Derren Brown reflects on TV career ahead of live Channel 4 stunt: “I was always ill-prepared”

The illusionist has revealed his favourite stunt from the past two decades.

Derren Brown

Derren Brown has spoken about his 20 years in TV and some of his favourite mind-boggling moments ahead of his brand new stunt, airing tonight on Channel 4.

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Speaking to Channel 4 about the first time he appeared on screen in 2000, the illusionist said that it took some time getting used to seeing himself on camera.

“I’ve learnt a lot about what’s involved in filming: I was always ill-prepared, forgetting props and felling out of my depth. I just did what I was told but had no idea what was going on.”

He also revealed that his favourite stunt from the last two decades has been his 2012 special Apocalypse, which saw him convince a “lazy” man that he had woken up to a zombie outbreak.

“It was so huge and ambitious, so emotional for us all to go through,” he said about Apocalypse. “But I’m so fond of all of them, as they conjure up very intense and moving memories.”

He added that Apocalypse was the most challenging show to make, saying that he had to re-write the two-part special after the first day of filming. “We rewrote the second half of the show at 3am after the first day, when we realised that we needed to lose on of the characters to help Steven, our mark, grow and step up.”

Brown continued: “So, we changed the plot and introduced a wife who would return and take him away, infecting him in the process, and then had to feed that plot change to the actors through their ear-pieces. That’s a big ask for everyone.”

Teasing his upcoming Channel 4 special – 20 Years of Mind Control: Live, the illusionist said audiences should expect an “older, balder version of that goateed minx”.

“I’m going to do a live ‘thing’, and there’s a lot of clips and me talking about myself. And surprises. I like them.”

He added that he hopes people will take away “vague memories of things they saw in their childhood” from the special.

I remember the first time I heard ‘I used to watch you growing up’, and it still sounds odd. So, for many it’ll be nostalgic – it certainly was for me,” he said. “Although I tend to cringe at anything I’ve done or said more than 10 minutes ago, there’s some stuff in there though that I am proud of. It was lovely going back through it all.

Brown’s TV comeback, airing tonight, will see the illusionist celebrate 20 years on Channel 4 with a brand new stunt filmed live as well as a look-back at some of his “most jaw-dropping” moments over the past two decades.

Last month, Brown announced on Twitter that he was looking for someone living in London in mid-August for a “fun TV project“. While he did not specify what the TV project was, it’s possible that he was recruiting for tonight’s live special.

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Derren Brown – 20 Years of Mind Control: Live airs tonight at 9pm on Channel 4, followed by Derren Brown’s Greatest Stunt at 11.10pm. If you’re looking for more to watch, check out our TV Guide.