How my lovely moral sister-in-law became a Derren Brown ‘killer’
THE SISTER-IN-LAW of a woman convinced to ‘murder’ a stranger as part of a TV experiment has described the shock she felt watching the show.
Illusionist Derren Brown used his powers of persuasion to get unwitting participants to push a man apparently to his death from a roof in a dramatic programme on Tuesday night.
While the ‘victim’ was in fact an actor fastened to a safety harness, the test subjects believed they were pushing the stranger to his death. Their faces told the dreadful story, showing pain and confusion as they wrestled with their consciences.
Incredibly, only one of the four participants refused the task – proving Brown’s hypothesis that many ordinary men and women allow others to control their lives.
Joanne Wykes, whose sister-in-law Laura Wykes, 28, was tricked into thinking she was a killer, said she found the experiment ‘horrible’ but ‘fascinating’ to watch.
Writing on the illusionist’s Facebook page after the one- off Channel 4 show aired, she said: ‘Derren Brown you naughty man making my lovely, kind, moral, strong, independent sister-in-law kick that man and push him over the edge.
‘Totally fascinating to watch, work of genius how it was put together ... Has really made me challenge my own thought process. Horrible to see Laura struggling with herself and so upset.’
Asked if her sister-in-law, who is from Hinckley, Leicestershire, had been given counselling, she replied: ‘I think so. Can’t wait to see her to give her a big hug.’
Derren Brown: Pushed to the Edge saw the illusionist stage four fake charity auctions, inviting one of the unwitting volunteers to each.
Brown has likened the manipulation to ‘boiling a frog’ – whereby the animal is placed in tepid water which is then heated slowly so it doesn’t realise it is being killed.
The participants were told they might win lucrative contracts to work for the charity and would also get the chance to network with one of its donors. Over just a few hours, they agreed to commit increasingly anti-social acts in order to please the programme’s fake charity boss.
Most of the others involved in the scenario were actors, while Brown pulled the strings from behind the scenes. First, the participants were told the millionaire donor had dropped dead of a heart attack and that this had to be covered up. All four were persuaded to hide the donor’s body and impersonate him.
When the fake boss changed his mind, and accepted the death would have to be disclosed, he insisted it would have to look like an accident.
Miss Wykes, Hannah Turkington, 26, and Martin Speller, 27, all agreed to kick the man’s body in the stomach to produce bruises that would look like he had fallen. Only Chris Kingston, 29, refused.
They were later duped again when they were told the millionaire hadn’t died at all, just fainted, and now wanted to see them sent to jail. In separately staged scenarios, Miss Turkington, Miss Wykes and Mr Speller – egged on by a small group of fake charity workers – then shoved the man off the roof.
Regulator Ofcom had last night received 14 complaints about the show, with one viewer branding it ‘manipulative and damaging’.
A Channel 4 spokesman said: ‘All the participants went through a rigorous psychological selection process ... [they] were extremely well taken care of throughout and after the process, and all of them feel very positive about the experience.’
Shock: Miss Wykes pushes a man to his ‘death’ in the experiment
Manipulated: Laura Wykes, 28