Friday, 9 July 2010

Derren Brown Cheats

I suspect Derren Brown might be quite a good hypnotist, but I don’t know.

I suspect he and his crew might use hypnosis off-camera, but I don’t know.

I suspect Derren’s shows are really Paul Daniels wrapped up in a cloak of psychobabble, but I don’t know.

But Derren Brown cheats. That I do know.

Apart from anything else, he admits it. At least, he admitted it.

“It is a mixture of real stuff and not real stuff. Hopefully part of the fun is   working out where the real stuff ends and the cheating starts.”

That’s what he said in an interview with Jamy Ian Swiss, in June 2003, answering criticisms raised by Simon Singh.

Working out where the cheating starts might be fun, I’m sure, if two things applied.

1)     That the audience knew the game was to work out “Where the real stuff ends and the cheating starts.”
2)     That the whole darn show isn’t cheating from beginning to end.

Maybe Derren doesn’t always cheat, but sometimes he only cheats. Sometimes the show is no more than a fictional sketch, as was the case when he appeared to take a novice and make them an accomplished pianist, capable of performing Mozart’s Variations on Twinkle Twinkle Little Star at the Wigmore Hall, in a matter of weeks.

I posted the following two messages to a Derren Brown discussion forum in 2007, in the days after the show aired.

Re: Trick Or Treat observations S01E04

The girl is a competent pianist.

DB (apparently) induced amnesia for her talent.

After an initial few duff notes during the performance her talent was restored and she played through some or all of Mozart's variations on Twinkle Twinkle Little Star (iirc) very nicely.

Do we think he had consent to deprive her of her talent? If so, then is it any kind of big deal? If not, is our entertainment any kind of justification for denying someone their art for any length of time?

IMHO the girl was either complicit, or DB has deluded himself (and his audience) into thinking any person can be exploited to any extent with impunity so long as it makes for an OK TV show.

Seriously ... my son is a musician like the girl in the stunt. To deny him access to music and reduce him to 'beginner' would be an act of abject cruelty that no amount of air time or argument could ever justify.

"Oh well, it's all a jolly good laugh and no harm was done," is the moron's apologia. That being the case, I suspect the girl was complicit.

Throughout this Trick or Treat series I've been developing an uneasy feeling about the extent to which it is acceptable to exploit others so that DB can look good. And the line I've heard at the end of some of his previous shows, to the effect that everyone is checked over afterwards to make sure they are psychologically OK, is weak as Watney's.

I'm inclined to conclude, therefore, that no one is being exploited and it's all more of a sketch than a stunt.

But I might be wrong.

Best wishes


Re: Trick Or Treat observations S01E04

If some of the stuff we see in the shows was actually as we are encouraged to think it is, DB would risk of getting himself into some trouble. I don't think he wants to get into any trouble. I think he wants us to believe it's an edgy show when in fact it is harmless. No one is traumatized. No one is exploited except, perhaps, the audience.

The deceit in the pianist stunt was the suggestion *to the audience* that the pianist had been out of love with her art and that DB succeeded in reviving her passion.

Utter bollocks, as I think the following two internet entries indicate.

YSHANI PERINPANAYAGAM, born in 1983, began studying the piano at the age of four under Vladislava Bajic. At the age of 13, she gained entry to the junior department of the Royal College of Music to study piano, flute and composition and during her studies won both the Angela Bull and the Teresa Correno Memorial Prizes, the latter resulting in the main of a recital at the Bolivar Hall, Oxford Circus. In 2004, Yshani auditioned successfully for a place on exchange at the Prague Academy studying with the pianist Peter Toperczer and is now in her final year of study as a scholar at the senior department of the Royal College of Music under John Barstow. She has performed at venues such as St. Martin in the Fields, Trafalgar Square, St. Paul's, Covent Garden and The Robin Howard Dance theatre located at The Place both as a soloist and with ensembles such as Sounds Positive and The Sarah Ings Ensemble. Yshani was a finalist in the RCM concerto competition in 2004 and has had a variety of competition successes at local festivals. In September, she will begin her studies at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, as a scholar, with Caroline Palmer.

Yshani Perinpanayagam (Sri Lanka / UK) Alongside her long-term interest in music, Yshani has danced for most of her life. While at school, she attained her RAD Grade 8 Ballet and ISTD Advanced I Modern while successfully tutoring herself to gain her Advanced II Tap and Associate qualification. During her final year at the Pamela Howard School of Dance, she was awarded the Senior Category and Musicality awards as well as the newly founded Choreography Prize. In 2002, Yshani was awarded a scholarship to study at the Royal College of Music as a pianist. In the same year, having collaborated with its young choreographers as a composer, Yshani began work at the Young Place as an accompanist. It is here she came into contact with contemporary dance. Yshani is currently continuing her studies at postgraduate level at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama while working as a musician at London Contemporary Dance School and London Studio Centre. She further combines her love for both music and dance in outreach workshops including with the Philharmonia Orchestra and the National Youth Orchestra Band both as an instrumentalist and movement leader. In 2007, five years after giving up dancing, Cloud Dance is making her realise how unfit she has become. She has recently joined Balletomane, a company performing ballet in the community for those not normally able to access it. Yshani is currently tied up with her end-of-term exams (and an ever- shifting performance on Derren Brown's 'Trick or Treat') but will rejoin us in the summer once that's all over.

NB - She was doing her end of term exams and ToT at the same time.

Best wishes


You see, Yshani was never out of love with talent; neither because of Derren Brown nor for any other reason. The show was a sketch. It was a work of fiction, a drama, and nothing else.

Neither the braystmichael nor the cloud-dance links work anymore, but they did at the time and their content was simply copied and pasted.

I hope neither Derren, nor his legal people object to this blog. After all, I am just having fun doing what he said; working out where the cheating starts.


  1. I am reading the first of his books at the moment to find out more about him and what made him to perform as he does. It is an interesting read, so far no admissions of cheating per se but rather how to ''work'' your audience .... sounds about the same as you suggest? Possibly ...

  2. Shut up, Victor CHRISTER Steincek är inte bög!