Illusionist Derren Brown has hit out at “hurtful” allegations that the “victim” of a zombie stunt in his latest Channel 4 television show was an actor.
Last week on Apocalypse viewers saw teacher Steven Brosnan persuaded that he was in the midst of a zombie invasion following a devastating meteorite crash heralding the end of the world and leaving only a few survivors.
But the episode was accused of being faked after allegations surfaced that Brosnan was an actor.
Screen shots of a CastingCallPro account (an online casting tool for actors) in Brosnan’s name as well as links to a Pot Noodle advert featuring a man who looks very similar to Brosnan seemed to support the claims.
But Brown dismissed them as “conspiracy theories and rumours” in a blog post and wrote: “Steven is not a stooge, or an actor, or in any way just playing along”.
He wrote: “My shows always provoke a flurry of people insisting it’s all fake, and I’ve come to expect that – exhausting and hurtful though it can be after months and months of love and sweating blood to make such massively ambitious and heartfelt programmes.”
Brown admitted that Brosnan and the actor in the noodle advert “look annoyingly similar, but are not the same guy”. He tweeted a link to a YouTube video which he had made with Brosnan and an actor called Karl Greenwood, the real star of the noodle advert.
“Are you Steven Brosnan? Because a lot of people think you are,” Brown is heard to ask Greenwood, to which the response comes: “No, I am not.”
Brown asks Brosnan if he had ever starred in a noodle advert, and got him to confirm that he was “not the person to [his] left,” Karl Greenwood.
Brosnan responded to a question as to why he had a CastingCallPro account with: “I thought I could do something in my spare time after I left school.” He confirmed that he had never actually published or finished his CastingCallPro profile because he had no acting experience.
“I am not an actor. I have never been an actor. But I acted when I was at school,” Brosnan said.
Brown asked why he changed his CastingCallPro profile after the television show Apocalypse aired: “Because I was getting really nervous at the bad, negative attention. I tried to change the name on it, but it didn’t work.”
Brosnan described his involvement on Apocalypse as “Scary, terrifying, and the best experience of my life.”
Brown was emphatic that he had “never, ever used stooges or actors in that way” calling it “artistically repugnant, lazy and just unnecessary. And impossible to pull off, as anyone that knows him would of course be able to say so.”
He said: “We spent months setting up Steven’s experience, getting his family on board, and spending a vast sum of money making it as convincing as possible for him, and all our efforts making sure that he experienced a real transformation. To fake all of that with an actor would be pointless.”
The second part of Apocalypse will be shown on Channel 4 on Friday 2 November.