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Derren Brown, how he actually factually dunnit with the balls, no word of a lie

13 Sep

Friends, Romans, Country Fans,

(please excuse me, whilst working this all out I had a few drinks, yeah?)

Like me, you’ll no doubt have been flabbergasted by Derren Brown’s latest telly trick where he “predicted” the correct lottery numbers for the main draw on the Ninth of September, 2009. However, like me, you’ll no doubt be less than convinced by his explanations on the Friday night.

The first explanation he offered, that he predicted the outcome by taking the averages of peoples subliminal guesses, is clearly bogus. Whilst the average of people guesses for the weight of a cake is entirely plausible, the average of peoples guesses at the nights lottery numbers is stretching it a bit.

The second explanation, albeit offered jokingly, was that he fixed the machine. Again, utter rot. Channel 4 could not afford to pull such a stunt, because of the damage to their reputation if found out, and more pressingly because of their current bank balance. They showed the same program on five different channels people. There is no way in hell they could afford to rig the machine, because it would have cost them money, and all the money was clearly spent on that elaborate knife-footing mousey exercise that crucially had nothing to do with the lottery.

However, before I reveal exclusively on this blog how Derren dunnit, it would be remiss of me not to look at the leading internet counter idea, which is detailed here (or at least was, it’s down at time of writing). This well written and utterly convincing argument, in a nutshell, is that Derren used computer gadgetry and IT skills to make the telly hide a stagehand who put the correct numbers into place, whilst hidden from the viewing public. Indeed, the “smoking gun” was that the final ball, number 39, was slightly higher than the others, despite being at the same level when the balls had their backs, as it were, to the cameras.

Whilst scientifically speaking that may seem plausible, what you have to remember here is, what if a Schroedinger’s Cat happened? Now, I’m not an expert on quantum physics, God only knows I wish I were, but I do know this – things can move randomly when you’re not watching them, and that’s a fundamental law that holds the universe together. Let’s face it, everyone was watching Derren’s reactions at the time, so who’s to say it didn’t just quark up a few notches? Unless someone is willing to take the time and effort to debunk that theory, and do so using red and blue arrows as is required in physics, I think we can safely say that no camera trickery was involved.

So how did he do it?

Very simply. He used the oldest trick in the book, one which has been able time and time again to correctly predict at least 3 numbers since the dawn of lottery time, back in 1994. Birthdays. That’s right, everyone in the country knows someone who has a mum, or an aunt, or a drug dealer who has won at least a tenner using this method. Given that Derren Brown is a known illusionist and quite clever with it, it is not beyond all possible reason that he is clever enough to be able to get 5 out of the 6 balls, which is what he was going for. But wait! I hear you cry, what’s so special about 2, 11, 23, 28, 35 and 39 that he knew they’d come out? Well, luckily I have a ball-by-ball run down, with my own theory of why they were destined to come out.


The number two represents, according to Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia which I’ve just edited, the birthdate of American singer Roger Miller, who is perhaps most famous for singing that song off Walt Disney’s Robin Hood, what was sampled by the Hamster Dance lot back in the day. Now, if you watched the Friday show, you’ll have seen not one but TWO (that’s the number in question) instances where mice (which are basically dwarf hamsters) were involved.


The number eleven is derived from the birthday of none other than Adrienne Barbeau, star of TV’s “The Cannonball Run”. Also in the film, notably, were Dom DeLuise, Burt Reynolds, Jackie Chan, Sammy Davis Jr., Dean Martin, The Pet Shop Boys (uncredited) and Mr James Bond himself, James Bond. Cruicially, there’s a bit where Burt Reynolds stops his helicopter so that DeLuise can get out and buy some beer from a small grocers, the sort of place where you would buy a lottery ticket. He didn’t, and maybe that’s why he didn’t win the race.


Twenty-three is a mythical number, numerology fans will no doubt recognise it as being the number that crops up again and again throughout time in between 22 and 24. Twenty-three is also the famous birthday of Jodie Marsh, who is perhaps better known as “Not-Jordan”. Other people who aren’t Jordan are Eric Sykes, Floella Benjamin, and Gordon Kennedy, formerly of “Absolutly” and the first regular co-host of “The National Lottery Live”. Cynics, sneer away if you will, call it “tenuous at best”, but I bet you can’t think of any National Lottery presenters who are Jordan. Not even Ben Shephard.


Ahh yes, there’s that good old juvenile prank where you ask someone “How many months have twenty-eight days?”, and you get the answer “One” which prompts you to snigger, “No, they all have 28 days” before you and the “Punk’d” one roll about on the floor laughing. One such person who would definately not fall for this trick is British telly legend Chris Barrie, who was born on this day. Barrie was famously in Red Dwarf as holgram Rimmer, and also in The Brittas Empire, where he was married to that bird out of Green Wing, who incidentally was frozen in time for ten years, which is why she was off the telly all that time. Gordon Kennedy (I mentioned him in the last paragraph, fact fans) was once in Red Dwarf as an android sent to replace the bloke off of Scrapheap Challenge. Rimmer also went back in time to give the LOTTERY RESULTS to his FORMER SELF, only for Lister to nick his idea and become rich. By LOTTERY RESULTS, I mean BUBBLE WRAP. COLOURED RED. Poetic license, yeah?


Nobody was born on the thirty-fifth, because it’s not a proper date. However, some older people were born back when 35 was a year, and not a calendar date. Professional Yorkshireman Michael Parkinson was one such person, and not only did he host a program on the SAME CHANNEL as the lottery draw, he even did so on the SAME EVENING, sometimes (if the football was on) WITHIN MINUTES OF THE DRAW BEING MADE.


In 1939 war was beginning. Luckily, English World Cup Winner George Cohen was also born in that year. What gets weird, right, is that England have only won the World Cup once. 50 million people, or approx 83% of people in the UK, to which Derren Browns programme was broadcast, live in England, and so can identify with George Cohen “on some level or other”. Now, what’s interesting is if we focus on Scotland, immediately to the north of England on a map or a GPS, and look at the 10% (approx) of the UKs population who live there. If you were to ask the hypothetical question “Were you pleased with England’s World Cup win in 1966, and are you especially proud of how often the media repeat this amazing fact, about England winning the World Cup in 1966, which they did, and you didn’t. Ever.”, the chances of someone saying “yes”, mathematically speaking, are 1 in 13,983,816, EXACTLY THE SAME CHANCE OF WINNING THE LOTTERY.

So there we have it. It wasn’t an invisible inkjet printer from out of space, it wasn’t magical balls, and it certainly wasn’t a clever camera trick. No, it all came down to knowing what balls were going to come out, on the right day, and it’s all thanks to the birthday balls. I also know that a lot of you will not be convinced by this, so I urge you to do what I’m about to do, and place a pound on these bad boys come Wednesday night.

5 (Birthday of Stan Ridgeway, “Camouflage” legend)
12 (Jay out of Jay and the Silent Bobs, Jason Mewes)
17 (James Corden, the only overweight West Ham fan not on the pitch at Upton Park when they played Millwall)
24 (Marvin the Martian, cartoon character, made debut)
29 (Chris Broad. You know Stuart Broad out of the England Cricket Team? His dad, or something)
44 (Michael Fish happened)