The Experiments

Derren Brown: The Assassin

Series 1 - Episode 1 Derren Brown: The Assassin



The start of a new Derren Brown series can be like the launch of a new Apple product: shrouded in secrecy, generously hyped, and followed by heated debate between fans and sceptics.

Brown’s latest attempt to manipulate some poor guinea-pig’s behaviour looks to be shot through with more than the usual controversy: the first programme will, he says, culminate in “the staged public assassination of a celebrity”. Yes, it’s The Manchurian Candidate re-cast as Friday-night entertainment.

Brown is a one-off and his experiments in suggestion are eye-opening (his programme debunking faith healers was a minor triumph), although sometimes what he claims in the way of psychological insight goes beyond what ends up on screen: in the end, it’s showbiz not science, but none the worse for that.


The illusionist investigates whether somebody could be hypnotised into killing a celebrity as part of a series of large-scale social experiments that aim to illustrate how easily people's behaviour can be manipulated. Using tricks, suggestion and stunts, he explores what makes members of the public tick and how they react to different situations.