Derren Brown: The Specials is a thirteen-strong wide-reaching collection of episodes that fall outside his other television series.
The episodes are generally highly critically acclaimed and each features Brown twisting the truth and manipulating his subjects (and his audience) to entertain, thrill, and sometimes humiliate them. The most recent instalment was 2018’s Sacrifice, made for Netflix.
Where to watch Derren Brown: The Specials?
Derren Brown: The Specials isn’t on Netflix, but you can watch it on All 4. Alternatively, you could purchase the full DVD box set.
What is Derren Brown: The Specials about?
In The Specials, Brown tricks participants into believing impossible things such as that he has a fool-proof system that reveals the future results of horse races or that he has powers in alien abduction or Christian evangelism. He also drives his subjects to behave in ways they never thought they would, whether it’s taking control of a plane when the pilot has been incapacitated – despite not knowing anything about how to fly a plane – or committing an armed robbery of a security van.
The specials include stunts such as playing Russian Roulette and most recently, putting a white supremacist’s conscience to the test by creating a situation in which he must choose whether or not to give his life to save that of an illegal immigrant – with the twist that before the test, he was subject to a fake medical procedure that supposedly increased his empathy and bravery.
Derren Brown himself is a British illusionist who uses his skills in psychological manipulation and showmanship to entertain the public and to expose the fraudulence of the so-called supernatural powers of faith healers, mediums, and others. Born in Croydon, he studied Law and German at the University of Bristol where he developed his passion for illusion and hypnosis after seeing his first hypnotist show. He then began performing under the name Darren V. Brown, and with the help of the magician Jerry Sadowitz, he landed his first television show with Objective Productions, Mind Control, which was a huge success. Almost 20 years on, his television shows remain hugely popular.
The most recent special was Sacrifice, released on Netflix (2018), and before that it was Pushed to the Edge (2016), The Great Art Robbery (2013), Fear and Faith (2012), Apocalypse (2012), Miracles for Sale (2011), Hero at 30,000 Feet (2010), The System (2008), The Heist (2006), The Gathering (2005), Messiah (2005), and Seance (2004).
The first ever episode, and perhaps the most controversial, was Derren Brown Plays Russian Roulette Live (2003), which was criticised because of the significant risk of death posed to anyone who tried to replicate Brown’s stunt, which was, of course, fake.