Derren Brown Biography

(English Mentalist, Illusionist, Painter and Author)

Birthday: February 27, 1971 (Pisces)

Born In: London, England, United Kingdom

English illusionist and mentalist Derren Brown became a household name with his 2000 show Mind Control. He entertains audiences with not just traditional magic tricks, but includes innovative methods such as cold reading, body language reading, hypnosis, and cognitive psychology. He has often been accused of hiring paid actors for his shows. He has also been attacked by critics for his shows that used séance and Russian roulette as their main content. However, his stage shows have also won him the Laurence Olivier Award twice, while he has won a BAFTA, too. An author, too, he has written several books on magic. He is also a photography enthusiast and painter and has released books on street photography, paintings, and caricatures. He has been successful both on TV and on stage and has also performed on Broadway.

Quick Facts

British Celebrities Born In February

Age: 53 Years, 53 Year Old Males


father: Bob Brown

mother: Chris Brown

siblings: Dominic Brown

Born Country: England

Magicians Illustrators

Height: 1.75 m

City: London, England

Grouping of People: Gay

Early Life & Education

Derren Brown was born on February 27, 1971, to Chris and Bob Brown in the Croydon town of South London, England. He is the elder of his parents’ two children and has a brother who is nine years younger to him.

He grew up in Purley. Brown initially studied at the Whitgift School, where his father was a swimming coach. He then joined the University of Bristol, where he studied German language and law. While at Bristol University, he attended a show by hypnotist Martin S Taylor, which inspired him to study hypnosis and take it up as a career.

While pursuing his undergraduate studies, he began working as a conjuror and performed magic tricks in bars and restaurants. In 1992, at age 21, he made his stage debut at the University of Bristol, using the stage name Darren V. Brown.

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Career: Performance & Media

Brown’s breakthrough project was his 2000 show Mind Control, which started as hour-long specials featuring psychological tricks but was renewed in 2003 as a full series. His initial days saw him appear on multiple Objective Production shows.

In October 2003, he played Russian Roulette live at a stage show, while in 2004, he hosted a Séance at Elton Hall. He also gained fame with the show Trick of the Mind in 2004.

In June 2006, Brown appeared on Children in Need, performing a mentalism routine. In October that year, he appeared as himself in the British show Extras. In November 2006, Brown recreated several yesteryear magic tricks in the 50th-anniversary edition of Magic Mystery on Five.

In 2008, he was seen in a cameo in Crooked House. Brown also appeared on Al Murray's Multiple Personality Disorder, in which he hypnotized Al Murray, making him believe he was a chicken.

In 2009, he presented Derren Brown’s 3D Magic Spectacular. In 2011, he appeared on Derren Brown: The Experiments, which focused on psychological experiments to find out how people relate to their environment through their emotions and senses.

The two-part special Derren Brown: Apocalypse (2012) showed him convince an audience member that the world has been destroyed by a meteor. His other notable TV and stage shows are Something Wicked This Way Comes (stage show, 2005, 2006, broadcast on TV in 2006), The Heist (TV special, 2006), Trick or Treat (2007, 2008), Enigma (stage show, 2009, 2010, broadcast on TV in 2011), Infamous (stage show, 2013, 2014, broadcast on TV in 2014), Pushed to the Edge (TV special, 2016), and Miracle (stage show, 2015 and 2016).

In January 2013, he appeared in a Deal or No Deal special, predicting all the correct boxes and winning a jackpot of £250,000. The same year, he opened a skit on 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Deal.

In 2014, he appeared as himself in an episode of Sherlock, named The Empty Hearse. His 2018 Netflix special Sacrifice showed a common man being given a fake medical experiment. Brown made his US theatrical debut with his Broadway stage show Secrets in September 2019.

Brown has often revealed that he makes use of a variety of methods for his tricks, which include traditional magic techniques, memory tricks, body language reading, hypnosis, cold reading, cognitive psychology, and perception without awareness (PWA). He has also always maintained that he does not possess any supernatural power or ability. Experts have suggested that he uses neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) and hires paid performers to act out parts of hypnosis, though he has denied all such claims.

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As an Author

He has penned several books on magic. Apart from the books written under his name, some sources claim he has also written a few initial books under various pseudonyms.

His first two books written under his own name, Absolute Magic and Pure Effect, were written solely for magicians. Tricks of the Mind and Confessions of a Conjuror (2010) were, however, meant for the general public. He has also penned a book on the philosophy of happiness, named Happy.

His 2009 book Portraits featured many celebrity caricatures. He also published a book on street photography, Meet the People with Love, in 2018. He released A Book of Secrets in 2021.

Other Initiatives

He launched a virtual reality ride at the Surrey-based amusement park Thorpe Park in 2016. The ride, Derren Brown's Ghost Train, was set in a Victorian-themed railway depot, and made use of illusion and motion stimulation. In 2022, the ride was rebranded. Brown is no longer associated with it.

In 2019, he collaborated with Theory11, a playing card company.  His home-made video The Devil's Picturebook offered a mix of classic card tricks and mentalism and was available to magicians only, through a special password.

He has co-presented two web-series: The Science of Scams and The Science of Attraction. The first centred around paranormal and supernatural activity. The second dealt with attraction toward the opposite sex. Brown has also been a TED speaker.

Personal Life

While Derren Brown was an Orthodox Christian in his teens, he turned into an atheist in his 20s. At 30, he came out as gay in an interview. He also claimed to have been in a relationship with a designer named Marc back then, though they broke up after an 8-year courtship.

A huge fan of parrots, he is a patron of the Parrot Zoo Trust in eastern Lincolnshire, England. He has, apparently, been banned from many casinos in Britain due to his ability to predict winning lottery numbers.

He also once stated that he is afraid of heights. He revealed that he is scared he will die a slow death after falling from a height.


He has often been dragged into controversies for his unusual tricks. His stage performance of Russian Roulette in 2003 made critics say that he promoted suicide and gun culture. His show Séance received the third-highest number of complaints for any show in the UK.

His show Trick or Treat was attacked by critics for promoting cruelty to cats, as one of the tricks involved people pressing a button to, apparently, kill a cat, while no cats were killed in reality.

He was also accused of hiring a paid actor for Apocalypse, while The Heist was criticized for glorifying robbery and threatening the safety of security staff.

Awards & Recognitions

He won the Laurence Olivier Award for Best Entertainment twice, once in 2006, for Something Wicked This Way Comes, and again in 2012, for Svengali.

In 2015, He was named to The Sunday Times list of the 100 most influential people in the UK. He was also the first inductee of the Mentalist Hall of Fame. His 2011 show The Experiments won him a BAFTA for the best entertainment show.

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