Hundreds complain over TV 'séance' show

Derren Brown’s live “séance” was one of the most complained-about TV programmes ever, figures showed today.

Derren Brown’s live “séance” was one of the most complained-about TV programmes ever, figures showed today.

More than 700 viewers have contacted Channel 4 and media regulator Ofcom about the show, which was broadcast on Monday night.

It is the third-most-complained-about show in British TV history.

Channel 4 received around 400 calls and 97 letters or emails, while Ofcom has so far received 208 complaints.

The vast majority were made before the programme was transmitted.

Brown, the “mind control expert” who caused controversy last year with his Russian Roulette stunt, set out to debunk the idea of séances.

He assembled 12 students in a London house and told them that another 12 students had died there years earlier in a suicide pact.

They were shown photographs of each of the 12 “dead” and asked to choose one which they felt drawn to. Almost all chose a girl called Jane.

Using a Ouija board and other spiritualist paraphernalia, the volunteers attempted to contact Jane and were spooked when the board spelled out a message from her.

They believed they were communicating with her spirit – but at the end of the programme Brown revealed the suicide story was a hoax and Jane was alive and well.

The volunteers had been selected by Brown because they were particularly susceptible to suggestion.

A Channel 4 spokeswoman said only 30 of the phone complaints were received after transmission.

Most of those received prior to transmission were from church groups, she added.

Viewers were encouraged to participate at home and up to 10,000 people called a special helpline during the show.

Responding to the complaints, the spokeswoman said: “Obviously this was a very thought-provoking show and was always going to be controversial. We hope that viewers found it enjoyable and entertaining.”

The most complained-about programme on British TV was Channel 4’s airing of Martin Scorsese's film The Last Temptation of Christ, which received 1,554 complaints when it was shown in 1995.

Second was the 2001 Brass Eye special on paedophilia, which attracted 992 complaints.

Brown hit the headlines last October when he claimed to be playing Russian Roulette live on TV.

He claimed to be firing a loaded gun at his head, using his “powers” to deduce which chamber contained a live bullet.

It was later exposed as a hoax when police revealed he had used a blank bullet.

More in this section

IE_180_logo
Price info

Subscribe to unlock unlimited digital access.
Cancel anytime.

Terms and conditions apply

ieFood pic
ieFood Logo

In the Kitchen with

 Video Series

Join Colm O'Gorman in his kitchen as he makes flatbreads in minutes and crispy air fryer chicken. Explore why he thinks chilli is the spice of life, and find out why his 50-year-old food mixer is his most important piece of kitchen equipment. Friday, September 17, 12pm

Puzzles logo
IE-logo

Puzzles hub

Visit our brain gym where you will find simple and cryptic crosswords, sudoku puzzles and much more. Updated at midnight every day. PS ... We would love to hear your feedback on the section right HERE.

great irish summer

From walking and hiking, to day trips and camping, your guide to holidays at home in 2021

Lifestyle
Newsletter

The best food, health, entertainment and lifestyle content from the Irish Examiner, direct to your inbox.

Sign up