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Derren Brown - Speaker

Derren Brown - After Dinner Speaker, Mind Reader

Derren was born in 1971 in Croydon. It was a difficult birth: his mother was in Devon at the time. A precocious and puzzling only child for some years, he liked to paint, foster obsessive habits, and once set fire to a neighbour's boat by accident. Later, after his brother was born, Derren went to study Law and German at Bristol University and fell in love with the city. This was still at the time when marriages between man and city were frowned upon, so rather than risk public derision, Derren decided to just live there after graduating and vowed never to leave. During this time he didn't have two pennies to rub together, which was a shame as it was his only way of keeping warm. He began to perform magic in bars and restaurants, and gave occasional hypnosis shows.

Meanwhile he continued to paint unflattering portraits of the rich and famous.In 1999 he was asked by what was then Channel 4 to put a mind-reading programme together for people's televisions. A year later, Easter 2000, at ten in the evening, Derren and his family gathered round a fuzzy grey picture on the corner of their living room. It was of the once popular actress Nerys Hughes, and this had become something of a festive tradition. Later in the year, at Christmas, 'Derren Brown: Mind Control, with Derren Brown' quite literally aired. It was an immediate success, and gained Derren a cool, underground kudos which he described as "not enough".

Mind Controls 2 and 3 followed, then a series, then a brief spell in prison, and then in October 2003 Derren caused an international furore with 'Derren Brown Plays Russian Roulette Live'. This secured his notoriety with the public and his big apartment in London. "Bristol can shove itself", he said.The Seance followed soon after, which was Derren's first look at the area of spiritualism and paranormal phenomena, and the first show where his intelligent scepticism could be expressed. Derren says of the show, "By now I was properly famous and could pretty much buy whatever I wanted". Further specials have followed, including 'Messiah', which took him undercover to the US to see if leaders in paranormal belief systems would wrongly endorse him as the real thing.

Since then he gets several letters of complaint a week from psychics and Christians. He is sensitive to everyone's objections, but knows that at least the latter group will forgive him. His workload keeps him exhausted and irritable 52 weeks a year, and he continues to live in London with a large collection of taxidermy and two rather fatalistic parrots, where he spends any free weekends painting.