Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Amazing Stunts. or Is It All in My Mind?

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Amazing Stunts. or Is It All in My Mind?

Article excerpt


STAYING IN Derren Brown: Trick Of The Mind/Have I Got News For You 9.30pm, Channel 4 / 9.30pm, BBC1

THERE is really no need for Derren Brown to stage bonkers stunts involving seances or playing Russian roulette - he is at his most entertaining when in public-baffling, "Eh? What? How did he do that?" mode. Unless, of course, he isn't really that much cop, and in fact used advance copies of his new show to transmit subliminal messages in order to make me think he is a great artiste.

Now I'm confused. And you might well be, too, watching the mindcontrol expert perplexing the public with what he describes as a fusion of "magic, suggestion, psychology, misdirection and showmanship".

Brown kicks off the series by visiting Cardiff and guessing how much money people have in their wallets purely by asking them seemingly innocuous questions. He will give them [pounds sterling]100 if he is more than 50p away from the actual total; of course, the money stays snugly (smugly?) in his pocket while the punters are bemused. Of course, it is easy to say the success of Brown's tricks could be down to clever editing (a disclaimer at the start of the show says no stooges were involved).

But we are also shown a scene where the guess-what's-in-the-wallet routine fails, and he has to hand over [pounds sterling]100. Is that Brown admitting an imperfection, or a double-bluff in the selective-editing department, making us think he is honest?

Brown might have to harness all his public-influencing power, though, if he is to attract viewers from a new series of Have I Got News For You, the quiz show that has defied post-Deayton expectations by remaining consistently funny. Tonight's chairman, Jeremy Clarkson, should ensure that plenty of sarcasm enters the proceedings (and possibly a few of his trademark farfetched metaphors).

Other guests are Germaine Greer and Danny Baker.

Although surely it doesn't matter how well HIGNFY performs - Derren Brown will not only have already predicted his own ratings, but will have had a chat with Channel 4's management so they know what to expect.

Around The World In 80 Treasures

9pm, BBC2

Around the World? Around the schedules, more like.

This show has been broadcast on Mondays, but the latest episode finds itself in the Timewatch slot on a Friday night.

Anyway, in part nine of his odyssey, Dan Cruickshank (below) visits Turkey, Russia, Poland and Germany.

In Turkey, he meets a bloke who collects women's hair, and keeps thousands of locks of the stuff in a cave. Cruickshank is clearly disturbed. "This is absolutely appalling... I mean, absolutely wonderful," he says, hurriedly.

Luckily, he soon arrives in Istanbul where his spirits are lifted by a snack of lamb's brains, which he compares with testicles. …

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