Derren Brown “nails it” with Channel 4 viewers as he recreates his favourite trick live

The master of suggestibility recreated his nail-in-a-cup trick live.

Derren Brown

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?

Brown’s powers of suggestion remain undimmed, which many watching the two-hour special commented about on social media.

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.

Some viewers were onto him from the start, like this one. “I see you,” she posted.

Some viewers wondered if everything in Brown’s television career had been leading up to this point.

What was it about the “nail” that was so suggestive?

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.

Others were anxious that Brown’s “suggestions” were leading them up the wrong path.

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.

But others were emphatic about why they’ve kept watching his ground-breaking, mind-bending shows.

This man posted about his firsthand experience of the Derren Brown phenomenon.

While this man was just grateful for his career: “A wonder of a mind, artist and showman, and thoroughly lovely chap as well.”

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.