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Top 10 Derren Brown Moments

VO: Richard Bush
Written by Andrea Buccino Your mind can play tricks on you, but this is something else. Welcome to WatchMojo UK, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the top 10 Derren Brown moments. For this list, we take a close look at some of the most incredible, unbelievable and unnerving stunts and tricks that the illusionist has ever pulled. While Derren’s stage shows are famously freaky too, we’re focussing on his TV series and specials today. Oh, and stay sensible; don’t try this at home. Special thanks to our user WordToTheWes for submitting the idea on our interactive suggestion tool: WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Top 10 Derren Brown Moments


Your mind can play tricks on you, but this is something else. Welcome to WatchMojo UK, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the top 10 Derren Brown moments.

For this list, we take a close look at some of the most incredible, unbelievable and unnerving stunts and tricks that the illusionist has ever pulled. While Derren’s stage shows are famously freaky too, we’re focussing on his TV series and specials today. Oh, and stay sensible; don’t try this at home.

#10: Waking Up in Marrakech
“Trick or Treat” (2007-08)

First up today, an elaborate stunt from Derren’s “Trick or Treat” series. Having unknowingly picked the ‘trick’ card, Richard, the participant, is at Derren’s mercy. After hypnotising the poor bloke by way of a purpose-built photo booth, Derren and his film crew wheel him to the airport, onto a four-hour flight, and into the heart of bustling Marrakech. Richard wakes up in the same booth, completely oblivious, and can only gape in amazement when he pulls the curtain back.

#9: The Taxi Driver’s Memory Trick
“Trick of the Mind” (2004-06)

Black cab drivers know the streets of London like the backs of their hands. Just not when Derren’s around. In this clip, Derren and his crew jump in a taxi and ask to be taken to the London Eye. Easy enough, right? It’s a major tourist attraction, and it’s pretty hard to miss. But the simplest drive becomes a difficult affair. Thanks to Derren’s subtle misdirection, and a few well placed tricks, the driver completely forgets where the wheel is - even when it’s right in front of him.

#8: Simon Pegg’s Birthday Present
“Trick of the Mind” (2004-06)

Simon Pegg stops by for Derren’s next trick, which sees Brown hoodwink Pegg into wanting a very specific birthday present. Thanks to some well-placed visuals and clever verbal clues, he’s able to convince Pegg that what’s in the box he has prepared for him is exactly what he needs - never mind what he wrote a few days before! The ease with which Derren fools the actor gives a gilt-edge glimpse into the misdirection process, and makes for a spooky final reveal.

#7: The Guilt Trip
“Derren Brown: The Experiments” (2011)

Could you make an innocent man confess to a murder? Derren Brown’s pretty sure he can, and in one of his most infamous TV specials, he sets off to do just that. Through the use of actors, sets and some careful manipulation of Jody, his unknowing subject, Derren crafts one of his most fiendishly elaborate pranks - making mincemeat of his target’s emotions. The show also includes an appearance by Tim Minchin, and finishes with a feel-good reveal fuelled by Jody’s ultimate relief.

#6: Winning the Lottery
“Derren Brown: The Events” (2009)

For a few weeks in 2009, it seemed Derren Brown was all anyone was talking about. The mentalist made international headlines when he decided to win the lottery. Years on, and a lot of us are still wondering just what the heck happened. Did he win? Did he trick everybody? The amount of speculation surrounding this stunt still makes it one of Derren’s most controversial. And the second part of the show, where he explained three ways he could win the jackpot, didn’t exactly clear anything up. But then again, this is Derren Brown we’re talking about.

#5: Stephen Fry’s Assassination
“Derren Brown: The Experiments” (2011)

Inspired by Sirhan Sirhan’s claims that he has no memory of murdering Robert Kennedy, Derren sets out to hypnotise one young man into wanting to murder a celebrity. After selecting Chris as his victim (or should that be perpetrator?), Derren begins with multiple hypnosis sessions, setting up various triggers to ensure Chris’ total compliance. He then gives him a gun, points to Stephen Fry, and Chris calmly fires. Of course, the weapons fake, but the power that Derren clearly wields is very scary stuff.

#4: Playing Chess
“Trick of the Mind” (2004-06)

Chess is a complex game at the best of times, and quite a challenge against a good opponent. But, ever the showman, Derren takes on not one, but nine very skilled chess players in this clip, including four grandmasters - oh, and he’s playing them all at the same time! And he’s even got the gall to claim that his chess isn’t that good. So how does he win even a few of these matches? By lying and cheating, of course. Once the stunt is complete, Derren shows us how it’s done. The time to take notes is now.

#3: Waking Up in a Zombie Game
“Trick of the Mind” (2004-06)

To one of Brown’s early stunts, but still as brilliant as when it first aired. Back in the mid-2000s Virtual Reality still seemed the stuff of science fiction, but that didn’t stop Derren. Using a special arcade machine, he hypnotises a young man into a deep trance, before transporting him to inside the game he was playing. His bewildered victim awakes to a scene of carnage, with zombies out to eat his flesh! Of course, the undead theme is a favorutie of Derren’s; he reprised it years later for the eerie Apocalypse special.

#2: Kill a Kitten
“Trick or Treat” (2007-08)

Take one cute kitten, one glass box and a big red button which, if pressed, has fatal consequences for the cat. All Derren’s target has to do is refrain from pressing the button, and they’ll win £500 quid. Easy money, right? Well, apparently not. Through the use of negative suggestion, Derren throws his subject into a childlike state, in which she seems incapable of not pushing red. And as the seconds tick away, the harder it becomes to resist the impulse. It makes for compulsive viewing, and for one of Derren’s most evil moments.

#1: Playing Russian Roulette
“Russian Roulette” (2003)

Top spot goes to one of Derren's best known and most dangerous stunts. An amazing (and morbidly engrossing) feat, it turned Brown into a household name and established him as a standout showman. For his first ever TV special, Derren selects someone to load a revolver for a gutsy game of chance. Tasked with guessing which chamber holds the bullet to avoid blowing his own brains out, Derren lived to tell the tale - but we’re still scratching our heads as to how. As it was originally broadcast live, it remains one of the tensest moments in British TV history.
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