Derren Brown returned to Channel 4 to celebrate his television career with a special, 20 Years of Mind Control – Live, featuring a special stunt with two oblivious members of the public, friends Rihanna and Tameeq.
The two fans were chosen at random and driven to the studio to play live his “favourite” nail-in-a-secret-cup trick, based on the classic “shell game”.
Which cup did Tameeq place the nail under? It had to be red, that’s what all the subliminal messaging throughout the show had been leading up to, right?
Everyone's been tweeting about "red nail" all night. Now there's a chance of a nail being under a red cup. #DerrenBrown
— Karl Downey ???????????????????????????????????? (@Karl_Downey) August 16, 2020
Brown’s powers of suggestion remain undimmed, which many watching the two-hour special commented about on social media.
#derrenbrown yo she chose blue then red and red is in position 1
— Angelica Bunting (@Jelly_TTBunting) August 16, 2020
As the stunt played out, Brown slammed his hand down on the blue, then the green cups. He admitted at his relief that the stunt and the subliminal messaging had worked out and then explained the ruse to his two guests.
The special had included subliminal red, nails and number one imagery all the way through it and key images had been placed at various points on the women’s journey into the TV studio. The production team had even created a special TV ad for a new nail polish, “Red One”, to hammer the message home.
Some viewers thought the subliminal messaging was a bit too obvious. But when you’re risking doing grievous bodily harm to yourself, perhaps it’s understandable to go heavy on the safety side.
Great show even if the red nail number 1 cup subliminal info was a little too obvious and made the final act a little anticlimactic.#DerrenBrown#20YearsofMindControl#Channel4#NowWatching https://t.co/BCLSHh4kSb
— Bᵢₘ (@11122X) August 16, 2020
Some viewers were onto him from the start, like this one. “I see you,” she posted.
I’m living for the fake adverts in this #DerrenBrown special. All the red featured and the repetition of the word nail, the “dodgy interference” I see you.
— Mel (@MelissaBanks_) August 16, 2020
Some viewers wondered if everything in Brown’s television career had been leading up to this point.
— ????☀️TheSunnyOne☀️???? (@TheSunnyOne2) August 16, 2020
What was it about the “nail” that was so suggestive?
I have a strong urge to buy a lot of nails for some reason! #derrenbrown
— Harry Patches (@Patch221596) August 16, 2020
Fans have always wanted to understand the powers of suggestion that mark Derren Brown out as an unreal entertainer. This woman was on to him from the beginning.
Whatever #derrenbrown trick is the answer is red. Red cup, red taxi, red umbrella….
— kay james (@kaywitherington) August 16, 2020
Others were anxious that Brown’s “suggestions” were leading them up the wrong path.
If all this red/1/nail stuff turns out to be a red herring I will be so mad #derrenbrown
— Natalie (@NatalieDawns) August 16, 2020
She need not have worried. Brown delivered on the promised stunt as the show cycled through many of his greatest experiments and TV events.
Some viewers felt a bit letdown by the trick, as a celebration of his 20 years on screen.
20 years of #derrenbrown and he does a trick with a cup. I was expecting something a bit more exciting than that.
— James Warrender Books (@WarrenderBooks) August 16, 2020
But others were emphatic about why they’ve kept watching his ground-breaking, mind-bending shows.
@DerrenBrown what a brilliant show as usual! You nailed it!
— iliko (@iliko) August 16, 2020
This man posted about his firsthand experience of the Derren Brown phenomenon.
Reckon I am the least suggestible person ever but #DerrenBrown once got me onto the stage randomly at a show of his and “read my mind” Truly weird!
— Peter Wanless (@PeterWanless) August 16, 2020
While this man was just grateful for his career: “A wonder of a mind, artist and showman, and thoroughly lovely chap as well.”
Amazing look back at 20 years of @DerrenBrown tonight on C4. A wonder of a mind, artist and showman, and thoroughly lovely chap as well. ????
— hamish blair (@hamishblair82) August 16, 2020
Derren Brown: 20 Years of Mind Control – Live was followed by a repeat of his favourite TV stunt, Apocalypse, which was chosen by the public.
Or was it? We didn’t notice a public vote. Was this just another example of his ability to confuse and suggest?
If you’re looking for more to watch, check out our TV guide.