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Okay, Derren... how did you do that?

The greatest trick the devil ever played, as Verbal said in The Usual Suspects, was convincing the world he didn't exist.

And watching the Mephisto-like Derren Brown pull his latest stunt is a lesson in how the dark arts work their magic not through fear, but suggestion.

Brown, in fact, seems to do very little in coaxing his subjects into obeying his every wish apart from the little whisper, the feather-like tap on the shoulder or subtle pointers that sway them one way and not the other.

Last year's special saw Brown predict the British Lottery numbers. It was called a sham by many, with few raising a hand to proffer any answers as to how it was actually done. Brown, like our own Keith Barry, is an entertainer first. And it's in the world of entertainment that guys like these really cast their spell.

Brown's latest outing was called Hero at 30,000 Feet, where his challenge was to choose a random and fairly hapless individual and throw them so far off kilter that they'll actually just . . . fly a plane that's about to crash.

The selection process -- which, perhaps tellingly, the viewer sees very little of -- resulted in a guy called Matt, not the sharpest of swords in the magician's cabinet, luckless chap, lives with his mum, her boyfriend and his own girlfriend and has the fleeting ambition of one day becoming a policeman in what was possibly a step-up from his earlier dream of being a train driver.

Duping Matt into thinking he is about to take part in a TV gameshow, Brown actually goes about veering him off his humdrum path of work, sleep and pleasant dreams and not very subtly either.

In a sense of course, it is all a game in which Matt, like Michael Douglas in the film The Game, is the unwitting lead character. And it is fascinating to watch and often, very, very funny.

Matt's first wake-up call is to be a bystander in the robbery of a petrol station.

Another sees him break into the home of a high-ranking police officer.

Brown, meanwhile, pays the odd nightly visit to his home, rouses him into sleepwalking with the aid of speakers in his bedroom and wheedles him into doing the things he is about to do.

Pat a crocodile. Lay on a train track wrapped in a straitjacket. And finally -- fly the plane. Well, it was a simulator in the end, which was the only little bump in an otherwise thrilling ride.

Brown as an entertainer works on so many levels.

He spends more time in the wings to ensure his presence as the main player is just enough.

He's never forceful, excitable or over the top. He is, essentially, a guy you would trust. Then, like Verbal says, 'Like that -- poof. He's gone.'

Dear, oh dear. Thing is, you do have to remember that a once great band called The Monkees first answered the call for a TV series in 1966 before, as individuals, they ever became a band of musicians in the traditional sense.

No fear of that ever happening to Jedward, despite, as I learnt from the final instalment of this reality show which had already been screened for ITV, their album, Planet Jedward, going platinum.

Nothing more than an extended promo, the idea behind this was to plant the pair in a penthouse, cause a lot of needless damage while cooking, cleaning and generally farting about, and have record company execs come around for dinner to tell them how great their album is doing.

Live footage of the pair screeching through other people's songs is badly edited into a package that, even in a mere three parts, was excruciating. Are we done now?

GALVIN'S STARS

DERREN BROWN: HERO AT 30,000 FEET ****

JEDWARD: LET LOOSE *


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