Nicola Monaghan's news, events and general thoughts about life and writing.

Saturday, 3 October 2009

The funniest thing I have EVER seen on TV

I'm sure it will be no surprise to readers of this blog that I tuned in to Derren Brown tonight. I'm left, well, laughing all the way to my keyboard. Derren's deadpan 'Oh, one out.' The face of the man whose money's on the table, clearly utterly convinced that the ball's going to somehow jump over the divide in the roulette wheel yet, because Derren Brown wouldn't mess up on this scale. The production assistant, standing outside the trailer with a giant cheque at the ready for a hundred and eighty grand and the way he walks up, gingerly. 'Don't worry mate, we'll get your five grand back.' The silence as the series peters out could almost define dramatic anticlimax. It brought to mind the ending of The Blair Witch Project.

Of course they'll get his five grand back because they ain't gambled it away in the first place. Derren Brown ain't been nowhere near no casino tonight, not unless it was after the show in his own time. I know Casinos and I'm telling yous; that was a Channel Four studio 'somewhere in Europe', or a Casino they'd borrowed and closed for the evening.

For starters, it was too quiet and empty. There was no sound of other gamblers, of other roulette wheels, or cards being shoed or shuffled. Sure, it could have been a small casino but the problem with that is there was no evidence whatsoever, either visual or audio, of slot machines. They ain't not one casino in the world that don't got slot machines, girlfriend, and they make noise and flash lights all the time to try to hypnotise you and get your money (not unlike Derren Brown). There were no croupiers rushing past, or people serving drinks, and none of the small trolleys you get given as a punter to put your drinks on. You don't stand at a table with holding your wine glass while you play. You don't change your chips when you're putting them all on the same number. You don't walk around holding your sleeves up to stuff so the hidden camera can catch it. Well, not unless you fancy getting taken away and being beaten up in the basement.

Then there's the size of the bet. Five grand on a single number? Casinos risk manage their exposure. You don't just walk over to a table and put that much cash on the nose of a 35 to 1 payout without the pit boss having a look see if he's happy. At least, you don't unless you're in Aspinall's or one of the other super exclusive casinos on Curzon Street. And the thing about those Casinos is that A. you have to be a multi-millionaire to join (although mebbe our Derren's been playing the lottery) and B. you have to get a personal invitation by someone who's already a member. And like even if Derren did all that, they're gonna let him join, four weeks after the TV schedule announces he's going to bring the place down? Yeah, right, whatever.

It almost goes without saying at this stage that Derren's explanation of how he did it was complete rubbish. Brown claimed tonight to be able to assess two different speeds going in opposite directions by tapping his feet to their different rhythms. Hello? Anyone here ever tried to rub their stomach and pat their head at the same time? Well this would be harder, you'd have to do it faster, then apply a load of complicated calculations and take into account rebounds and bounces on the wheel. And all that in the few seconds you've got between the croupier spinning the wheel and you putting your chips down. Derren's clever and quick. He ain't a computer. Add to this the fact that there's a camera in Derren's sleeve, he is tapping *both* of his feet but at slightly different rhythms and yet we don't see its picture (or our Derren for that matter) shake any more than it was doing before. He would also have looked mighty strange while he carried out this little trick. If you don't believe me stand up and try tapping both your feet. Hmmm...

So, if what I say is true and it's all a big set up, why on earth not just go all the way and get the number exactly right?

Well one big reason springs to mind right away. If he did that, he'd have had to give Ben that blooming great cheque. There's a second thing too. By getting the figure one out, he makes the trick more believable. People think he came so close to pulling it off, and assume that if he was cheating he'd have got it exactly right so that he must be telling the truth. Paul Daniel's even suggested Derren should get one of the lottery balls wrong, for this exact reason.

But it was well done and it was funny, I'll give him that. I suspect there will be some kind of link between The Events and Derren's next series, where he'll be scam busting. Starting with his own scams mebbe? Just a hunch.

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