Derren Brown has masterminded some incredibly controversial stunts during his career and has made his name with his divisive TV shows: you can’t help but watch but spend much of the programme with your hands over your eyes. Is it entertainment or torture?
During Brown’s new TV project, one-off psychological experiment Pushed to the Edge, he will aim to persuade an unsuspecting member of the public (who has been named as 29-year-old Chris Kingston, who had previously applied to be on the show) to push another person to their death.
Kingston is invited to a charity auction where actors create a dramatic scenario which leads to a life-changing decision on the venue’s rooftop.
Brown’s motivation behind this experiment is to test the powers of social compliance and determine just how much ordinary people can be persuaded to carry out abhorrent acts.
“There’s this dissonance that springs up between what your values are and what you find yourself doing,” said 44-year-old Brown. “So whether or not he pushes the guy off the roof in the end, doesn’t say anything about his internal values.”
“One of the things I often find when people watch these shows is often people say: ‘Oh, it’s all fake, it’s all set up’, because they don’t think that they themselves would act in that way in that situation. Because we’re all very aware of what our values are, and what we think we’d do,” continued the award-winning mentalist. “But we forget that what overwhelms that — then those values becomes irrelevant at the end. The social situation is much more powerful, ultimately. (sic)”
Watch the trailer for Pushed to the Edge below:
It was reported in The Guardian today that Ofcom is investigating Brown’s feat on another show, which was broadcast on UKTV’s Watch channel on Dec. 6, when he put a plastic bag over his head and appeared to suffocate himself. Because it aired before the 9 p.m. watershed children may have been watching Something Wicked this Way Comes, witnessing the illusionist restricting his breathing through self-asphyxiation, walking barefoot over broken glass and saying the word “fuck” several times.
Derren Brown: Pushed to the Edge is on Channel 4 on Tuesday, Jan. 12 at 9 p.m.