Over the weekend I interviewed Derren Brown at the Edinburgh International Science Festival. Derren was the perfect guest, and was insightful, articulate and funny in equal measure. As part of the event we took afternoon tea….

(photograph by Gordon Rutter)

(photograph by Kenny Mathieson)

There was no recording of the interview, but here is one of my favourite clips of Derren in action…..

What is your favourite Derren Brown piece?


  1. You’re right, that is a very good clip.
    How amazing it must be to have an audience synchronously GASP.. Another good clip is the moment in Enigma with the reveal of the engraved coin of the spec’s deceased grand-parent, after building an emotional journey. The room of thousands is silent until a uniform gasp.
    One of the many ways Derren is so good is that he knows how to let a strong moment breathe..

  2. It was a lovely afternoon, really happy that I made it there. The best bit I love was your cookie prediction part XD, just brilliant!


  4. Gail, your capslock key appears to be stuck.

    My favourite Derren piece… I don’t think I can pick just one. There’s the classics from the early tv series, like Smoke with Stephen Fry (who wanted to burn him at the stake and watch his witches’ heart bubble). There’s the entire run of Trick or Treat, which was brilliant without exception. There’s the awesome specials. And then the stage shows — Evening of Wonders being my favourite, mainly because I got to be the ‘victim’ of a rather funny trick, with Svengali a close second because of the steampunk theme and decor.

    So at the risk of sounding like a horrible fangirl, I’m going to say that I can’t pick just one. He’s not my favourite magician for nothing.

  5. This clip reminds me of my favourite part – it’s earlier during the same show: Derren tells the guy in the audience exactly how much money there is in the box, and he still goes for the wrong amount.

  6. I’ve been to see Derren on quite a few occasions, also at the filming of the last in his ‘Events’ shows. I also know very well a guy who used to make some of his props for him too. Which really are genius, (although he did make a very worried phonecall to him from a tour in Spain telling him he’d broken the Rolex Cup Trick in the middle of the night and how could he fix it)

    The one thing that amazes me more than anything else is his ability to come across as so over confident, when actually he is really the opposite if you meet him. He likes to give the impression of a master, which of course he is, but really he’s a pussy cat. When i saw that side of him in person, and my friend relaying the midnight spanish fiasco, that it added more to the respect for him that I already had.

  7. Bobatov: Wow, that surprises me about the broken trick. Not that he’d panic about it — I would, too, if I didn’t know how to fix a crucial item — but that he wouldn’t know how to fix it himself. I mean, obviously I only own stupid and not-very-expensive amateur effects, but I know how they work and why they work. I emphatically dislike working with ‘black boxes’ in any aspect of my life, so it surprises me that a magician as good as Derren would use something without knowing its insides well enough to be able to patch it back together when it breaks. Now obviously, I may be underestimating the complexity of the materials or the construction of the item in question, and that might be why the builder was needed for the fix. And I’m not in any way implying that if he does work with stuff that’s a ‘black box’ to him, it makes him a lesser magician/performer in any way. It just surprises me, is all.

  8. I loved the programmes about faith he did a while back. But I love everything he does. The most original programmes out there. I don’t think I will ever get over the ending to Something Wicked This Way Comes though. I especially liked the cheeky wink he did to the camera backstage! Smug, but in a fantastic way. 🙂

  9. Berber, think you sweat too much about the little things in life……see back to normal, hope you’re ok with this lol

    1. Text written in all caps is just a lot harder to read. It’s considered a bit impolite, or at least it used to be. Caps for emphasis is fine, but to write an entire post in them is kind of equivalent to yelling your entire part of a conversation.

      I’m not saying it’s a horrible offense or anything, and I didn’t mean to insult you in any way. Just alerting you to the fact.

  10. i like the trick he did when he said he predicted the lottery numbers, but he only showed his prediction after the real result was published. that turned what he called a prediction into a news report, but no one noticed.

    true magicians are astrologers, they truly tell each of us what will happen day after day without fail in the pages of newspapers. darren b should try that for a living one day,

    1. Magicians are entertainers. It’s sleight of hand and showmanship. if you’re shopping for some genuine “Magick”, then you’re out of luck. It doesn’t exist. Visit your local church if you want to be surrounded by people that believe it’s real — but here in the real world, just smile and enjoy the show.

    2. Derren. With an ‘e’, not an ‘a’. And newspaper predictions are a magic staple, there’s tons of methods out there for those. In fact, I think Derren did a take on one in the Trick or Treat episode with David Tennant.

      By the way, astrology is based on the idea of the celestial spheres, the clockwork universe. The movement of the outer spheres that held the stars, sun and moon would subtly influence events on the inner sphere containing the earth. So unless you still believe that the earth is the centre of the universe, you’re accepting a half-system as gospel truth.

    3. yet a half system may be truer than a completely fake one. especially when the results are so testable.

    4. Magic is not intended as truth, it’s intended to amaze by trickery. Like Derren puts it — ‘I may be dishonest, but I’m always honest about my dishonesty’. Astrology, with its vagaries and Barnum statements, is dishonest dishonesty, because it claims truthfulness.

      If astrologers can really predict the future with such amazing accuracy, let them apply for the JREF Million Dollar Paranormal Challenge. Have them tested under controlled conditions. Have them make statements that contain no weasel words, no multi-interpretable vagueness. Let a magician who knows how to fake such test keep a hold of those predictions, so they are safe from tampering (if you wish to avoid trickery, best to employ a trickster). If your astrologer has indeed predicted tomorrow’s news in a foolproof way, without trickery or ambiguity, he or she stands to win a million dollars. Also, I may then consider your system to be of some value.

      Until then, though, I’m just calling it dishonest magic.

  11. T’was a lovely afternoon indeed. I stuck my hand up and asked a question about how he makes those quick decisions about choosing people to take part or not when doing the street thing or the shows. Not a particularly deep question but it interests me and he gave a full and thoughtful answer.

    So many good moments I can’t think of just one favourite.

    1. For those which were not as lucky as you and didn’t manage to be there: how he does decide?

    2. It was a full but fairly straightforward answer and came down mostly to knowing from experience – how someone walks, how they answer a question, their general manner. All can add up to a picture of how they may react to Derren and whether they will be maleable or not to the requirements of the trick. He also said that sometimes he won’t choose someone just for effect.

  12. Does the inclusion of afternoon tea mean there will be a new series of the ‘afternoon tea with Richard Wiseman’ podcast?

    I do hope so.

  13. Incidentally, I saw ‘an evening of wonders’ live and despite not spotting the gorilla first time it arrived on stage, the second time I just knew it was going to be Derren in the suit.

    My favourite Derren moment, if I can honestly claim to have a ‘favourite’ has been mentioned above – his performance of Smoke for Stephen Fry. Mr Fry’s exclamation of ‘fuck off!’ makes me laugh every time, love it.

  14. Enigma was brilliant, just seen Svengali this week and he is awesome. Quite simply the finest entertainer of our time! His ability to maintain control of an audience for 2+hours is amazing! Everyone should go to see him they really should!

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