Catch up TV review: Derren Brown, Peter: The Human Cyborg, Celebs Go Virtual Dating
Ivan Radford | On 30, Aug 2020
Derren Brown: 20 Years of Mind Control (All 4)
A programme celebrating two decades of Derren Brown is about as puff piecy as TV gets, but if you’re going to watch a 20-year celebration of anyone, you can’t do much better than Derren Brown. The psychological illusionist – who is still flummoxed by that description years after coming up with in an interview years ago – is a wonderfully self-aware figure, as much a shrewd observer of his own behaviour as other people’s. And so, as we jump back through his archive of Channel 4 programmes, he delivers an entertaining and insightful commentary on his own tricks, patter and presentation – while, inevitably, setting us up for another trick performed at the end of the show. The result is a reminder of why Brown is such a charismatic and entertaining magician, but also a chance to see a skilled performer fine-tune their art as they mature and work out their strengths. If that’s as close as we will ever get to delving into Derren’s own psyche, that’s good enough for this viewer.
Celebs Go Virtual Dating (All 4)
Channel 4’s dating agency – Paul Carrick Brunson, Anna Williamson and Tom Read Wilson – returns to pair up celebrities with normal members of the public, but the twist this time is that the dates are all socially distanced – either taking place several steps’ removed in person or virtually via video call. The result is as trashy as dating telly gets, lacking the endearing sincerity of First Dates or The Undateables – a fact not helped by the brash, unfunny voiceover that’s trying to imitate Iain Stirling from Love Island. But as an example of the socially distanced dating circuit, it’s an interesting spotlight on how strange it can be to form a connection over the web – or at least, how difficult it can be when all the men involved are shallow types who immediately try to start dropping sexual innuendoes with all the charm of a verruca.
Peter: The Human Cyborg (All 4)
At the other end of this technology age is this inspiring, astonishing documentary about Peter Scott-Morgan, a man with Motor Neurone Disease who refuses to let that define him. Instead, he decides to brave the road less travelled and turn himself into a cyborg. Radical robotics, AI and surgery are all part of his plan, which will allow him to stand, breathe and feed – a quest that he carries out with philosophical maturity, scientific intellect and a stoic determination. A follow-up documentary is needed immediately.