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Derren Brown – Mind Reader: The Evening of Wonders

Derren Brown programme coverHalfway through the second act, Derren Brown called out my name and told me the first song I ever played on a guitar. It was quite the thing.

Derren Brown is a ‘psychological illusionist’ memorably described by Charlie Brooker as ‘clearly the greatest dinner party guest in history’. His TV shows regularly feature a mixture of street magic/psychology and elaborate, often controversial, events. He’s certainly the most interesting TV magician of recent years, and last night I saw him at the Birmingham Hippodrome.

Like his TV shows, the act was described as a mixture of ‘magic, suggestion, psychology, misdirection and showmanship’1, and lived up to the billing. We were told that during the show a gorilla would come onto the stage, steal a banana from a stand at the front, and most of us wouldn’t notice. So it proved. We saw an audience member forget information given to her moments before, a floating table drag four volunteers around the stage, six rapid-fire games of 20 questions in which he never asked more than 4, and a series of baffling three-digit-number predictions. Somebody’s phone rang and he said “don’t answer, it’s really bad news”.

Derren Brown is unquestionably on the side of Good. He says up front “I do not have psychic powers, and I may well trick you”, then proceeds to do so. People who claim to have psychic powers and use the same tricks to make money are unquestionably Evil2, the opposite are great entertainment. Some have questioned whether he goes too far: there’s plenty of genuine psychology, but also a fair amount of magical trickery wrapped up in the same patter. I was lucky enough to get an insight into this. At the end of the first act we were told to watch out for ushers with 150 cards. Recipients were asked to write a question for Derren on the card, seal it inside the supplied black envelope and note their initials and row on the front. They were then to check the envelope was truly opaque before walking onto the stage and placing it into a glass bowl, which remained in full view of the audience throughout the interval.

Obviously, I wanted to do this. So I did. I moved fairly quickly and was able to grab a card before they ran out. The card asked for my name, birthday and a question for Derren. He’d said it could be literally anything, so I wrote “How did the bee ‘waggle dance’ evolve?”. The back of the card then asked for a private piece of information to further test his abilities, so I filled this in too then quickly headed to the stage, dropped my envelope into the bowl and made it back to my seat just before the lights dimmed.

After a couple of tricks he explained the procedure. By looking at the handwriting on the front of the envelope he hoped to ascertain the personality type of its owner. We were to stand up, and he’d then read our body language and try to figure out what we’d written. And then proceeded to do so. He picked out apparently random cards, sometimes using them, sometimes discarding them, and called out the initials so the owner stood. He told people the pets they had, the password for their computer, their occupation and what they’d been doing that day. About half-way through he took off his microphone earpiece, in case anybody thought he was being fed answers, and wrapped bandages around his head to completely blind himself. And then continued with the act. The following exchange (transcribed as accurately as I can remember) happened shortly after:

DB: [picks up a card] A guitar! Andy..Andrew…does that match anybody?
Me: [standing up and receiving the microphone from a scurrying usher] Yes, that’s me.
DB: A Taurean, right?
Me: Yes. [gasps from audience] DB: This is something musical, something to do with the guitar. I’m getting…It’s the first song you played on the guitar, am I right?
Me: Yes.
DB: Ok. About fifteen years old, right?
Me: No.
DB: It is older?
Me: Oh, me or the song?
DB: Never mind, one question at a time. Sing the song over in your head. Over and over. Try to project it to me.
Me: [actually doing so]. Ok.
DB: I’m getting something about…pain, is that close?
Me: Yes, very.
DB: And lots of pain. I can’t quite figure it out. There are many people in pain? Something like that?
Me: That’s very close.
DB: I can’t get the title I’m afraid, what is it?
Me: Everybody Hurts. [audience go into shock]

I was very, very impressed. The rest of the show was most entertaining, but I couldn’t quite get over him managing to detect that kind of information from what must have purely been the tone of my voice – it’s astonishing that people can give away that much information!

Later, I changed my mind. There’s no doubt that the guy has an uncanny ability to read people, and I was prepared to accept that handwriting could give away very obvious facts like gender, leaving him to discern the rest from body language, but blinded he couldn’t possibly have known my guitar fact and name. So it must have been trickery, rather than psychology. I’m confident I’ve worked out how it was done, starting from the age-old magical principle that there is no limit to the trouble a magician will go to. I’m not going to go into it here – I see no reason to, and am still bound by the old magician’s code anyway – but the clues are there if you want the intellectual exercise.

It is momentarily crushing to realise you’ve been fooled. I bought into the psychological aspect, and when I realised this was a falsehood I felt tricked. But not for long. Once you figure out the secret you can see the myriad of ways he worked to throw people off the scent, and it was remarkably well done. The subtlety and panache of just that one trick was stunning, and his performance impeccable: I believed every second of him not being able to figure out the song title. There was plenty in the show that was clearly trickery, but I have no idea as to the mechanics. Other effects gave every impression of being purely psychological. I had the advantage of extra knowledge in the routine I was involved with, and if each of the others was as carefully constructed, which they must have been, it was a hell of a creation. My admiration far outweighs the initial resentment.

Derren Brown’s obfuscation of psychology and trickery is edgier than most magicians’, but I don’t have a problem with it. You don’t have to be a great logician to realise it’s impossible to get a psychological reading of somebody’s handwriting if you’re blindfolded, and throughout the show he was at pains to say he doesn’t believe in psychic ability and is highly skeptical with regard to the paranormal. I can’t think of any statements that were outright lies and not magician’s misdirection. There’s plenty in psychology that is astonishing – much of it is well highlighted in his more spectacular TV work – and anything that draws attention to it is fine with me.

A good magic show is a wonderful thing, and there aren’t many classier than this. Highly recommended.

  1. the programme is also “100% natural: we have used organic paper and done away with nasty chemicals or artificial inks.” Gotta love those natural inks. []
  2. it’s likely that some believe they have some genuine ability, but that’s not an excuse []

686 comments

  1. Flippin’hell David, two secret moves at the two the ends of the stage, we aren’t given much chance, are we! :D You managed to catch when the box come in and don’t know how the girl picked the right picture, me vice versa. It was the same way he had the three of diamonds picked on the last tour. He deals the cards/pictures slow enough so she is likely to stop him at the 3D/ice. If it’s still in his hand, then that’s what he’ll take as her choice, if he’s just put it down, then that one. I just wish to see what he’d do if someone picks, say, the bottom one – at the cards he had her to pick again saying he saw her choice, but I think the pictures are too big for that to be credible.
    Now the ending’s been revealed, I can ask – is the song the band’s own with lyrics (anyone has it?) rewritten or did they put the whole song together solely for the show?

  2. Hi Rita – thanks! Yes, It could be the same 3 of diamond trick. With only 6 cards, if he wants to force the Ice card, then put that in the middle, say position 3 in the pack. She won’t take the top one, if she chooses 2nd one, then he has her turn over the next card in position 3 (the Ice). If she chooses 4th card, then he turns over the last card he picked (position3 – ice) etc. Not sure if she goes to 5 or 6. Remember Derren is excellent at embedding commands, so it is likely that he does some “You can NOW choose the card now that you want to STOP at as you are happy with the card” stuff. Also, there was the “Please shuffle the cards into a NEW ORDER” line as New Order blue Monday played and got a laugh. That might have been the distraction he needed to reshuffle cards to get Ice in position 3.

    I don’t think McFly have released a song with Goose, Moose and Apple Juice in! If you Google the words, there is nothing so I am sure they are under confidentiality contract (and it is good promo/buzz fro McFly). I saw the on TV on Comic Relief last year and they had to invent a song with 6 objects chosen by the audience, so maybe Master Brown got the idea there.

    What I find interesting is that we so want to believe the amazing finale, or that there really was Vinegar in the bottle that we suspend our logical rational thinking and our minds what to believe it is happening the way we initially think it is.

    What strikes me as incredible is Derren’s confidence in his showmanship to do this night after night knowing that one slip up with the envelope say could complete wreck the end of the show, and it always works perfectly.

    Does anybody know what happened to his US TV show and weren’t there going to be some more UK TV specials

    David

  3. First up – great blog! Really interesting and infomative.

    I went to the Plymouth Enigma show, and had an excellent night. Not sure I can add much to previous comments, especially Rita’s great review – but here are some things I noticed.

    I wasn’t particularly impressed taken with the “3 favourite things” bit, or the slightly (in my opinion) hamfisted inclusion of the word McFly in the introductory speech. As the assistant took the box of “three favourite things” up onto the stage I noticed her hand go inside the box just for a moment. My theory is that she flipped something down from the side, which covered up all the audience slips and left only the canned choice. The guy who choose the random words really had no imagination, which probably spoilt it a bit since Derren didnt need to do much improvisation to git to the right answer (Thailand, Discgraced and Sparkly for Glitter – come on!)

    I also noticed the picking up of the foil and the slight moment when his hand went off stage as mentioned in previous posts – in fact it seemed a bit clumsy if you were looking for it – but I’m sure most people didn’t.

    I tried to do the trance bit properly (closed my eyes etc) but it had no effect on me. I was sat right behind the girl who was eventually chosen to be the medium, and she did genuinely seem to be in a bit of a sleepy state (the waking up looked pretty genuine) – so maybe it does effect those who want it to.

    A lot of the spirit stuff was very impressive, but I did notice some simple(!!) sleight of hand (for example the name prediction went up his sleeve, and then something went in pockets when he was hitting the curtain). He put the black bag on the head of the guy holding the chalkboard before he got to hold it (and so see it), and Derren had done a switch from the blank one before this (hidden inside the newspaper maybe??). I can think of plausible mechanical ways of doing some (but not all) of the other bits as well – but the overall effect was really good.

    The bits I cant explain are the simple prediction bits. When he got a guy from the audience and “guessed” his childhood memory, and then got the name of his sister, mum and dad, that seemed simple (almost old school Derren Brown) but impressive to me. Prior research perhaps? Any other ideas anyone?

    Overall, a great show that I would recommend to anyone.

  4. Hey all,

    I went to see Derren’s Enigma on Friday night in Reading. Now I love Derren and all his work, but found that show fell pretty flat with me. His showmanship and storytelling were great as usual, but for me the stunts themselves were nowhere near as strong as his last shows. I know it’s not real magic, but I want it to be clever enough that I haven’t worked it out before the reveal – which rarely happened for me on Friday. They just seemed like a load of cheap tricks, and I’m just a lay person (not a magician, just a curious observer).

    Also, I’ll mention that (through no fault of his own) , he had problems with the sound in there. When he first came on stage, his mic wasn’t working so he had to change it onstage, which he looked a bit annoyed about. Then just after the 2 ‘hypnotised’ people came on stage there was a horrible loud feedback screetch that would have woken anyone from their ‘sleep’ and he had to change the mic again.

    I’ll jot down a few thoughts on the tricks, obviously SPOILERS apply, but I’m not going to do a full write-up as someone’s done it well above and I’m too lazy.

    We did, admittedly enter the hall late on – one of the last few in – so I don’t know what happened earlier with putting words into the hamper. So when Derren comes out and shows us this box of paper and says “thanks for doing this – for those who got here early enough” I was immediately suspicious. What were they asked to do? Was he out before? Were the people observed putting the paper in and was it definitely empty before? Having not seen any of this I could not be at all impressed by the fact he clearly had planted the paper – a fact which became absolutely transparent at the end, tho was fairly obvious from the start. He then proceeded to drag this ‘trick’ out all throughout the first half, which annoyed me.

    I think after that he did the bit where audience members’s photos were on cards. This was nothing but a very simple card trick, and when you realise that I was not impressed one bit, knowing this is a guy who has had over 15 years of performing close up card tricks. The only slightly impressive thing he did was remembering people’s names / seat locations in the final reveal.

    There was the bit where he got people who were “right handed, with a childhood memory, not this, not that…” to raise their hands and then threw a frisbee out. I caught it. “Lucky me!” I thought – I get to go onstage and meet Derren! “Can you now throw it to someone who has their hand up” he said. “Bugger”. That said I didn’t really want to go onstage. Anyway, the girl goes up and writes something on a piece of paper and hands it to Derren. Derren then appeared to quite blantantly, to my eyes, put it into an envelope and then switch it and gave the girl back a different envelope. I did a double take and thought “Did he really just do that?” and so watched for his next move. At that moment a table used in the previous trick was being carried out by 2 stage hands and he brazen as you like just dropped the envelope still in his hand onto to the table as it was being carried out. I was stunned it seemed to be so obvious, but I guess the girl up there was disoriented. I don’t know how the info was fed back to him, but he did walk around her a lot and I have no problem thinking of a number of ways someone could let him know what they’d read. Throughout the “reading” all I could think of was whether he would let the girl keep the envelope at the end when she left, but sure enough he grabbed it off her as she was leaving the stage.

    Then the tin foil. I’m not sure how he guessed the first card in tin foil, but I’m pretty certain it wasn’t via the reflection. As I said before I’m not going to be terribly impressed by card tricks from him. I was a little more interested in the 3 items wrapped in tin foil. But then, even as it went on I thought the cut cards could easily be a rigged deck with short ‘n’ longs where you always cut to the same number. I’m sure you can also get hold of dice that transmit what number is up too. Guessing the watch was the only single thing that impressed me in the whole first half, but not a lot was made of it.

    The final bit of the first half I also thought was pretty poor. It was essentially a 10 min storytelling exercise to set the mood for the second half. The trick itself seemed to play second fiddle to creating the spooky vibe, and was fairly mediocre at the reveal – particularly as he’d already clarified the spelling of the name letter by letter when it was first shouted out, and it was soon obvious why it had to be someone from upstairs to take a while to get downstairs.

    Second half was better IMO, tho I was still not blown away – like I was at the time with the Oracle act. There appeared to be genuine psychology at play here, although it was fairly obvious that it was those people who most wanted to be part of the show who were chosen to go onstage. A few of them soon started to look a bit uncomfortable being up there and it looked like they felt silly having to play along with being ‘asleep’ / in a trance. Not sure whether the lying on chairs was done genuinely or if there were supporting rods, but it didn’t look terrible hard if you keep your body straight. The Vinegar bit was rubbish and even my brother who had bought into the rest of the show turned to me and said “it’s obviously just in the lid”. Funnily enough as the girl left the stage she said “so what was it I drank” and Derren went nervously “very refreshing wasn’t it…” and then just moved on.

    The stuff with the curtains was good and, presuming it wasn’t just done with stooges, seemed to be genuine suggestion / psychology. Only thing for me was I’m pretty sure he did exactly the same thing in the first half of Seance and even filmed the person in there making the noises / throwing the tambourine. Regarding the reopening the curtain to fool the girl inside, it would seem only a small leap to suggest there’s a massive difference when the stage lights are on you compared to when it is dark.

    I have genuinely no idea how he did the last bit of that set with the 3 people inside the curtain, just from the point of view it was such a complex move that he wouldn’t even have been able to give them all the instructions necessary to do what they did – so credit for that one.

    The final set piece annoyed me, seeing as I am of a statistical background and didn’t like him continually telling me how unlikely eveything that was subsequently going on was. Other than a few minor points with the cards, that I can’t completely remember what happened with, there were 2 things that happened…

    1) 6 stands were set up with A-F on one side and A: Egg, B: Needle etc on the other side. This subsequently leads to the order spelling ENIGMA and the song – both of which are based on nothing random at all since the stage hands put them there from the very start.

    2) 6 people picked up numbers from 1-7 (5 was excluded on our night) and stood in front of a sign.

    It was only after this happened that the cards that linked the letters to the numbers were brought out. I thought it was odd that people with big numbers on their front then needed to be given bigger cards with the same numbers on them – why not just have the pictures on the back of the original bits of paper stuck to them? Clearly people backstage matched up the letters and numbers based on the order people chose to stand in.

    Regarding the ‘chosen person’, Derren very definitely gave a nod when the number 5 cheer went up, and then said to the girl “I think it’s fairly obvious which one won, but you say the number”. However I don’t think the confetti card had a number on it anyway – that was in an envelope later – so I think he could have got away with it anyway by just not opening the envelope.

    Anyway, think I’m done now. I wrote more than I expected and it’s later than I’d hoped. I stress again that I love Derren and his work, and the fact I know it’s not real magic doesn’t take away from his skills. I just thought this show fell quite a bit short of the standard he’s set himself previously.

  5. sad little man

    This may be old news but I’ve just seen the ‘Evening of Wonders’ clips on youtube and – having read the revealing posts on this forum – I find some (if not all) of the tricks downright offputting.

    SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER

    Take the 10-pound note for example:
    - if we assume that the number on the note is somehow printed backstage after the telephone man gives his numbers – notice the strange routine in this trick whereby DB gets his big black marker from somewhere behind the notice board and gives it back again (he does it a few times);
    - notice that the last time he gets the marker is quite some time after the 6 numbers have been put on the notice board – he is asking the man on the phone to give a third set of numbers (having no marker in his hand) and leaves the member of the audience with the microphone and the telephone to carry on the conversation and then reemerges with the marker in his hand;
    - the way the clips are edited we cannot see how he approaches the notice board and the backstage but the fact that he’s got the marker again testifies to the fact that ha has just traded with somebody backstage again;
    - so the obvious conclusion is that the note is being transfered along with the marker – see how it is conveniently folded so that it is smaller;
    - so basically it’s nothing more than a reversed pickpocketing show in his trick;
    - how dissapointing!

  6. re: the watch in the tin foil in Enigma. If anyone is going to another show, could they try and notice what date is on the watch when it is revealed? I guess this might be too small to see. The obvious method for doing this trick would be to have the volunteer changing the date rather than the time – so I’m just curious if its this simple or something more devious.

  7. Just surfing for other spoilers and saw this:

    http://www.pistonheads.com/GASSING/topic.asp?h=0&f=141&t=633841&mid=0&i=80&nmt=Derren Brown ?&mid=0

    ***
    (page 5) mouk786 said

    “ok… the box is a well known prop or effect called the Malloy master prediction chest its very well made, complicated and very expensive the one Derren Brown used isn’t even modified or made specially to order. Its looks just like the regular chest available on the Molly website. A stangehand prepares the scroll in real time backstage as all the stuff is revealed by the audience throughout the show the scroll when finished gets inserted or installed by the stagehand into the table that the malloy chest sits on the chest only works in conjunction with the table/stand (like many many other illusions !) I think the table is brought on stage when he faints.. doesnt really matter that much to be honest the chest is lowered and brought onto the table
    As it engages down onto the table a mechanism injects the scroll from the table (in the leg of the table) through a flap up into the chest and into the ‘sphagetti jar’. These props are well made.. trust me. You could inspect the chest and you wouldn’t spot any ‘trap doors’ underneath.

    So the scroll gets from backstage into the chest, via the table. Very clever and you’d never think of it. Tables are for putting things on and chests only open at the lid. WRONG ! See how magic tricks so often rely on the automatic and everyday suppositions of the audience. Never take anything for granted or assume convention. the performer opens chest and voila…. inside is the scroll with all the predictions.

    as for the girl at the end, read my earlier post she is picked out before the start of the show her clothes are noted and these are written onto the end of the scroll (so the scroll can be finished before the “top psychic” routine with her starts). Brown only pretends to write a number prediction behind his back on that piece of paper. Then he asks the specific girl who has been singled out earlier for a number and whatever she calls, he adds 3 then traces that number out onto the piece of paper through the envelope when convenient and with his left hand dropped and relaxed and with the palm and envelope most likely turned away from the audience. This is a well known magic prop, fingernail wirting or the swami gimmick. He writes the number afterwards whilst its in the envelope. Imagine holding a playing card with all your fingertips but then with your forefinger you move your nail on the back of it. The pressure of the nail applies ink or carbon onto the piece of paper via the trick envelope. Brown even apologises beforehand for his bad handwriting so that the audience is not alarmed or puzzled when they see his terrible writing (its not easy writing on something with a nail whilst you hold the item with the same hand). He then asks 2 other audience members for 2 numbers just to make the selection process seem authentic. he then opens the card and voila, the number is closest to hers and her clothes and appearance and height etc.. are already safely written down on the scroll by the stagehand.”

    ***
    I’ve not been to a show but seen lots of his TV stuff and love it but I love the spoilers, esp. on the mentalism stuff as it really frustrates me not knowing……

    • nice try, but no. Notice when derren faints and the curtain closes, the box is visible in front of the curtain. The lights dim. When the spotlight goes on and derren steps out, the box isn`t there. The whole act of him mistakenly ending the show allows his (backstage) assistant to put the scroll in the box. THey then lower it back and derren says “o wait the chest” and it is lowered all the way down. Watch nad see!

    • Lots of good insight here but it is a shame. I work a little in Derren’s world, and though I know we’ll always come up with new stuff to entertain and astound the majority, it’s sad that people who do delve into methods etc feel they have to share it. I know from my own experience that an effect is never never never made more interesting or astonishing or enjoyable by knowing how it works. I miss being fooled! It’s what Derren does best – gets people intrigued and gets their brains working overtime. Good man.

  8. A June 2003 interview with Derren may also shed some light (i.e. amazing preparation, memory and execution)……..

    http://jamyianswiss.com/fm/works/derren-brown.html

    “…..
    DERREN: There certainly are my takes on some of those things. I had a sequence when I was on tour–I’m telling you the effect here–I learned the phone book for each city that I visited, and I had people throwing an object around the audience and people would stand up and call out their name and part of their address and I would tell them their phone numbers. And I’d have somebody on stage with a copy of the local phonebook verifying. And I’d describe what the pages look like. You know, you’ve got this up at the top, and then you’ve got a few of this name, and then the name after that is this, and it’s the third column and fourth down, and that thing. So that’s in a way a book test.
    …..”

  9. Hmm Sally, I’m not sure that I always believe Derren when he ‘explains’ how he did something. I seriously doubt he learned a whole different phone directory for each night of his show for a bit that would last a few minutes. There are surely much simpler ways to produce the same effect.

    • Derren says “I’m telling you the effect here”, not “I’m telling you the method here”. The two terms mean very different things. In magic, an effect is what the audience is led to believe; a method is what actually happens. He doesn’t explain this distinction in the interview because he is talking with another magician, in a magazine aimed at magicians.

  10. SallyW,

    As Andrew as just said, there is no way anybody can learn every page of the phone book.

    As Andrew also said, there are simpler ways, but also numerous ways, all depending on circumstances. It’s called a book test, but not as Derren describes it, and there are so many variations, sometimes involving a “peek” or more likely in this case manipulating the answer in the first place.

    For example, I could come into your living room and you choose any book and I will tell you words on a certain page. Easy. When you know how it’s done it’s so annoyingly easy.

    I really hope I haven’t sounded patronising, because that was not my intention.

    Jim

  11. Andrew, you are bang on. If Derren explains something, you can be 100% sure that is NOT the way it is done. He is the ultimate performer on and off the stage. The book test Jimbo is the way really. As you said, it is simple when you know how but baffling when you dont.

  12. Thanks for the reality check!

    & no not patronising answer at all. But would like to explore a bit more…..

    He must do a ‘much, much’ more sophisticated book check that the ones I’ve read about (maybe I need to do some more reading on the non-gimmick book checks – but there must be some decent memorisation going on here). I would assume he does have the ability to memorise lots of items – as he talks about these techniques in ‘Tricks’. In the phone number example that he mentions in the interview maybe he just pre-memorised the phone numbers of only the people in the audience (from the ticket sales data), or he has a hidden mic in his ear (but that would not be quick enough), or they are stooges, or he somehow manages to get only certain people to call out their names (that he has memorised the info of). Can’t see how else he does it, but am fascinated with his level of sophistication whatever way?

    Sally

  13. Just read up on book tests and watched the ‘Derren in Library’ on utube. Gawd – even knowing he had the books in his hands for many minutes it seems amazing. Can’t see how he forced the guy to a specific page each time (assuming the books were both ungimmicked – which I assume they both were?) – but I guess we dont see all the footage.

    Will keep reading up on book tests to try find one sophisticated enough that could be used here. And again not sure how a standard even sophisticated book test could be used in the guessing audience phone numbers test.

    Sally

  14. This is a good start.

    13 Steps to Mentalism by Corinda

  15. Hi David! I thought they wouldn’t be allowed to publish the lyrics I was just wondering if it replaced one of their own or it was a whole new song, but after the show I had the luck to ask Derren himself!

    And the show one:

    Recently I’ve been talking to Derren
    Leave your coat on the floor ‘cos there’s a bit more, believe me
    The pictures were picked up then the men were all mixed up
    And because of the mixture the order of pictures was random

    If one of the men swopped, the order of pictures would have been wrong
    He said that obviously the order would be an egg and a needle and then an ice-cream
    A goose and moose and apple juice, oh yeah, it’s not fair

    Correct? Anyone’s got the rest?

    Davo, amazing review, what an eyes you got! I’m jealous!!
    I too thought that the stunts were nowhere near as strong as at his last shows, but the reason for us to find them easier to figure out could simply be that we just know more as the time goes.
    Yup the mic feedback spoilt a bit as he uses a similar noise to “wake up” his subjects!
    The storytelling was for the same reason as getting the spec from upstairs: to give enough time for the engraving.
    Re reopening the curtain, what you wrote it makes a lot of sense, so now I don’t know which is better for him – to let her know when he does it so he can show the audience she’s not cheating, or to use a sack nothing shows through to make sure to hide the effects from her well!
    I’ll post a review in a minute that may have some answers for you and if you have anything more to share please do so :)

    • Saw the Enigma show last night in Birmingham and met Derren after – Nice cap Derren by the way if you are reading this.

      Brilliant show can’t wait for the next “Derren Fix” in fact I might even go again to the current show. I loved the4 bit with his mum at the end.

      “You can leave the bottle…..”

      and then McFly – which of course was mentioned right at the start of the show when Derren pretended not to know who they were.

      Nice bloke when you meet him by the way. Even got a pic too

  16. I’ve been to Reading! The show got a lot better since Chatham, and I don’t even mean that that one was bad! SPOILERS AHEAD!
    I spotted just now that the guy on the loudspeaker says “a holiday place you would like to McFly to” as an example for a favourite thing. Cialdini should have seen how people rushed down to the basket (me included) in the moment he said there were only 60 slips. This time the hamper was at the edge of the stage and at one side of it was the lady, holding the paper slips and the pencils to the front of if. I put my slip on the other side as if to write, and checked the hamper out as much I could without looking suspicious. I lifted it – it was a lot heavier than I expected – tugged on its inside covering (it was attached to the rim), then I put my hand in but I couldn’t find anything unusual. Then I saw the assistant put her hand in it as she put it on the table.
    Is it her doing the swop?
    Curiosity took over the nerves: I walked upstage and reached in to the basket to take a slip out, but I couldn’t feel none, so I had to step closer and look into it! They were all there, heaped on the opposite end my hand was. I picked one and as I turned around, a stage hand was looking at me from behind the curtain and told me to leave. Alright – I mumbled, trying not to run, dreading to be questioned (though I had an excuse ready) and sympathizing deeply with the last tour’s envelope collector who’s been through this 116 times.
    The slip was not McFly, so the assistant just puts them all on one side to get it ready for the switch. The slight setup change the next day gave me the impression that I was noticed messing with the basket, just not crossed the line that they could tell me to sod off. This time some of the pencils were on the side of the basket that was free to approach before, so now I couldn’t put my paper there. I put it in after writing FLY SWATTER! on it.
    At the Guess Who game he gave the whole pack of photos (people included are not to worry – the faces he takes the p out of are also planted, which of course doesn’t make his remarks any less funny!) to the three specs and they were allowed to keep it for at least a minute while Derren turned his back on them talking to the audience. They were to keep their chosen photo until all three of them picked one (apparently so that they won’t choose the same), then to give it all back to Derren, so I guess it’s not based on sleight of hand.
    He had a little problem with the girl with the childhood memory: after he shown to the audience the name he predicted, and asked who was with her, she said a completely different name.
    Be honest – he told her and she replied she was.
    Then he asked her if there was anyone else with her – and then she said the right name.
    I don’t know if she planned this but I think it was brilliant. She didn’t lie but simply used one more name, and I liked just as much that Derren was one better! The fact that they all happen to mention a name and especially that he dared to openly question her honesty about it makes me think that the paper asks for one. As far as the audience knows, there’s only the memory on the paper, so how the hell Derren knew a name? Wow!
    At the tin foil he says he learnt to see through it from someone whose name sounded something like Analys Vronio. After a couple of searches I found the following (I tried to put it in plain English as much as I could):
    “Voronoi diagram is a geometric construct used to analyze protein. We can imagine that we tightly wrap a tin foil around a set of points, the resulting body is formed by the tin-foil and space enclosed within.”
    Geez I never thought he was into stuff like that!
    My watch was up in the air as soon as he asked for one and he took it again – what are the odds of that! And he did three out of three again! Asking one of the specs if he had an idea how he did it is a brave move – what will he do if he gets a nice and confident “yes” reply?? Changes the subject in front of everyone?
    I wasn’t entirely correct about the medal – I thought he put the wool in through openings but there’s a flat tube through the wool and the boxes, just wide enough for the coin. This time I noticed him taking another piece of foil from behind the board holder – besides taking the medal out of it I also believe he hides the coin slide in it he removes from the box after it did its job (the little problem is that it makes it look even more suspicious: why to move the foil only to take it back where it was?). The two elastic bands on the red box hold the slide’s end in place and also shut the box after he pulls the slide out of it. What a fantastic presentation of a very simple trick.
    One more thing – while he is sitting on the chair telling the story, there’s a big moth or something like that slowly flying through from left to right, past above his head. I should think it’s a coincidence even though it consistently happened every time, but it adds so much to the atmosphere – I just thought, “oh, are spirits that small?” Anyone else noticed this? It reminded me of the rose chafers I used to pick on the way to school then let them go in the classroom – they are harmless but big and noisy and made most of my classmates scream!
    About the small spirit cabinet (if I hear it right, he calls it a headache – cephalalgia – any idea why??): he lights a candle on the top of it after he draws the curtain, that’s probably a way to put the ball in the glass somehow.
    This time I got up at the induction as it seemed to be easier than frisbee-hunting, but I didn’t get picked.
    At the demonstration with the drumstick it’s a bit of a giveaway that Derren lets the subjects know every time in advance what they are supposed to do – sure that would not be needed if he was right saying they reacted the way they did because of the somnambulistic state.
    The chair trick brought a memory up in me I thought I have long forgotten – a P. E. game at school when I was about seven years old. One mat is the van, the other one at the other end of the gym is the freezer and “frozen poultry” is to be transported from one to the other. Two kids carry a third one held at shoulder and ankles, whose job is to remain stiff and not to “defrost” on the way, and the two carriers are to be quick enough for this. It took about as long as Derren keeps the subject on the chairs, and usually nine out of ten could do it fine (I would love to see Derren’s face if someone explained this on stage as the childhood memory!).
    At the vinegar one after the audience member tested it, he first tried to pour it in the glass through the shaker part, which he then removed. This shown everyone that it poured too slow through the small holes, a good reason to take it off, and let a tiny bit of vinegar into the glass what made the trick a lot more convincing for the spec who had it and also for the audience: after Derren asked her how it felt she said “it was like vinegar but tasted water”. I think the person who tests the vinegar could easily nick the inner cap as it is left on the table!
    When Derren asked the girl in the cabinet if she rang the bell she replied yes but she said she didn’t touch it.
    At a point the guy watching the cabinet on the left suddenly jumped as if getting an electric shock.
    “Are you all right?” Derren asked.
    “Yes. I just felt a sharp pain in my bum.”
    Same at the other night: the man on the left leapt forward and said something touched him. Like with the girl in the forest, the circumstances were so it got a great reaction out of them! Besides cracking everyone up, I think its other purpose was to distract them from possibly thinking of looking behind the curtain – Derren appeared to grow increasingly nervous about this, trying his best to arrange them just further from it than an arm’s stretch!
    David, the box, (suitcase?) was on sight throughout, but of course he didn’t ask us to watch it and the pictures do indeed get in while the girl picks hers. They turned the light off above but still the curtain behind could be seen moving. Earlier Derren takes a marker pen out of it, was there anything red or yellow (whichever envelope is on top at the finale) showing in its bottom for the effect or did it look empty? I wasn’t in the angle to see it.
    This time Derren stopped the girl shuffling the pictures (marked on the back…) when the right one got on top.
    I’m not good at figures but to have all the possibilities I think they would have to handle an awful lot of pictures backstage. All the seven pics with all the seven numbers, 7×7 = 49. One picture (but the confetti which is opted out by that time) is referred by letter, so all six pictures with all six letters, 6×6 = 36. That’s 85 all in all. To reduce the risk of errors, they could just have the seven pictures, seven numbers and six letters backstage and stick them together on the spot appropriately, so for the sake of simplicity (complicated enough the trick as it is), that’ll be the way I describe it, as if they had them ready like this backstage (pictures referred by initials):

    A B C D E F
    E N I G M A C
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7

    1. Seven men go on stage, get numbered, mix up randomly, the audience votes one of them,
    backstage the assistants stick his number on the confetti picture and put it in the yellow envelope.

    2. Derren picks the confetti for him and gives it to him in the brown envelope to stand aside with it.

    3. The other six men stand to the letters and mixing up in the New Order gives the time to the assistants to
    arrange the lined up numbers in this order underneath the six pix put ready in the order to spell enigma.

    4. The girl picks a man, by letter, “to make sure she didn’t know who she picked so it is random”,
    backstage they stick this letter to the right picture, put it in the red envelope and number the other pictures.

    5. Derren forces the same picture as the girl’s choice for the man she just picked. Meanwhile the assistants
    mix the pix (so they won’t come out of the box in order), and slip them in through the curtain opening.

    The only silly bit is when he predicts his own choice with the confetti – does he think that the two boards put together makes the audience forget that it was him who picked that picture or do I get something wrong here?

  17. Sad little man, I think editing out him putting down and picking up the marker the last time is the very thing that draws attention to the move and leads people to figure it out. I can’t understand why they did that – they left in the two other times so by the third time viewers would have been desensitized to it just like the audience had been.
    Thank you for the review Matt, good take on the slates part! What do you mean with the date? The spec wasn’t asked to change it and even so, how would that change the time? Twice it was my watch used and it certainly displays no date!

  18. Rita – thanks for posting those great comments. A lot to think about.

    As for the watch thing – I though maybe Derren was choosing a watch with the facility to wind either the time OR the date on – then he could set the time to whatever he wanted as he went back on stage, and have the volunteer change the date rather than the time. But, if your watch doesnt have a date display, then that can’t be right! Back to the drawing board!

  19. Just going back through some of his old stuff, as found out all his shows are now on Channel 4′s 4OD application.

    On The Gathering, something I noticed with the girl (Debbie) giving the surname I wanted to get another opinion on…

    Clearly it’s important that she writes down the name, for him to be able to get it. He moves away then, almost as an afterthought asks her to write it down. On 12:39 (if you’re watching from the Channel4 site) he reaches out to take back the pen, even though all his previous instructions were about the paper so she offers him the paper. Now I suspect he switches her paper for a dummy piece right here in the confusion. However I’ve paused it and even though they have the camera on the two hands I can’t really make it out. In fact it looks like they may have even doctored the footage altogether as you can’t really see what’s in her hand at all.

    Then, on 13:10 when he’s talking to Reece Shearsmith, it looks (to me) quite obvious that he prepares something in his left hand and then reads it for a few seconds while he’s doing the Uri Geller impression.

    Can someone else take a look at this and tell me if I’m going insane? I can’t work out whether there was a switch done or not!

  20. Rita #584

    Just so you know, the Vinegar was indeed Vinegar. Not coke or anything else of a similar colour.

  21. Saw Enigma at the Adelphi in London last night. Kind of half guessed how a few things were done so came across this forum trying to find out if I was right! It was the first time i’d seen derren brown live and it was quite different from what I had expected having watched him on tv, much more like a conventional magic act, which was just a little disappointing. Like the trick with the audience photos – clearly just an old fashioned card trick, and the execution wasn’t even brilliant: derren was flipping over the photos far too fast and carelessly (some dropped on the floor) for it to have been anything but a card trick, giving the lie to the idea he was feeling responses through the guys’ hands on his shoulders (which is something i’ve seen him do far more convincingly on tv in the past). The whole McFly payoff at the end (he had been pretending not to have heard of them up till then which was quite funny), made it obvious that the ‘three favourite things’ card on which they had been supposedly named must have been a plant. Likewise the card he picked at random from the basket which listed ‘sandwiches, cricket and tits’ was also far too obvious a plant, and you have to wonder if it’s worth spoiling the illusion just to make a gag. Making a hypnotised girl drink vinegar was frankly a bit end-of-the-pier (the taking the lid of the vinegar bottle trick was also pretty obvious). Getting the hypnotised girl to go through the audience and pick someone she ‘felt a strong psychic bond’ with was good, she did it in a really spooky blair-witch kind of way, suddenly stopping dead still and pointing at a woman. But then having made such a big deal of the ‘psychic bond’, having her just guess how much change the woman had in her pocket seemed an anti-climax; i wanted her to name a late cherished family pet at the least. What’s a bit disspointing is that these are mostly probelms in the writing and presentation as much as anything, as if they hadn’t put quite as much effort into the feel of the show as they seem to the tv stuff.
    The end routine of matching letters numbers and pictures went a bit awry when the audience member who had to collect the set of cards had trouble opening the box they were in – which drew attention to the fact this box was at the back in a dark corner right by the curtain, which aroused suspicion. I wonder if something had got a bit stuck when then set of cards had been slipped in as described by Rita above, which made it tricky for the guy to open. Derren also fluffed the finale when he forgot to ask the man with the confetti picture to show us his card, he had to go back and do it over (he apologised). Overall I got the impression the show was a bit rushed and that maybe derren was a bit tired. His tic was quite noticeable. We still had a good time – my favourite bit was the spirt’s cage, which was very dramatic even though i had a vague memory of having seem something similar before – and Derren was funny and entertaining throughout. But I wonder if constant touring over the past few years and with only a relatively short gap since the end of the previous tour and the start of this one, the quality may have suffered.

  22. The floating table is actually a Losander Table – http://www.losander.com/Floating_Table.html

  23. I originally asked what people thought of the show and then realised I didn't actually want to read the answers before I saw the show myself. So now, about 2 months later, I've finally got round to reading the responses.

    Firstly Rita – thank you for an enjoyable and informative post!

    I have now seen ENIGMA twice and have theories about most of the tricks.

    The announcer saying "Write down your 2 favourite things…a holiday destination you might like to McFly to…" was a nice touch.

    In the first trick, the hamper has another compartment with 60 fake lists all saying "McFly, Doughnuts and Fudge". 60 pieces of paper almost get lost in the size of that hamper, which leaves ample room for another compartment. Derren spends a lot of time in the first half guessing the list of things, and I wonder why he places so much emphasis on it considering by the end of the show he's basically revealed that it was all set up.

  24. The second time I went I told my girlfriend that I had put down "Sandwiches, Cricket & Tits" as my favourite things knowing full well that was the 'joke list' Derren read out. My girlfriend's reaction was priceless.

    I think the childhood memory was read by a camera in the ceiling when the subject was writing it down. It was then relayed to Derren somehow, maybe by prompts just off stage when he asks the subject to close their eyes. The only way he can get the information is from the piece of paper that it is written on and this stays with the subject. The right-handed only request mentioned in a previous post was a good spot and something I hadn't thought about!

    • Trigger: Re, the childhood memory.

      I did that in Birmingham one night and wrote “close to my chest” in case of overhead cameras, so I reckon he uses ‘pen reading’ (see 13 Steps To Mentalism by Corinda) for that bit.

  25. The coin in the box, was clearly engraved after the name was shouted from the dress circle. He then told a story and invited the audience member down, which gave ample time for someone off stage to engrave it and wrap it in string etc. I too noticed Derren clear the foil from the stage allowing him to slip to the edge of the stage and get the ball of wool. He also pulled the cover on the box only half off to begin with, he then later loaded the wool into the back and then he pulled the cloth completely off.

    With telling the time on the watch in the tin foil, I believe Derren set the time himself, saw the time, then pushed the pin half way in. This allowed the subject to think she changed the time without it actually moving, but she didn't know this as she wasn't allowed to look at it, she then pushed the pin all the way in.
    I am however baffled by the dice, which I can only assume was a trick dice in some way?!?

    I believe both the guess whom and the card in the foil were just card tricks well presented.

  26. When in the spirit cabinet the subject had her hand on the glass and the ball mysteriously got in somehow. The glass that was used was a tankard slightly rounded towards the bottom, this allowed a there to be a ball shaped 'trap door' in the side that was easily concealable in the pattern of the glass.

    Also as soon as I saw the set I thought the back wall looked slightly odd. I believe there was a hidden door in the back of the stage which allowed someone to enter the spirit cabinet from behind. This was confirmed when in one of the performances I saw, Derren lifted the curtain over the rails and revealed a gaping hole in the back curtain, what made it more noticeable was that the lining was a different colour – school boy error I feel.

  27. Also when Derren put the 2 slates facing each other in the subject hands, he then threw some chalk in afterwards. By separating the slates we could clearly see writing on the slates before the spirits he been summoned. The slates were clearly primed. When he asked the 2 men to write a name down, he blatantly had two envelopes in his hands and switched the man's envelope with a blank one. He then put the man's envelope on the table for the stage hand to remove from the stage. The table then came back a short while later with the slates already primed with the names on.

    The automatic writing which guessed the amount of change in the audience members pocket was also written by Derren, he did this with one hand when the envelope well out of sight behind the audience member's back.

    I also agree with the vinegar trick. There was some vinegar in the lid and the rest was coloured water or something. I noticed the first time I went he left the vinegar bottle with the audience member and she tried to get some more out, but unsurprisingly she couldn't. The second time Derren took the bottle back and kept with him to avoid this happening again.

  28. As has been said, so the finale to work all Derren needed was for the envelopes in the case to be swapped. He anchored the suggestion of the envelopes early on by making reference to them in the first half. "Not these envelopes, they'll be for later". But he didn't bring them into play in the second half till well after the order had already been decided.

    I have other theories about the rest of the show, but I am conscious I've written too much already, so will stop for now.

  29. Just been reading through all of these comments.

    It seems all of you enjoyed the show a lot – but then you ruin it by desperately trying to debunk the whole thing. Some of you even claim Derren Brown is "fake" and "cheating".

    He's a magicican! He does NOT use stooges, nothing is prearranged with those who go up on stage – but of course he uses some sort of "trickery". Did you really think he was a mindreader?

    The reason people go to his shows is to be entertained – and he is the most entertaning magician I've ever seen (and I've seen quite a few). It should be clear to anyone seeing his work that the man puts a lot of time and effort info creating an enjoyable show, and making his effects remarkable.

    My point is that I just think you're ending up ruining the initial enjoyment you felt after the show. This blog is just full of people more or less going "aren't I clever, I (think I) can figure out what Derren Brown does".

    • I think people who say he’s fake and cheating mean that in the sense that they think he should be able to do his stage tricks without the help of backstage helpers.

      We are seeing Derren on stage but the key points in the tricks are not only performed by Derren but also others backstage. For example could Derren have done the serial number prediction without the use of backstage helpers?…yes probably… but the type and style of show Derren does requires the helpers.

    • I haven’t picked up that impression myself. In my view, this blog is full of people who love Derren’s tricks enough to watch his shows multiple times and spend hours conferring with other fans to figure it out. This has always been one of the pleasures of magic – the puzzle of it. It’s not for everyone, most are content to enjoy the spectacle and move on, but a few of us love having our theories and arguing back and forth. Those who do not want their enjoyment spoiled should stop reading at the point they realise what the discussion is about.

  30. Hello. Ive just watched 'something wicked this way comes' and derren uses a scale under the bowl. It is clear for all to see just check it out on 4OD. There is a 1-2cm thick silver coloured scale just like the ones that we use in the chemistry lab. They are accurate to +/- 0.01g which is waaay more than those buttons weigh. It also explains why all of the buttons are the exact same size and why they are so big. No-one has buttons that big lying around! This means that any error in the scale is less than one whole button so he cannot be wrong based on weight error. Im not joking look at the footage you can clearly see it under the bowl spesh if you pause and zoom in. Thats why he covers the bowl and you can even see the bowl going up and down slightly as the woman puts her hand in!! Those scales can work on AA batteries and can also bluetooth the results to PCs and laptops etc we have super fancy ones at uni that have mini computers inside. All the slapping and shaking the tray is showmanship!!!

  31. I am certain that when he says he's not using a stooge, he's actually using a stooge. When he says he has no hidden earpiece, he has a hidden earpiece. When he says he's not using camera trickery, he's using camera trickery.

    Everything he ever says should be taken as a lie, it's all part of the game, kind of like when Dan Brown says in the intro to the Da Vinci code that this is all based on real stuff, we know that's just a lie.

  32. Anyone looking forward to Derren’s Lottery prediction tomorrow?

    I really have no ideas how he’s going to pull it off. I’m sure he inevitably will though.

  33. hey, great thread guys.
    Really enjoy what Derren does and love watchin his shows, but equally enjoy finding out how it’s done!

    Does anyone else feel a bit disappointed with the lotto stuff? Considering it was shown at the same time by FIVE channels. ch4, E4, more4, film4 and 4music!!!

    Telling us: “I can’t show you my prediction until after the bbc has broadcast the results…. camelot regulations” COME ON!!

  34. Howdy peeps.

    I love this page and I’m so glad that there is a little corner of the web where people can discuss their theories on how Derren does the things he does.

    I have a nice little expose on one of his tricks (I’m not sure how obvious it is – but I spotted it straight away, so I don’t think revealing it is going to be much of a surprise).

    In Trick Of The Mind there is an episode where Derren manages to draw a building just by looking at the eyes of a person who is looking at it. He doesn’t know what building it is because he was blindfolded all the way there and the person chose the location themself.

    How is it done? Peasy!! Derren asked that the person choose a ‘well lit landmark’. Why?

    Because the stunt took place at night, and although Derren had his back to the building he was drawing, he was drawing on a piece of acetate (which is reflective like glass). Therefore he just traced the reflection of the building behind him. This is why it matched perfectly when held up and was also a ‘mirror image’.

    Ba-da-boom.

    Oh and I was a bit dissappointed by the lottery thing, but then again this is the real world – ofcourse a mentalist isn’t going to show the prediction until after the thing has happened.

  35. You the know the lady in the C4 show last night who still picked the parrot despite Derren’s best endeavours, we she also appears in the audience of The Evening of Wonders show broadcast on E4 a couple of hours later. NOW, that is magic.

  36. **** SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES SPOILER ****

    Oh BTW, in Something Wicked This Way Comes (which I’ve seen twice live and once televised) when he does the final newspaper prediction:

    He has always taken out a tissue to wipe his nose (apparrently because of problems from doing the nail up the nose thing) at exactly the same point.

    I was in the front row one of these times and caught him palming some torn up newspaper from his pocket. The newspaper that is given to him by the girl is either swapped, or added to. He then reveals his own pre-chosen word from a newspaper from that day.

  37. Here’s my theory for tonight’s lottery show, where he is going to show you how to do the trick at home. In my opinion, this rules out camera tricks, laser etching and inkjet printers, etc…
    He filmed 55,490 “reveal clips”. This is enough to guarantee getting 5 of out 6 balls correct. He just got lucky on the 6th.
    The programme ends less than 60 seconds after the last ball is drawn – and is rushed for very good reason, to limit the length of each reveal clip so that they can be filmed in approx. 6 months. 55490 clips would take approx 920 hours to film.
    Note that Derren is all in black, he normally appears with a coloured shirt, this is to make the switch and recording light conditions easier.
    The “teaser” for tonight’s show is a snowflake, this is a reference to the set of clips, each slightly different from the last.
    To perform the trick at home, he will upload each clip to YouTube, tagged with the first 5 numbers in sequential order, so to perform the trick yourself you wait for a real lottery draw and then load the appropriate video.

  38. So come on then…
    How did he do it?! The show was mainly misdirection, but somewhere in there under those layers must have been a clue?

    Help!!

  39. He didn’t reveal anything about how the real trick was done on the “how did I predict the lottery” show.

    It was a false explaination to misdirect people from te fact that it was really just a run-of-the-mill magic trick.

    I hate it when he gives false explainations and then accuses the charlatans of deceiving people.

    Also at no point did he sow you ‘how to do it yourself’.

    It was all a big anti-climax in my opinion and I feel short-changed.

    How does everyone else feel about the ‘big reveal’ ?

  40. obviously all of it was a trick, he didn’t expect anyone to believe that he has psychic powers, as he kept on saying.
    The fun comes from seeing the unbelievable things, and not being able to explain them, in my opinion, analysing everything that happened and explaining it all takes some of the magic away from the show.

  41. well I think the fact that noone else is in the room is VERY important.
    (he states, the reason is because he doesn’t want anyone else benefitting.. however we all know, the lotto desk closes at 30mins previous to a draw so noone can bet that close to the draw anyway)
    .
    Would this suggest there are other assistants helping in the room? Or camera trickery? Seems too shaky handleheld to suggest a split screen, but maybe it’s a carefully choreographed routine with a couple of seconds of rest on a tripod for the “switch” just after numbers are announced before the cameraman moves off again? Possible but DIFFICULT I’d say.
    .
    I hope it isn’t just an expensive technology meaning the balls could be made to show any number possible electronically? Could be though I guess. Shame if it is, but I guess technology is getting better and better all the time that maybe magic will lose it’s “magic”.

  42. OK,

    He said he would show “how he did it” NOT “how it was done”.

    Either way you say this it is another misdirection. He kept his promise and showed us what he did on the night (how he did it).
    He never revealed how the trick was done. A play on words.

    I’m with the camera trick.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=urMT8h-3qpc

    The man is a genius, anyway. He can generate all this interest… the biggest feat of all.
    Even his mouse con was part trickery. I’m sure all the number cards were blank under, and he double lifted the 4 to pick up another card below and show the mouse. OR, he pressed down to print the mouse on it, whilst carefully lifting the others not to do this (they were slightly V bent in the footage). He didn’t even predict the order as he seemed to suggest he could.

    Clever misdirection on both.

  43. hello pplz
    well i think derron brown is shit none of his things he does works on me and he just looks like a hobo !!!!!!!!! :>

  44. Hypno_performer

    Hi All,
    Just comments on the vinegar from an expert. I’m a professional Meantlist and Stage Hypnotist and have been performing for close to 6 years now. I started in stage hypnosis and now perform walkaround and stage mentalism (Derren’ stuff). There is not debate that Derren is excellent – however, the vinegar suggestion is very VERY simple hypnosis. Its a very basic suggestion that I sometimes use in shows, because it is so easy to achieve it goes in the show early and then elads to bigger stuff. It is unlikley that the vinegar is a gimick because of the fact that a vinegar hypnotism act is VERY VERY simple to achieve – If you know your hypnotism, which Derren definatly does !

  45. So, Derren isn’t using NLP or covert hypnosis to insert thoughts on the subconscious to predict thoughts?
    thank you

  46. The vinegar thing is so obviously in the cap – when he was shaking it into the glass last night in Crawley it ran out and so it was even more plain that the real vinegar was trapped in the lid when he unscrewed it.

    In terms of the Enigma trick where the person writes down a childhood memory – he puts the slip in one envelope and then reasonably obviously gives them back a different envelope. He then goes over to his box at the back of the stage and throws the pen and the envelope (with the slip contained) into the box. If you watch carefuly, you can then see the backcloth lift up (a bit like a letter box) – as the stage hand reaches into the box from behind to get the envelope. The way that Derred is told what’s on it is also simple – at least one of the two speakers facing upsatge (which we assume are just foldback speakers) actually has a TV screen inside it, onto which the stage hand can type/show the slip. If you watch Derren, he keeps on walking around the person so he can sneakily look at the screen, and the chap on stage has their eyes shut so they wouldn’t know what he was doing. Derren makes certain that when the person leaves the stage he takes the (empty) envelope off of them!

    Still not sure about the tinfoil bit, that’s the only section I couldn’t think of a really obvious answer to.

  47. remember ladies and Gentleman-the true Magic is in your mind-Derren is a consumate card magician/performer/mentalist/bullpooher extraordinaire!

    this blog is great fun and yes a lot of the info in it is correct,some of it is absolute rubbish even delusional and some of it is cheekily tongue in cheek suggested by people trying to distract people from the methodology

    but whatever Derren has earned a fortune.we have all been to see him and some of us to the different versions of his shows a few times and he is great value for money-i just wish Andy Nyman would get more credit than he does

  48. “KEEP OUT. Do not open this birthday card.
    Do not attempt to open this card.
    Under NO circumstances must you open this card.”

    I took the card off the shelf and opened it.

    “SEE. You never did do as told.
    HAVE A HAPPY BIRTHDAY!”

    I laughed out loud in the shop and thought it was so similar to Derren’s story about his granddad’s box that it might even have been the inspiration! I got to give him this card! Is there, by any chance, a show on his birthday? YES! And not even very far! Off I was to Crawley, and what a night I had!
    I was also interested to see how the show changed since last year as it keeps getting polished up on the way.
    Unlike in my previous reviews in which I wrote about as many things as I could, here I’ll pick out only a few moments were most remarkable for me – I apologise anyone who’s annoyed with that…
    Crawley seems to be a bit economical displaying street names, so I was nearly late and I could just catch the on screen notice that there would be a countdown when Derren comes in, we were to sing Happy Birthday and he knew nothing about it. The staff did a timing not any less precise than with the tricks – it worked out perfect and I wish someone filmed Derren’s reaction, it took him a while to get back on track!
    As the show started on, I noticed that, strangely, the frisbies were very attracted to me, which never happened before. The first one, after spending a split second on the balcony where Derren meant it to, hit my shoulder. I quickly grabbed it, and, unsure what to do as it wasn’t one for the stalls I stood up with it and he did ask me to throw it back to him. I nearly missed the stage – those who say he calculates who the frisbees go to should try!
    As the next ones were shooting around my head I couldn’t help thinking that it must be a matter of time to get on stage… but when it finally happened it felt unbelievable!
    “What’s your name?”
    “Rita.”
    By the time I got to the stage I was so nervous I was gripping on the frisbee I must have left marks on it, and it took me ages to realise Derren was repeatedly calling my name trying to get my attention. I finally stopped.
    “Rita, could you please throw the frisbee back to the audience and go back to your seat, I’m sorry about that.”
    Flippin’hell, he remembers me from last year! But sending me back?? Am I dangerous, or what?
    “Why?” I asked nice and loud so people could hear it.
    “Okay then, come on” he changed his mind instead of providing an explanation.
    Or it was to let me know what would happen in the future if I’m trouble – but the instigation of his ongoing general encouragement to people not to be too predictable was just one stronger.
    Being as nervous as I was it was all the more funny when he said he’d ask me to try heroin. Then he turned the cards face up showing that they were all different and in random order. For a moment I could see the Ace of Clubs at the bottom of the pack, and I was very curious to try something I’ve not yet seen: to pick the bottom card which is already level with the tin foil. I was sure that his reflective explanation was misleading and that, as usual, his actual method would be one that gets it right regardless of the spec’s choice, so I wasn’t worried when he gave my plan a permission with his “take any of the cards” wording. He’ll just talk about watching the reflection as normal, while I can have a quiet laugh knowing that this time it couldn’t have been the case.
    So I slid the bottom card on the foil and wrapped it up.
    Low value red number card, he said.
    I must have seen that ace wrong or he’ll change his mind in a moment.
    But he didn’t and it WAS the Ace of Clubs! He couldn’t have been further off!
    And as I did nothing but what I was told, he had to explain why.
    “I’ve got this wrong” he turned to the audience “and I’ll tell you why: because Rita’s been to the show before. What most people do is this” he said, picking a card from the middle of the pack and putting it on the foil “while what Rita did was this” and he repeated my move as accurately as if it was played from tape, then he explained the reflective tin foil.
    “Did you know how I did it?” he asked, presumably meaning the real explanation.
    “No” I replied, meaning that I only knew the false one – of which now I was nowhere near as convinced that it was false!
    “Let’s try this again” he said and now he was careful to ask me to pick a card “from somewhere the middle”. (I’m wondering if he permanently stuck to this wording after this night or if he did any other precautions to make as sure as possible that it wouldn’t happen again – someone from the later shows please let me know:)
    I again did what he asked and this time it was a low value red number card. The rest of the predictions of the trick were spot on as well.
    I looked at the audience; they were in quite dark, especially with the stage lights on me. This reminded me again how absurd the claims were about him picking people with the frisbies, and also relaxed me enough so I could start thinking.
    I realised I forgot that there can be other audience members too who saw the show before, especially that this one was the sixth in a row; and, knowing the explanation in advance, they’re likely to spot that now there was no chance for Derren to watch the reflection. If he still gets the card right, he just lets them know that the method he reveals is not the real one.
    So instead he spectacularly fails and catches me out, making it all the more convincing!
    I was flabbergasted how clever that was – it took me three or so minutes to work it out while he had about three seconds to plan it. He might have had it all in his head from the moment he saw me peeling off the bottom card, especially if this situation was rehearsed. I did think of doing something slightly unusual without going against his instructions if I ever got on stage (who was on about throwing a spanner in on the C4 website?), but actually doing it, getting a result I thought they would make sure not to let happen, then watching Derren up close turning it all to his advantage was an amazing experience.
    A side note – just as well I had seen the show before as there still were bits and pieces might have been spoken too fast for me to understand otherwise. When, just after having done with the second card, he turned to the audience and his back to me and told them something that was not part of the show and got a big laugh, I could only catch two words of it, “clever cow” (which is, from the point of the original expression, sounds rather like an oxymoron to me). Anyone who was there and could understand that bit please let me know what it was :)
    Meanwhile he started his serenade to the third card I wrapped up, and it was really funny when just as I thought “tell not to laugh to someone you’re doing this meowing inches away from”, he told me “especially you don’t laugh, you’re right here!” LOL :)
    The rest of the show went according to script but I couldn’t pay attention any more (or at least not to the small details I wrote about before, like, what happens to envelopes or to the curtain behind that suitcase on the table), which is a shame because there were some changes that made it better, especially in the finale, which was more compact without losing anything from it. This time one of the big envelopes was given to front row audience members earlier on – but when he asked it back at the end, they told him that they didn’t have it.
    “You don’t have it?? Where is it, then? What, you hid it outside? Why? Now it could be just any envelope!”
    After some more scolding he had them to fetch it back – I couldn’t quite understand it myself why they did it but at least it wasn’t me the only one playing up that night :) (I asked him after the show if the finale was always ok and he answered yes as I hoped :).
    Waiting outside the stage door after the show. A staff member stuck his head out to see if we were there, then went back in.
    Not only we didn’t have to wait long but Derren turned up with a cake! Then he counted the thirty-or-so of us and said it would be a very tiny slice for each but everyone was so busy chatting, getting things signed and taking photographs that quite a bit of it was left, which, besides giving me a chance to get a proper slice (it was a very sweet chocolate and marzipan cake) it also gave me an excuse to stay around.
    “Hi Rita” he said when he saw me “it was nice to see you on stage this time.”
    “Yes, thanks for letting me on… I did NOT know what would happen! I thought you’d had your ways so it didn’t matter what I did” at this point he looked a bit uncomfortable “then I thought, OMG what have I done?”
    “Oh, that’s all right… you haven’t done anything.”
    “Thanks… I did think it later that you might have got it wrong more because you was supposed to than because of anything I did.”
    Oops… he pretended not to hear this one :)
    I gave him the birthday card and said it was so spot on he might already have been given one. I got the Devil’s Picturebook signed now I had a white pen. Someone asked me to take a pic so I asked for the same in return.
    Before this night I thought about seeing one of the shows that will be filmed, just because it would be nice to have a professional DVD of a show I’ve been to and Wimbledon is not too far either, but I won’t go to any more Enigma shows. I had absolutely everything out of this one and I don’t think anything can top it.
    And if I ever catch a frisbee again and Derren sends me back to my seat, I won’t ask why :D

  49. The playing card in the foil was dropped from the show in Leicester last night… Thanks Rita :p

    All other observations: Vinegar bottle, time and date setting on watch, case next to curtain, table being swapped during routine, clear envelope swapping, long (quite dull) story for engraving, etc all noted during performance.

    I did not read this forum before the show

    I have seen Derren twice before (different shows). This one does not seem as well polished and the tricks a little more obvious. It did not leave me guessing very much as the mis-direction was rather blatent. Shame really as Derren is a great performer

  50. “The playing card in the foil was dropped from the show in Leicester last night… Thanks Rita :P”
    YOU’RE JOKING!!! :-OOO Other shows???

  51. Can anyone remember all the lyrics to the mcfly song? Ive been singing it all day (in the orginal lyrics) trying desparatley to remember what they were….its really bugging me!!!
    Oh and btw…absolutely, bloody brilliant show in Edinburgh on the first night! Best show Ive ever seen!! :D
    I think I like not knowing how he does everything…keeps the mystery alive in my mind which is how I like it! Derren Brown is a genius and an absolutely legend! Cant wait for 2 years time to go and see him again…but its far too long to wait!

  52. I went to see the show in Southampton at the end of March. It was the first time I had seen Derren live so I wasnt sure what to expect! I was impressed although I thought the end was easier to work out then it has been in his other shows that I have seen on the TV.

    During the vinegar trick a woman from the audience shouted out ‘Im her mother, dont make her do it!’ It looked like Derren visibly paused for a moment before saying back ‘dont worry, it wont harm her’, I was just wondering if this has happened on any other show? It looked real as Derren looked like he was thinking on his feet!

    I waited for Derren outside the stage door after the show and some people asked him about it and he said that his main worry was that the girl on the stage was under 18.

    I have enjoyed reading about how some of the tricks have been done but I am still unsure how he did the tin foil trick for the dice and watch!

    I enjoyed the show and I have just booked tickets to go and watch it again in Wimbolden! I want to see if I can spot the tricks now that I know what is going to happen!

  53. For Samantha…

    Recently I’ve been talking to Derren
    So leave your coats on the floor ‘cos there’s a bit more, believe me
    The pictures were picked up then the men were all mixed up
    And because of the mixture the order of pictures was random
    Yet we know from Derren the order of pictures will now stand in

    He said that obviously the order would be
    An egg and a needle and then an ice-cream
    And there’ll be goose and moose and apple juice, oh yeah
    They’re all there, there’ll be goose and moose and apple juice, oh yeah

    Derren said he’d convince you using his voodoo
    He said he’d bet he can make you choose confetti, but there’s more
    If any man have switched they wouldn’t match the lollipop sticks

    And he said obviously the order would be
    An egg and a needle and then an ice-cream
    And there’ll be goose and moose and apple juice, oh yeah
    It’s not fair, there’ll be goose and moose and apple juice, oh yeah!

  54. ” “The playing card in the foil was dropped from the show in Leicester last night… Thanks Rita :P
    YOU’RE JOKING!!! :-OOO Other shows??? ”

    Alive and well in Dublin last week. He must have fine tuned it and brough it back.

  55. Saw the new Enigma show in Birmingham last night absolutely brilliant and better in my opinion than the Mindreader event – very clever

    I met him afterwards too – Nice hat Derren

  56. Wow, what an amazing show, loved every second of it. Can’t get my head round any of the spirit cabinet. Derren, ur just brill. Really loving the song at the end too, i havent stopped singing it!!!

  57. Rudi with the hankie

    For anybody who went to the Enigma in Wimbledon last Thursday, I am the over-dressed guy who went on stage for the spirit cabinet part (was just following the dresscode – He did send us a letter asking us to “leave your jeans and hoodies at home and come in something evening and dressy” – although carrying a hankie was my own folly). Could someone please tell me what happened to the envelope containing the card on which I have written the name, after Derren took it off my hand before drawing the curtain for the final reveal? Did he leave it anywhere? More importantly, did anybody in the audience notice that he did take it off me?

    I am asking because I know how the blackboard prop work in principle, but there are many methods to know what the correct message to appear on the board should be. If I remembered correctly in the routine where the name “Jo”, written down by the other guy on stage with me was revealed, Derren never asked him to show or bring out his envelope. With me it went like this: He asked both of us to step inside the spirit cabinet, and as I was moving towards it he asked me to take out the envelope with the card in it from my pocket as if something he just remembered, and to hold it to my side with my arm down and elbow sightly bent. Then he gave the 4th board to the other guy (now standing in the middle) to hold tightly to his chest. At the time the board was definitely blank. Then the usual “hold on to the corner of the board” “make the connection” took place along with arranging the chalk and newspapers. On went the black bag over our heads, and Derren said: “lower your head and ~ just sleep”, which didn’t work at all :D. He then very quickly said to me: “I ll take this off you now” or something similar and grabbed the envelope away from my hand.

    Does he need to do that? Did he do it in previous shows? What has he done to it?

    Also – I couldn’t quite figure out how the blackboard that both the other guy (if you are reading this I am sorry but I genuinely didn’t catch your name) and myself was holding on to was swapped – swapping seems the only possibility… it could have been that the central black writing bit could be slid out from the bottom and a new part slid back into it – but if that was the case it could have caught my fingertips really badly as my hand curled over the thickness of the board to grab it quite tightly. I certainly didn’t sense any movement, but then again there were alot going on in there I could have been distracted. What alternatives are there? There wasn’t even a chalk between him and the board!

    Maybe I was hypnotised afterall…

    Afterwards I couldn’t help but wonder what would happen if I wrote the name down in Chinese rather than spelt it out. Must have been quite abit more work for whoever having to copy it onto the board! I didn’t quite want to ruin the effect, especially on the night of filming… would have been a good test though, wouldn’t it?

    Overall enjoyed the show, although as many ppl felt here and elsewhere, Enigma is probably not as impressive and fine-tuned as the few earlier stage shows Derren did. Still love his work very much – just remember he is an entertainer first, magician or mentalist second, and it is the unique package he put on the magic that made him stand head and shoulder above conventional magicians!

  58. Hi Rudi. If you’ve seen seance you’ll know in that version it’s the medium who’s actually doing the things behind the curtain while adamantly saying it wasn’t them. However from reading posts here and on another forum I’d say there must have been someone else in there with her, given that everything that was chucked over was done so quite cleanly, even the tamborine when her hands were tied reached a great height in the air and of course it was placed on her head on the final round. The girl here also seemed genuinely freaked out when her blindfold/bag was lifted and she saw what had just happended. The two guys that went in for the last bit: i believe the chalk face was already drawn on the last guys bag and when the curtain was closed it was just spun round to face the front, which if you were at the glasgow show 20/05/10 would make sense given the dude was laughing behind the curtain. In the last round the girl was holding two chalk boards held together, the name that appeared was Michelle and long enough that it had to span the two boards: I believe the name was already written beforehand and one of the boards has a false insert – with the insert attached to one board it all looks blank, when the insert with a little sleight is made to attach itself to the second board the name is now revealed. As for the guy holding the single board to his chest I have no idea how the chalk ended up on that one.

    To Rita – he did the card trick out our show so I don’t think he dropped it completely due to your deviousness. Well done on him though to use that to his advantage and explain why the trick failed giving his ‘explanation’ to how its done some credibility.

    I wasn’t too impressed with the hypnosis aspect of this show, just seamed a bit cheap and that he was hitting below par compared to his previous shows but I imagine to laymen it would seem very impressive. On that note I also think he’s ‘sold out’ a tad with the win-the-lottery and beat-a-casino stunts – derren if you’re reading this: c’mon…you can do better.

    It’s obvious he can do alot of tricks/feats using suggestions/nlp/cold reading etc (forgetting the stop on a train, woman in the woods, girl picking the giraffe in the toy store) etc and I would prefer him taking more risks like that with his live shows. When I see him riffling and spraying cards on stage (tinfoil and “guess whom”) and knowing how accomplished he is at card magic it makes me kinda switch off from the trick at the outset.

    Still, no denying he’s a showman and good at what he does. Looking forward to the televising of this one.

    P.S. the guessing the time on the watch and top face of the dice – any idea’s?

  59. Hi :)
    I’ve been reading your comments with interest.
    I was used as the Medium in the Cabinet when Enigma came to Hull in March 2010. I can assure you that I was not a stooge, and I was both shocked and delighted to be chosen to go on stage.
    Are there any questions you’d like to ask me about the experience? It might help you to work out how it was done, if you haven’t already (I certainly haven’t!).
    Sophie x

    • hi sophie when you were in the cabinet did you feel anyone moving around you at all or could you feel your self moving im so curious as to how this trick is done x

  60. most of the people who have commented here are idiots they are the sort of people who would say i was very disappointed after i met daniel radcliffe to find out that hes not an actual wizard and couldnt fly around on a broomstick at all i felt cheated

  61. Been reading these comments with great interest. I have some utterly amateur observations regarding the cabbie drawing a route trick.

    It’s interesting that the route he draws starts at Buckingham Palace, very near to the offices of Channel 4 (where possibly he could have asked the “specially invited” cab drivers to gather). Despite being in a blacked out bus the cab drivers would have had an instinctive knowledge of where they were being driven from their many years of driving the streets of London. I believe the cab driver drew the route which they were driven on in the blacked out bus to the theatre where the trick was performed. Therein lies the suggestion. From that it would be easy to deduce the cost of the trip.

    Just an idea.

  62. Hopeless -

    I think people who say he’s fake and cheating mean that in the sense that they think he should be able to do his stage tricks without the help of backstage helpers.
    We are seeing Derren on stage but the key points in the tricks are not only performed by Derren but also others backstage. For example could Derren have done the serial number prediction without the use of backstage helpers?…yes probably… but the type and style of show Derren does requires the helpers.

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  65. And this is what most people come to see.

  66. Sadly,I have grown tired of the tv shows.Plus tours.Reason being,mentalism as an art.Which has been around for decades.Is now becoming nothing more than a puzzle.You very clever people on here have got very close to the answers to the effects.I am a mentalist,near 20 years experience.Sadly I have seen my hero David Berglas,best effect.Turn up at the end of a Derren Brown tour.The effect at the end, was invented by Mr Berglas,many ,many years before.Not the same mechanics but very close.Nlp,psycology etc forget it.Do not bother to study it.The answers are not there.Im very upset that a lot of people have gone down that route for no reason.Magic in the u.k. became stale, sawing a woman in half etc.Derren was a breath of fresh air.But now i think full circle has come.Magic from artist like dynamo etc, has become popular again.Mentalism is not a puzzle it should be a surreal experience, go see Luke Jermay if you can.He will really freak you out.As it should be,mentalism should be the best rollercoaster ride.Not a puzzle.

  67. How do you utilize the house and at what time of the day? If the house must work right all through the day, then various different ranges of lighting can be appropriate.

  68. Thomas Leyland Torr

    I love all his stuff and i think trying to figure out his tricks just make it more fun. Regarding the Mcfly thing: right at the beginning of the show he says: “a holiday destination you most like mcfly too.”

    I don’t know if NLP works or not, but why would he say that if the paper was planted in the beginning? just to tease everyone?? If nlp does work, then the phrase, “You most like mcfly” seems to be the way he planted the idea.

    • it’s called a red herring. derren relies on people buying into his profile as a ‘psychological illusionist’ for his tricks to have any merit or interest.

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