Why “Derren Brown: Pushed To The Edge” Is So Important

Hey guys, as you may have been aware, everyone’s favourite TV magician/illusionist/hypnotist/mentalist/all-around performer, Derren Brown returned to our TV’s after just over a year, with his new one-off special “Pushed To The Edge”. With a 1.3 million peak audience, what was the hype behind the illusionists latest instalment? Well, Derren wanted to test whether or not experimenting with something known as ‘social compliance’ could convince a human being to push another to their death.IMG_0813The aim of this special was to investigate and experiment with an extreme example of the concept of social compliance. Now, social compliance is something that inadvertently affects us all, after all, it is a trait of human nature. Over the years, we as human beings have learnt that there is safety in numbers; by following the crowd, we are increasing our chances of survival. Social compliance essentially taps into our response to follow orders; to do something that an apparent authority figure tells us to do, simply because they say it’s the right thing to do. As Derren explains, “This authority can come from a person, a group of like-minded individuals, or an ideology.”

So why bother developing an experiment into something perfectly normal?

Well, it’s actually because social compliance has it’s bad traits. Derren further explains, “It can help keep public order, but it can also push people to commit terrible acts.”

Aside from this special covering a highly interesting topic, and exposing a huge psychological phenomena, I enjoyed this special for some additional, un-suspected reasons.

“Pushed To The Edge” was actually the first show that Derren Brown has ever produced, where my admiration and how impressed I was, peaked within the last 10 minutes.

Now don’t get me wrong, I really did enjoy the entire narrative, loopholes, the extensive talents shown, techniques and psychological ideas that were explored, but something felt wrong. Derren’s more recent shows usually aim to impact an individuals life in a highly positive way, helping them to change for the better. But this particular show seemed to latch onto darkness. There wasn’t an obvious way in which Chris, (the focal individual in the show) was being taught anything valuable. But then I realised I felt that “Pushed To The Edge” was lacking something, because I was latching this show onto all other previous shows. Forgetting that Derren always aims to come back with an entirely new concept with each show, never just replicate previous ones.

During the final 10 minutes, I found myself telling my brother how it had been years since we, as an audience, have seen something Derren is investigating not go entirely as planned.

Almost immediately after I’d mentioned that, we see Chris reject what the presented authority figures are telling him to do, instead choosing to stand by what he believes is right.

“Pushed To The Edge” is so important in so many aspects, because not only did it give the audience everything I’ve already mentioned, but it showed Derren presenting another psychological concept, in an entirely unbiased, and innovative way. 3 of the 4 participants went along with the entirety of the experiment, but the focus of the show, the narration that we are presented with, is the one that didn’t complete the experiment in the predicted way. I feel like this is paramount when it comes to experiments and psychology, because all too often we’re told that we all fit into these tiny boxes of behaviours (which we do in many cases, but it is not true for every single behaviour we exhibit.) and we aren’t given a different point of view.

It’s no surprise to anyone that I really enjoyed this show, but I think “Pushed To The Edge” might be one of the most important shows that Derren has ever done.


You can watch Derren Brown: Pushed To The Edge on 4OD HERE

Did you watch the show? What was your favourite part?