Number 172 - 11th October 2003


Derren Brown's brilliantly constructed 'Derren Brown plays Russian Roulette Live' show, shown on Sunday evening as part of Channel Four's Magic Month (now there's a clue if ever there was one) generated incredible press coverage, before, during and after its screening.


Essentially this was "one trick" performed to perfection by master mind manipulator Derren Brown. During the 50 minutes that led up to the actual Russian Roulette sequence Derren used a number of cleverly constructed elimination tests to whittle down the hundred hopefuls, from the thousands that originally applied, who wanted to load the actual bullet, to one. As the programme neared completion and we were left with a final member of the public who was going to load the gun the show "went live" (with a short time delay) and the tension was very real. Derren pulled the trigger five times, got it right (including a nice theatrical 'twist' near the end) and it was all over.


Even before it went out the press coverage had been amazing. Early on the question of "good taste" was raised. In a feature article in the BBC's Radio Times Alison Graham seemed to think that Derren might actually kill himself on live TV... and wrote "this is a depraved and tawdry teasing of its audience's basest instinct - to see another person die." There I was thinking it was "showbiz" - far preferable to just 30 minutes of the BBC's Eastenders I would have thought, which portrays guns and violence as part of normal every-day life and goes out at 7.30pm for "family" viewing and doesn't warn the audience that it is "depraved and tawdry."


In actual fact the press coverage was both positive and negative (look at the Daily Star headline above from Tuesday 7th - cor what a corker! ) but if there's truth in the old adage that "all publicity is good publicity" then I am sure that Derren is more than happy overall. I thought it a shame that the whole question of "blanks" came up and that more hadn't been done to protect some of the shows secrets. It was rather ironic that Objective Productions, who produce "Secrets of Magic" and "Psychic Secrets Revealed," were now being "exposed" themselves (Police expose Derren Brown hoax - the Guardian on Wednesday). Derren's performance was first class though, as was the production of the entire show. Here are some more news links. 11.10.03


Was it a hoax? The Sun Monday 6th

Riveting finale to Russian roulette stunt BBC News Tuesday 7th

Is there any evidence mind-reading works? BBC News Tuesday 7th

Roulette gun stunt 'a hoax' BBC News Tuesday 7th

Russian roulette stunt was a sham Guardian Tuesday 7th

Roulette gun fired blanks Evening Standard Tuesday 7th

Brown 'would never have killed himself' Guardian Wednesday 8th

"Russian roulette" man thrilled to be called fake Reuters Wednesday 8th

The great pretender Guardian Thursday 9th

Mum defends son's Russian roulette stunt IC South London Friday 10th


Superstar illusionist Roy Horn remains in critical condition at University Medical Center the Las Vegas Review Journal reported on Thursday. "There have been no major developments in his condition other than to say that he is clearly getting stronger and improving," MGM Mirage spokesman Alan Feldman said. Feldman called inaccurate one news report that said Horn was sitting up while receiving visitors Thursday at University Medical Center. "I don't know where that information came from," Feldman said. "It just simply isn't true. This is not someone who is going to get up and walk out of the hospital today." Las Vegas Review Journal. Siegfried talks on CNN: Click Here. 11.10.03


This week, Peter McCahon, Magic Circle member and star of TV's Monkey Magic, headlines an advertising campaign for supermarket giant Kwik Save by sawing 'page 3' model Jordan in half. Jordan was sawn in two as part of Kwik Save's promotion to cut the prices of their leading lines in half. The illusion was created by Neil Martin and Scott Penrose. Peter recently signed exclusively to Neil Martin's company, NMP Management. "Peter McCahon is an extremely talented performer having already made numerous television appearances this year as well as being constantly in demand at corporate and private events. I am looking forward to working with Peter to develop both his television career and live appearances." Said Neil. 11.10.03 is a brand new online magic shop set up by Peter Day from Bristol. The site is growing daily with new products being added every two weeks. "We aim to eventually stock all kinds of magic from cards to coins to sponges, together with videos, DVDs and books. We sell overseas as well and postage is free on UK orders over 40. Orders are sent the same day, or the next working day at the latest." Visit: today! 11.10.03


The finalists for the Young Magicians Club Junior Day stage and close-up competitions to be held on Sunday October 19th at The Magic Circle have now been announced. The close-up finalists are: Owen Daniel from Norfolk, Hugh Stacey from Ashford Kent, Steve Dela from Shropshire, Troy von Scheibner from London, Fergus Flanagan from Tunbridge Wells and Bobby Lewis from Westerham, Kent. The stage finalists are: Jonathan Shotton from West Malling, Hugo Hadlow from London, Jonathan Ash from Hertfordshire, Steve Dela, Josh Miller from Cambridge, Michael Jordan from West Yorkshire and Oliver Lavery-Farag also from London.


Tickets are 5.00 for members (quote your membership number) and 8.00 for non-members (under 18). Cheques or postal orders made payable to "The Magic Circle Youth Initiative" should be sent together with an SAE to: YMC J Day 2003 Tickets, The Young Magicians Club, Centre for the Magic Arts, 12 Stephenson Way, London NW1 2HD. The last day for processing applications will be Tuesday 14th October and no tickets will be sold on the day itself. YMC Chairman, Roy Marsh, said "Last year's winners, Paul Dabek (stage) and Chris Harding (close-up), will perform their winning acts, which last year resulted in them appearing on BBC TV's X-Change programme in a half hour live broadcast. We will also be treated to a Gala Show featuring some of the most respected names in magic. It promises to be another great day of magical entertainment." 11.10.03


The Edinburgh Magic Circle Day Of Magic 2003 will take place on Sunday 19th October. The venue is the Pleasance Cabaret Bar, The Pleasance, Edinburgh (near Queens Park) and doors open at 10am. Lecturers: Paul Hallas (photo) and Paul Gordon. Dealers: Paul Brignall, JB Magic, Natzler Enterprises, PH Marketing. Features: Children's Close-up Competition, Children's Stage Competition and a Gala Show. 11.10.03


On Tuesday 4th November 2003 a special show is being staged in tribute to magician Len Blease at the West Cliff Theatre, Clacton on Sea, Essex at 8pm. Starring: Alan Shaxon (President of The Magic Circle), Graham P Jolley (photo), Andy Leach, (Royal Variety Show performer), Richard Leigh's illusions, Dain Cordean & Phil Butler, Michael J. Fitch, and compere Mike Austin plus a very special Top of the Bill to be announced. Tickets 6 (conc. 5). Available from the Box Office: 01255 43 33 44. Profits to Charity. 11.10.03


Six top magic dealers will be performing and then selling their exclusive magic products from 8pm at the Manchester Circle of Magicians, Salford Masonic Hall, The Crescent, Salford, Nr. Manchester on Monday, October 20th. Dealers: Castle Magic, Albion Magic, Hocus Pocus Magic, Peter Diamond Magic, Bradford Magic Studio and Classic Magic. Members free, visitors 3.00. More information from Derek Lever, telephone: 01253 810113 11.10.03


More dates have just been added to the Derren Brown - Live! tour for 2004. See What's On or visit for details. 11.10.03


Last Sunday's first television outing from Stuart MacLeod and Barry Jones in the shape of a new three part series Magick certainly had its moments. Visually and graphically it worked very well, with some excellent post production work and a near perfect sound track with clever use of sound bites throughout. Stuart and Barry did their thing and did it well enough, but the material was often ill-chosen. Instead of focusing on the arty and the bizarre, such as the sequence with a mouse in a beer glass, or the mental patient mulling over his pills, everything was made in what seemed like an effort to shock. There was the production of "a starving African child," the secret depositing of a razor blade in a supermarket ready meal, "magic tricks" with joints and syringes... and so on. But it didn't shock, it simply looked like it was trying to shock. Stuart and Barry clearly have something here, but what a shame that the whole project had to be 'dumbed down' to such a base level. TV Magic. 11.10.03


Want to have your mind read? Thanks to Alex Crow for sending through this clever mind-reading link, courtesy of Fido: Click Here. 11.10.03


The shocking news of Roy Horn's injuries will have impacted on everyone who saw Siegfried & Roy's live show I am sure. Keiko and I, together with jugglers Sorin & Kyra, saw the show just once in 1994 at The Mirage - it lived up to and exceeded all expectations. By chance after a long wait for tickets, that included the possibility that the show was going to be sold out anyway, we managed to get four tickets. However it wasn't until show time that we realised that we'd ended up with the best seats in the house. We were literally sitting right in the front (not in the cut-outs). At one point towards the end of the show Siegfried & Roy went along the front shaking hands with audience members and when Roy came to Keiko he said with a twinkle in his eye, as he shook her hand, "konichiwa" ("hello" in Japanese). The duo toured Japan in 1988. I remember thinking "two shows a night for 25 years and he's still having fun." In the middle of all the razzmatazz of this vast spectacle Roy had time for a line for someone in the audience. It added a little something special to the whole experience. Let's hope he makes the best possible recovery Next week: David Blaine's out! See you then, Duncan. 11.10.03