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Derren Brown stunt upsets police and moves abroad

LONDON - Channel 4's showing of illusionist Derren Brown's stunt to control a gun in a game of Russian Roulette has incurred the wrath of members of the police and is having to be staged abroad in order to sidestep strict UK gun laws, writes Claire Billings.

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The programme, to be aired on Sunday October 5, will show Brown play a potentially fatal game with the aid of volunteer, who will load the handgun with a single bullet from behind a bullet-proof screen. The remaining five chambers of the Smith & Wesson pistol will be empty.

Once the handgun is loaded, Brown will put the pistol to his head and, using mind control, keep pulling the trigger until he believes he has found the live round, at which point he will pull the gun away from his head and shoot it into the ground.

The stunt, which is being called the ultimate in risk-taking TV, has raised concerns from the Police Superintendents' Association that it will encourage children to copy him, despite the fact that it is being broadcast post-watershed at 9pm.

Speaking in The Sun, chief superintendent Rick Naylor from South Yorkshire Police and vice-president of the Police Superintendents Association, said he was "flabbergasted" by the plans, because it "sends entirely the wrong message".

As many as 12,000 people volunteered to load the gun for Brown, from which one was chosen.

Brown has said that he will only go ahead with the stunt if he feels confident.

"If I'm not sure I will not pull the trigger," he said. "It will be humiliating but preferable to the other option."

This week, it emerged that the show will not be screened live, but will be broadcast on a delayed, as-live feed.

Since Mark Thompson took over at the helm of Channel 4, the broadcaster has made it its strategy to push the boundaries of risk-taking TV.

One of its earlier attempts to shock was the controversial screening of an autopsy last November by the German Professor Gunther von Hagens, creator of the Body Worlds exhibition of dead bodies, which had been treated to stop them decaying.

The autopsy prompted 130 complaints in the immediate aftermath.

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