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Last Updated: Friday, 6 January 2006, 08:14 GMT
Union attacks illusionist's Heist
Derren Brown
Derren Brown has courted controversy with past specials
Channel 4 is facing complaints from a trade union over a programme which saw members of the public take part in a fake "armed robbery".

The Heist saw illusionist Derren Brown "persuade" a group of businessmen to take part in what they believed was a genuine armed raid.

But the GMB, which represents thousands of security workers, called Wednesday's show "irresponsible and insensitive".

It said it would be complaining to Ofcom and the City of London Police.

Senior organiser Martin Hird said Channel 4 was wrong to broadcast the programme "in light of increases in violent attacks on security staff".

"We also have serious concerns about the programme being produced with involvement from the police and banking community," he said.


But a Channel 4 spokesman defended it as "a thought-provoking, intelligent and entertaining special".

"Derren demonstrated how far mind techniques and powers of persuasion could be used to influence people," he added.

"The experiments featured, including the heist itself, were all carried out in a controlled environment using stunt actors and a toy gun in a closed-off road. No one was ever in any danger and the police were aware of the filming.

"The tone of the programme also made it very clear that attempting any form of robbery was criminal behaviour."

Brown sparked a barrage of complaints in 2003 when he played Russian roulette live on Channel 4, and survived.

The following year, he courted controversy by staging a live "seance" on the network.

But broadcasting watchdogs declined to uphold complaints about either programme.

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