Derren Brown: The Great Art Robbery

“Oh! what a tangled web we weave,
When first we practice to deceive.”

Walter Scott

Oh yes.

He’s back.

And this time, the mind magician is stealing a £100,000 painting from under its owner’s very nose. Literally, in fact. With the help of four elderly people who have in all probability never done anything worse in their lives than “accidentally” go home with a pen from the stationery cupboard.

Brown claims he’s trying to change our perceptions of elderly people, but we all know this is a lie. Really he’s just doing what he always does, which is impress people, and perhaps freak them out just a tiny bit.

And this leads quite nicely into the Moral of the Story (otherwise known as Rule One), which is: Derren Brown lies. All the time. Are you telling me, really, that he couldn’t have informed the local police that, by the way, a film crew are going to be graffiti-ing this wall? Of course not. And are you telling me that any stunt designed by Derren Brown could possibly go wrong? Even if it is executed by upstanding, honest citizens? Of course not.

We know this. And yet we get fooled every time. Despite the fact, and this is the really good bit, that he told us exactly what he was going to do. There I was, thinking smugly, “I know Rule One! No-one can fool me! I know exactly what Derren Brown is doing!”, right up until the point when it inevitably turned out that I knew nothing. Because, in spite of all the warnings and hints, I, and probably much of the country, was looking in the wrong place. Again.

I’d like to finish with the observation that a man who says to an unsuspecting member of the public whose watch he has just nicked, “Sorry I took your time” is probably impossible to second-guess. Even if you bear in mind Rule One.

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