MediaGuardian.co.uk © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2003, 5/14/03: Channel 4 is to test the limits of taste and decency with a televised game of Russian roulette in which psychological illusionist Derren Brown will attempt to avoid shooting himself in the head.
The program is part of an exclusive two-year deal Brown has signed with Channel 4, which will also include a live seance special and a second series of his Montreux award-nominated show, Derren Brown: Mind Control.
In the Russian roulette special Brown will choose a member of the public to load a real bullet into a pistol and will guess which of the six numbered chambers it is in. He will hold the gun to his head and, when the chamber he believes contains the bullet comes round to the barrel of the gun, Brown will fire it away from himself.
"It's just going to be me, the other person and a gun in a bunker," said Brown. "If you put six items on a table and asked someone to pick one, I can always work out which one [they chose]. As long as I don't think about the gun [I'll be OK]. I'm just going to have to get used to guns before I do this."
For the live seance special, viewers will be encouraged to hold their own seances at home while Brown conducts his in the studio.
Brown said he was trying to debunk the myths surrounding seances rather than encouraging people to become involved in the occult.
"People at home will be able to join in. It's going to be very interactive," he said. "But I don't believe it's a spiritual thing. I just see it as a more scientific, psychological thing."
The two specials will be broadcast as part of a Magic Month season.