TV Russian roulette 'faked'


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Bruce in West Oz
October 7, 2003, 11:50 PM
AN illusionist's attempt to trick British television audiences into thinking he had played Russian roulette with a loaded pistol backfired today when police said the weapon had contained only a blank round.

"There was no live ammunition involved, and at no time was anyone at risk," said Lenny Harper, chief of police on the British Channel Island of Jersey, where the stunt was filmed.

Derren Brown, 32, had been televised by Britain's Channel Four television pretending to shoot himself with the loaded pistol, raising protests from police and anti-weapons groups.

Viewers saw the magician point a Smith and Wesson revolver at himself before pulling the trigger.

Brown said he used a series of psychological tests to supposedly read the mind of the person who loaded the handgun, to determine which chamber contained the bullet.

He asked the person to count to six, using the sound of his voice to help locate the live chamber.

Brown fired the fifth chamber towards a sandbag, and it apparently went off. The cameras then showed a hole appearing in the bag.

But police revealed today that a prop company had brought blank ammunition to the island.

"There is absolutely no way that the Jersey police would allow anybody to put themselves at risk, and shoot themselves dead," Harper said.

"This program was made by a television company very experienced in pyrotechnics, in making smoke and bullet holes appear. It was no different to film which uses special effects," Harper said.

"This was just an illusion. The question of whether it was in dubious taste is another matter," Harper said.

Brown had claimed the stunt needed to be filmed at a secret foreign location to bypass Britain's strict gun laws. However, the laws in Jersey are just as tough.

Channel Four refused to confirm that blank ammunition had been used, but admitted it had liaised with police in Jersey before filming.

Brown's spokesman declined to comment, apart from saying that if the illusionist had fired a blank round into his head "he would have died anyway".

http://www.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,4057,7497938%255E13762,00.html

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C.R.Sam
October 7, 2003, 11:57 PM
Brown's spokesman declined to comment, apart from saying that if the illusionist had fired a blank round into his head "he would have died anyway". Pretty good odds that he right about that if no shield twixt muzzle n head.
Or gun altered so as to not blow out from the muzzle.

Sam

Archie
October 8, 2003, 12:21 AM
This article confirms what I knew already.

No television station is going to risk showing someone blowing their brains out. (Even in Great Britain, that would be negligent homicide.) The police of any jurisdiction are not going to allow it. The magician or illusionist (save a fruit loop) is not going to risk his life; just make it look like it.

Then again, using a blank against your head is not very smart, either.

But I still believe David Copperfield really walked through the Great Wall of China. I saw it on television.

Mike Irwin
October 8, 2003, 12:29 AM
"There was no live ammunition involved, and at no time was anyone at risk,"

Tell that to John Erik Hexum, who blew his brains out with a blank...

Standing Wolf
October 8, 2003, 12:48 AM
The so-called "stunt" set an extremely bad example for impressionable youngsters.

Pendragon
October 8, 2003, 01:40 AM
Yeah, I was a kid and I really liked that goofy spy show he was on at the time.

I felt even worse when Brandon Lee was killed - aparently by a blank round propelling a slug that was lodged in the cylinder after a prop change.

"all guns are always loaded..."

I really dislike the way Hollywood makes "blanks" seem like nothing more than pop-caps for toys.

Mike Irwin
October 8, 2003, 01:54 AM
"The so-called "stunt" set an extremely bad example for impressionable youngsters."

But it does ratchet up the potential for a lot of entrants in the Darwin Award "under 21" categories...

Bruce in West Oz
October 8, 2003, 02:01 AM
Archie

No offence taken, mate -- I couldn't agree with you more. I think anyone who believed the ammo in the firearm was "real" was simply redefining the word "gullible". :D

Bruce

slacker
October 8, 2003, 02:13 AM
I watched Penn and Teller fire 357s at each other at a live stage show in Dallas a few years ago. They caught the bullets with their teeth. Do I believe it was real? No- how could it be? . Was it entertaining? yes- I was baffled.

Here's someone else's account of that trick.
http://www.donath.org/Rants/PennTellerBulletTrick/

Mk VII
October 8, 2003, 03:31 AM
Many, many years ago [1920s] a Chinese magician used to do a bullet-catching trick nightly on stage here. One night he was shot dead doing it. Robert Churchill, the gunsmith, who routinely acted for the police in firearms cases in the era, was called in to examine the gun.
The magician would get a member of the audience up on stage to load the gun with powder and ball and make an identifying mark on the bullet. The magician's assistant would fire the gun, the magician would 'catch' in his teeth, and exhibit the bullet to another member of the audience to verify that it was the marked bullet. The gun, a double-barrelled muzzleloader, proved on examination to have no communication between the nipples and the chambers. Underneath the barrels was a third smaller barrel which, on a casual glance, appeared to be a rod pipe and which contained the ramrod. This, pre-loaded with a blank charge, was the one which had a channel to the nipples. The assistant would take the ramrod from the 'mark' after he had finished loading and casually set it on one side. The 'caught' bullet was concealed in the magician's mouth beforehand and because two different people were called on to examine the before and after bullets they never had a chance to compare notes.
What went wrong was that the magician had been nightly in the habit of unscrewing the breech plugs to recover the bullets without using a worm. Performed repeatedly this loosened the plug threads enough to allow a fine dust of powder to migrate down the threads and the flashover from the caps did the rest.

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