Russian roulette stunt 'not live'



It is being promoted as the ultimate TV stunt. Self-styled "psychological illusionist" Derren Brown will hold a gun to his head containing a single bullet put there by a member of the public.
He will fire the 348 Smith & Wesson five times at his head before firing the last shot - presumably containing the bullet - harmlessly away from his body.

"The psychological illusionist will play Russian roulette LIVE," said Channel 4's publicity for the show, due to go out this Sunday. "This is the first time a stunt of this kind has been performed on British television."

But unknown to viewers, strict broadcast regulations mean the programme, Derren Brown Plays Russian Roulette Live, must be aired "as live" after a delay of several seconds.

If anything goes wrong on Sunday, viewers will not see it. Station bosses will pull the plug and the screen will go blank, accompanied by an "appropriate message" informing viewers of what had happened.

"It is preferable to the alternative," said Brown, who admitted he would pull out of the stunt if he was not totally convinced it would work.

"If I am not 100% sure, I will not pull the trigger. It would be humiliating but it would be preferable to the other consequences. It is a real gun with a real bullet and I am really putting it against my head."

Five members of the public have been chosen from 12,000 hopefuls to take part in the show. Following a series of rigorous psychological tests, Brown will choose one of them to load the bullet into the gun, with each of its chambers numbered one to six.

Brown will then ask the "assistant" - standing behind bullet proof glass - to read out the numbers one to six, from which he will attempt to deduce into which chamber the bullet has been loaded. He will then fire the gun a total of five times into his head.

Brown said his task was no different to the age-old trick of finding an object under one of six cups.

"Russian Roulette is just an expansion of that same game," he said. "If I freak out about the gun and the bullet then it's not going to work. It's all about picking the right person, the person I feel most comfortable with. There have been moments when I've got a bit wobbly about it, but it's about keeping a distance."

The stunt will take place overseas - Brown would not reveal where - because it contravenes UK gun laws. But Brown denied accusations the stunt could lead to a string of copycat shootings.

Rick Naylor, vice president of the Police Superintendents' Association of England and Wales, said the stunt sent out the "entirely the wrong message" and could "end up with some tragedies."

"It does not glamorise gun violence," said Brown. "We are dealing with it in the most serious and strenuous way possible. The drama will not come from the gun part, but from the fun and games and entertainment that comes from the selection process."

Brown revealed he had recently re-written his will but was keeping that "private". He said his brother Dominic was so nervous about the stunt he had gone overseas.

Asked why he was apparently willing to risk his life on "live" TV, Brown replied: "It's not really about the money. I wanted to do something that would make exciting TV, and I wanted to find out if I could do it. You are always trying to push the boundaries, to push things forward."