First Night: Derren Brown: The Event Live, C4

Come in Derren Brown, your number's up
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The Independent Culture

So that's it then. Today, Friday, and then it's retirement for the lot of us. For that is when the master illusionist Derren Brown will tell us all how last night, on live television, he successfully predicted all six winning lottery numbers.

In an empty studio with two cameramen and a flat screen TV, the goateed deceiver entered, minutes before the live draw, and pointed to six white ping pong balls lined up in a clear Perspex tray at the top of a clear Perspex tube. He's decided on them today, he says, the culmination of years of obsession, which have seen lottery numbers stuck up all over his house.

So can we see them? Well, no, Mr Brown explained: "I've had meetings with the BBC today, and they said they have a legal right to announce the lottery numbers before anyone else does, so because of that I can't show you them until just after the lottery has been announced."

His little white balls are of course not the actual results, but merely predictions, of which it would seem unlikely the BBC or anyone else should have any legal claim – unless there is one rule for Mystic Meg and another for the rest of us. But then, if he were to reveal them before the draw – well that would be amazing.

The screen is switched on to the live feed from BBC One, the Voice of the Balls is heard, and the draw begins. 23... 35... 11... 28... Brown remained stock still, a fist pressed against the side of his face... 39... 02.

He jumped up and down rather excitedly. Admittedly perhaps a little less excitedly than most people who've correctly predicted the lottery numbers, but then Camelot had banned him from buying a ticket. Just as well. He scribbled the numbers down in ascending order on a large white board, held them behind his ping pong balls, turned the tray round, and there they were. So how on earth did he do it? There were no visible editing shots, no commercial breaks, and if you accept that the BBC broadcast the National Lottery live, then this had to be live too.

Last year in his show The System, he correctly sent the correct winners of five horse races to a hard up housewife, and convinced her to bet £4,000 of her own money on his prediction for the sixth. Only when it lost did we find out that he'd sent similar predictions to another 7,775 unsuspecting people, covering every possible combination.

So on Friday when, he promised, "I'll show you how I did it, and how you can do it too," we must brace ourselves for an equally irritatingly obvious yet ingenious solution.

But if not, well, in the ever-so slightly amended words of Derek Trotter, this time next week Rodders...