Sunday, 11 May 2008

Derren "Lovely" Brown


Trick or Treat Series 2 Episode 2 "Kitten"


In this episode Derren Brown regresses a very sweet young woman back to childhood to weaken her impulse control, causing her to press a big red button which she believes will electrocute a kitten.

The kitten, standing on a perforated metal plate in a large glass box, looked well fed and content and to be honest, I've seen cuter. With all the resources of a TV production company at their disposal couldn't they have found a frailer, tinier kitten with more imploring eyes?

I was having difficulty taking it seriously. I didn't really believe the kitten was in any peril. I was absolutely certain they would not be allowed to kill a kitten on TV. Derren apparently already has a legion of stalkers, does he really want the Animal Rights people after him as well? Or even worse the Cats Protection people? As a paid up member of this organisation, I'm telling you, don't mess with the kind of people who have the nerve to go out in public with cat motifs appliqu├ęd to their clothing.

I found myself thinking, "I hope that kitten went to the toilet before being put in there - one widdle and he's toast!" and I imagined the sooty outline of a vapourised kitten on the wall of the glass container.

Of course, she presses the button and the kitten does not die. But here's the really sinister bit. Near the end of the episode we see Derren lifting the kitten out of the container with infinite tenderness, cooing "Baby!!" and then enjoying a kind of group hug with participant, Lauren plus kitten. Derren, eyes soft with tender kitten love, tickles the kitten's fur with a crooked index finger.

I wonder what the fans who loved Zombie Shoot-em-up and Nail Up the Nose will make of this new, snuggly, kitten fondling Derren?

Might this be the advent of a more human TV image? He seems stuck with the persona he has adopted, or was asked to adopt, in his TV shows - unsmiling, emotionless and casually cruel. In WhatsOnStage he says, "I also find it faintly embarrassing being that guy on TV. It’s not me and I don’t think I’d truly like to meet that person on the street. When people like David Tennant come on the TV show, people I warm to, I’m frustrated that the me they interact with isn’t really me, because I have a job to do. I’m more me on the stage." Later in the same article - "I think the biggest life skill anyone can learn, what matters more than anything else and gets you further than anything else, is just to be lovely."

In DigitalSpy after confessing to the very human frailty of being afraid of spiders, he says "'I'm not that scary - in fact, I like to think I'm disappointingly nice."

Or maybe his current contentment in his personal life is the reason for this new, softer, lovelier Derren. In future episodes will we see him skipping through summer meadows, painting rainbows and laughing at clouds? Probably not.

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