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Last Updated: Thursday, 3 June, 2004, 17:41 GMT 18:41 UK
Hundreds protest at TV 'seance'
Derren Brown
Derren Brown is known for his mind control tricks
A live TV "seance" by illusionist Derren Brown has become one of the most complained about shows in history.

More than 700 complaints were received about Monday's programme, the majority of which were received before it aired.

During the show, mind control expert Brown assembled 12 people and told them he would be contacting 12 deceased students using a ouija board.

He later revealed it was a hoax designed to show how susceptible people could be convinced seances were real.

Although Channel 4 received 487 telephone calls and e-mails complaining about the show, it said only 30 came after transmission.

A Channel 4 spokesman added the majority of the complaints before the show came from church groups.

This was a very thought-provoking show and was always going to be controversial
Channel 4 spokesman
Media regulator Ofcom also received 208 complaints.

The programme became the third most complained about programme, following a screening of The Last Temptation of Christ and spoof documentary Brass Eye.

Brown said although he was cynical about seances, his aim was not to debunk them, merely to encourage people to question them.

The 12 students who took part were told the house was the scene of a mass suicide, and were asked to choose one "victim" to contact. Almost all chose a girl called Jane.

Made up

The terrified volunteers, who had been chosen for their susceptibility to suggestion, then took part in a ouija board session, believing a message was being spelled out from the girl.

Brown then revealed he had made up the suicide story, and the Jane in question was alive and well.

A Channel 4 spokesman said: "Obviously this was a very thought-provoking show and was always going to be controversial. We hope that viewers found it enjoyable and entertaining."

Brown's Russian Roulette televised stunt in October 2003 received 16 complaints calling it distasteful for making light of suicide.

Those complaints were rejected by the broadcasting watchdog.

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