Derren Brown: Pushed to the Edge – how does it work?

The illusionist has set himself a big challenge: to see if someone can be manipulated to push another human being to their death…

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What is Derren Brown: Pushed to the Edge all about?

It’s no big deal this new experiment. No big deal at all. It’s just Derren Brown seeing if someone can be manipulated into pushing a human being to their death. See, no big deal. 

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How is it set up?

Brown ran several preliminary tests to find his ideal candidate – someone who showed signs of responding to social cues and suggestion – and in the end settled with 29-year-old Chris Kingston.

Tech-loving businessman Chris is led to believe he’s attending a posh gala launch for new charity ‘Push’. But with the help of special effects, stunt coordinators and a crew of 70 actors, the entire evening is orchestrated to get Chris to the point where he may – or may not – push someone off the roof of a building. The spotlight here is firmly on ideas of peer pressure and social compliance.

Chris has no idea it’s being filmed. In fact, he thinks he’s been turned down after applying for ‘a Derren Brown show’.

The night begins with mislabelling meat-filled sausage rolls as vegetarian, and very quickly spirals from there…

Who are the guest stars?

Brown’s called on some famous friends to add gravitas to his swanky launch. David Tennant, Martin Freeman, Stephen Fry and Robbie Williams are among those featured in a promotional video for the fictitious Push charity.

They know it’s not real (the famous faces are very much in on the whole thing) but their repetitive insistence to do ‘whatever it takes’ helps build to a heart-pumping crescendo.

Does it work?

You’re left, as is often the case with Derren Brown, feeling uncomfortable.

You question yourself, you question Chris, you question the various other candidates who were also put through the experiment. Heck, you’ll be forever questioning vegetarian canapés.

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And finally – what time is Derren Brown: Pushed to the Edge on TV?

Tuesday 12th January at 9pm on C4.