contest - surprising everyone with an astonishing performance....

[To prepare], he speed-read mountains of text by mentally "photographing" it in his mind, taking only a few seconds per page. Then he associated the words on the page with visual images which enabled him to recall them easily....

His objective was to enter the Night of Champions quiz.... The event is one of the biggest in the pub quiz calendar, drawing champions from pubs across the South East to compete....

Mr Brighton was taught the techniques by Derren Brown, the magician, for a Channel 4 television series.

His performance, and the final result of the quiz, will be revealed in the first episode of Derren Brown: Trick Or Treat, which will be broadcast on Friday.

I'm guessing Mr. Brighton will do quite well.

BONUS: check out this YouTube video -- it's a clip from an old NLP/hypnotism training course, and you can see a very young Derren Brown in the audience.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Derren's "News" -- Tacky or Calculated?

As you are likely aware, this past week, on April 21, 2008, the Sun published an article announcing that Derren Brown is a homosexual.

As iTricks quickly pointed out, Derren had announced his sexual orientation a year ago in an article in the Independent. Unlike the prior announcement, though, this week's announcement was repeated in other mainstream newspapers (see, e.g., the Daily Mail), as well as numerous small-circulation periodicals and, of course, the web.

Why would Derren make this announcement a second time?

1. The Official Story

Derren answers the question himself on his official website, under the heading "second coming":

For anyone confused as to why Derren would seem to be 'coming out' again, and this time to the tabloids: the article in the Sun yesterday was something of a suprise. Derren had answered a couple of questions from a Sun journalist within a half-hour interview about the TV series, that were concerned with why he discreetly mentioned all that man-on-man business in the Independent a few months ago. Derren politely answered that it was a necessary evil: not really anyone's business, but if you don't do it then it becomes perceived as a secret. The Sun then printed this as if Derren had chosen to come out there and then to them, complete with 'Exclusive' across the top of the article. As if. Other papers then picked up on this, and suddenly it was new news.
So, yes, for those who thought it was a bit odd and tacky, it was.

Derren says the tabloid newspaper misrepresented his comments. That could be true. But --

2. The Psychological Illusionist Conspiracy Theory

The story did create a lot of buzz in the British media, and the timing is convenient (less than two weeks prior to the premier of Trick or Treat 2, Derren's new TV series).

Isn't it at least possible that Derren orchestrated the whole thing?

We here at AboutDerrenBrown are seldom critical of DB. But we have to point out that someone who can perform a magic trick and call it psychology could also execute a media campaign and call it a misunderstanding.

There, we've said it. Make up your own mind.

While we're being slightly critical of DB, though, check out the announcement under the heading "Are you a talented web designer?" on his official website. He is looking for a web designer who will work pro bono.

Hmm... If you are a web designer looking for a charity project, you might be able to find someone more needy than DB.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Martin Taylor, the Man Who Inspired Derren Brown

In interviews, Derren Brown frequently credits his interest in hypnotism, psychological illusion, and performance entertainment generally to Martin Taylor, a stage hypnotist.

In his first year of college, at age 19, Derren attended Taylor's show. It was typical of stage hypnotism, with performances designed to embarrass participants for the amusement of onlookers (e.g., making a subject cluck like a chicken). [See Martin Taylor's comment below for an explanation of this correction.]

Derren spent much of his first year of college learning the art of hypnotism. He was obsessed with figuring out how Mr. Taylor did it, and he practiced on college friends. After a year or so of practice, Derren began performing legitimate hypnosis shows. He even considered a career as a hypnotherapist before moving on to stage magic.

Taylor's take on hypnotism is similar to Derren's -- he does not believe that a "hypnotic state" exists. Instead, he believes that what we call hypnotism is simply a state of heightened suggestion due to human tendencies to obey authority figures and conform to group expectations.

Taylor considers Derren a friend and is proud of his success. In a 2005 interview, he listed three things about Derren which deserve to be more widely known:

1. If he decided not to be a mind-reader, he could easily be (in fact, he is) one of the top sleight-of-hand magicians in the country, if not the world.

2. If he decided not to be a magician at all, he could easily be (in fact, he is) one of the best caricaturists in the country, if not the world.

3. He has worked prodigiously hard to get where he is. Even if I had his talent, there is simply no way that I have the self-discipline and drive to make it work for me the way Derren has. All credit to him.

Martin Taylor still performs, and you can see his official site here. He also performs as a magician.

[Thanks to the many readers who have already completed my blog-content survey. If you have not done it yet, please do. It is located on the right side of this window, and only takes a few seconds to complete.]

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Derren Brown Tricks Doctor Who

A post on David Tennant's website today revealed that Trick or Treat 2 will air May 2, 2008 on Channel 4. [thanks to Andrea for the tip] UK TVGuide confirms this date, listing the 30-minute season premier at 10:00 pm.

What does David Tennant have to do with Trick or Treat 2? The Doctor Who star is featured in the new series. His website explains that:

David has been doing a bit of time travelling with the help of magician Derren Brown.

He was fooled into thinking he could see into the past and future for a stunt on the new series of Trick Or Treat.

Derren swooped after hiding in David’s make-up truck, on the set of Doctor Who, he said: "David's the only person who has ever screamed when I surprised them. But he reacted well to the trick, which used visualisation and suggestion techniques. He seemed to enjoy it."

Derren's Trick Or Treat will start airing on Channel 4 on Friday 2nd May.

This information is repeated in today's Sun.

DB is evidently continuing his recent trend of involving celebrities in his shows.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Peek Inside Derren's Stage Show - An Evening of Wonders

Naquada has posted an excellent account of Derren's current stage show, An Evening of Wonders. It does contain spoilers, so read at your own risk.

After you've done that, take 30 seconds to complete the survey to the right of this entry. I am trying to improve the mix of content on AboutDerrenBrown, and I need your input. Thanks!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Trick or Treat 2 with Derren Brown -- Information from a Contestant

Last I checked, Derren Brown's website claimed the Trick or Treat 2 series would begin on April 13, 2008. Channel 4's TV listings do not, however, list the show on that date.

We don't know when the new series is coming, but it definitely is coming. Ronk, a participant in the production of Trick or Treat 2 left a comment on AboutDerrenBrown with the following inside information:

I was shortlisted for Trick or Treat 2 but unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, didn’t hear anymore.

Last year I spotted an advertisement in the London Lite asking people to visit http://www.trickortreat2.com/ if they were interested in being in the next series of Trick or Treat. I answered all the questions and sent a video. After a week or so I was invited to an informal audition session.

I didn’t know what to expect but for some strange reason before this audition session I also received a black envelope with my name and address written with a gold paint pen. Inside the envelope was a red card with Derren’s devilish profile printed in black with the words ‘You are being considered’ on the reverse.

At the audition there were around 70 other people, photo’s were taken and forms were filled in before being asked to enter a hall where there were lines of seats set out like an examination room.

The producer form Objective Productions, Simon I think, introduced himself and gave a brief explanation about what would happen next. I’m no sure if it was intentional, but up until that point there was no indication that Derren would actually be there. Then all of a sudden Derren was introduced as he popped out of a side door next to the stage.

Derren explained that he would go through various hypnosis tests and that we should be honest with our responses. People would not be picked based on how often they responded to the hypnosis tests and if we faked it we wouldn’t be doing ourselves any favours.

If people didn’t respond to a test they were asked to sit to one side of the hall. Eventually there were around 12 people left and it ended with two guys who were made to forget the number 7.

It was a very enjoyable evening but I must admit I felt a bit odd during the next day. I haven’t been hypnotised before and would say I wouldn’t like to be again.

I was told a few weeks later I was shortlisted but wouldn’t here any more due to the nature of the programme. Being that the timescale was up to the end of February I guess I’ve not been picked. A relief to be honest…RonK

Thanks for the great information, RonK! I don't think I would feel too relieved yet, though. Making the unwary participant think she has been rejected from the show was a common ruse of Derren Brown's in Trick or Treat 1.

The producer named "Simon" in the above account is, presumably, Simon Mills, who worked on the first Trick or Treat series.

If anyone knows when Trick or Treat 2 will be aired, please drop me a line. Thanks!