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28 October 2014

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Saturday 26 April 2003
Derren Brown @ Colne Municipal Hall
Mr Derren Brown

"Everything you see is real. But nothing is based in reality."

Can Derren still impress without the power of TV?

Reviewer Suzanne Worthington finds out.


Derren Brown review
Another review from 2001 by BBC Bristol.

Caron Parsons visits Derren at his Bristol home.


Official website
Derren's own website. Very clear design, lots of information and images.

Mind Control
Website for Derren's Channel 4 TV show.

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external websites.

View a printable version of this page.
get in contact
Derren Brown is a master of mind tricks, made famous by his Channel 4 ‘Mind Control’ series.
(If you’ve never heard of him, where have you been? Click here for more.)

His first UK tour brought Derren to Colne for a sell-out performance on a drizzly Saturday night. The audience buzzed with anticipation as the house lights went down.


The show begins with an ice-breaker "to get over the embarrassment factor". Derren hides behind a curtain and throws a ball of paper out. Perhaps a more formal start with more ‘wow-factor’ would have made some of the more unruly audience members behave?

Derren describes the first half of the show as "entertaining, to make you laugh". (Tip: As with many comic shows, don’t make the mistake of booking a front-row seat.) Effortlessly funny and somewhat mischievous, Derren is instantly likeable and strangely attractive.

Derren Brown dressed in a green 'Riddler' suit

Derren as The Riddler. How much did they pay him to wear that suit??

The stunts in this half are the kind seen on his TV show, using undetectable suggestions to sway volunteers’ decisions and picking up on signals to ‘read minds’.

Dressed to impress

I did wonder if the TV editors only show the most successful bits, but Derren was right 100% of the time.

Scarier than his dinner party tricks was the semi-hypnosis. Derren put his hands over volunteer Fran’s eyes and pulled her head forward. I hate anyone standing too close in a shop queue - didn’t she mind Derren’s invasion of her personal space? How does he do it?

After the interval, Derren donned his Matrix coat and cranked up the spookiness. I’m not giving anything away but it involves a ouija board and you’ll never believe psychics again. By the end, every jaw was on the floor.

I’m sorry I’ve forgotton

For a man who can memorise four packs of cards simultaneously, Derren was rubbish with names. "Mark, no, err, Keith?" Is this to throw his subjects off-balance or does he genuinely need a lesson from Tony Buzan?

My major gripe would be the audience. Some of the 683-strong crowd thought it appropriate to roll in drunk, kick bottles over in the silence and clomp drunkenly to the loo throughout the performance. It’s not a cabaret! Give the man some respect.

I met Derren afterwards and he admitted it had been a difficult gig. With the spotlight on him, he hadn't realised he'd received a 70% standing ovation. We might have been a difficult bunch but we loved the show.


Derren Brown

Mr Brown minus the Matrix coat...

A mis-spent childhood has provided Derren with a superhuman ability. It's something everyone could aspire to, but while most of us were busy partying our way through college, Derren was devoting hours of practice to his art.

Thank goodness he doesn't aspire to world domination (I hope).

Derren is currently working on a book - hurry up with it please. And Mr Brown, if you ever fancy taking on an apprentice…?

Review by Suzanne Worthington, BBC Cumbria

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