It all started about four months ago, when I saw an advert in Time Out which went along the lines of "People wanted for new TV show - The System - where contestants could end up winning a life changing amount of money". Being poor, the phrase "life changing amount of money" is very appealing to me, and in my little life, I don't come across this phrase very often. When I take my son to playgroup, and one of the other mums calls me over saying "I've got something for you", it's never a life changing amount of money, it's usually a book called "How to stop toddlers taking over and turning you into a nervous wreck." So I felt compelled to fill out the long online application form and got called for a camera interview. I was reassured that the show was not in any way dodgy or embarrassing, they just couldn't tell me anything about it as the show was a secret. So I sat there, in front of the camera, answering their questions "How much is a life changing amount of money to you?" (£500k) "Do you take risks?" (No. But I have done a parachute jump before, which is a bit of a risk). "Do you consider yourself to be unlucky?" (No....waffle waffle...sometimes...waffle waffle....Yes).
They had three weeks of auditions to get through, but I had a strange feeling I would be picked somehow and excited when I got the confirmation email. All they could tell me was that the show was about horse racing and a tipster would give me a series of tips, all I had to do initially was watch the race without betting any money. I was a bit concerned due to the fact that I don't really agree with horse racing, it's against my principles. But as I am quite greedy, and ready to overlook my ethics, what with the pound signs in my eyes getting in the way, I thought I'd go along with it. I also thought if I did win a life changing amount of money, I could make up for it by sending a load of horses off for a spa day or something.
Now while all this was going on, I'm trying to figure out what it's all about. I just happened to be reading Derren Brown's book "Tricks of the mind" at the time, and started thinking it could be something to do with him, I'm not sure why. I then looked up Objective Productions, the company behind the show, and saw that they were behind Derren Brown's TV shows. It was weird as well, Derren kept popping up everywhere, in magazines, pictures, interviews. It was around this time I came across an interview of his in a magazine and texted my sister with the urgent news "DERREN BROWN IS GAY!!!". She was as shocked as I. We both fancied him quite a bit, although after finding out he was gay, it did seem really obvious that he was so, totally gay. And funny how it puts you off. Like a relationship was ever in the wings.
To be honest I went off him a bit when I read his book. He is an illusionist, an entertainer. I was expecting something a bit lighthearted, but it was just one huge rant, and many things got my goat. His dislike for religion and alternative therapies was quite offensive and totally irrelevant. I don't care what you think Derren, I just like the way you do your hocus pocus, talk about that. I found a lot of what he wrote was hypocritical and misleading. I thought he was so vain to think that we would be that interested the narrow minded views of an entertainer. Not a scientist, not a medical expert, an entertainer, someone who in a home filing system somewhere, could be filed in the same category as Paul Daniels. He went from being a fantasy playmate to a gay man who stopped being fanciable and talks a load of rubbish. And to be honest, I've been a bit miffed with him ever since the time I went to see him live, where I got pulled up on stage as a volunteer, took part in a Ouija board, ok it was all very clever what with the glass moving about and all that, but then as he shook my hand to thank me for my participation, I puckered my lips for a kiss and he walked off!! So, to save myself from embarrassment from the hundreds of people in the audience watching, I had to keep my lips in the puckered position as I walked back to my seat, as if my lips sometimes naturally fall into this puckered state. No I haven't been turned down for a kiss by Derren Brown, my lips always do this. It's a pout. Or maybe I've just been stung on the lips by a bee. Or maybe, I'm just preparing my lips to give my cousin, who's been sitting in the seat next to me, a kiss when I return to my seat, after being away on the stage for so long. We're Turkish, we're always kissing, us Turks.
So on one hand I was hoping it would be my one time favorite sexy illusionist idol, on the other hand, I was hoping it had nothing to do with the anti kissing rubbish talking non heterosexual.
So I got an email with the tip, a name of a horse, one of those crazy horsey names that I can not even recall and was told not to bet - just to check the results afterwards. Unfortunately the horse didn't win. I received an email shortly afterwards to tell me that as the tip was incorrect, the production company were now having huge reservations about going ahead with the show, thanks for my time, no life changing money, get back to your boring life missus. So I did, and forgot all about it. A few months passed, I then received the following email:
You may not know this sender.Mark as safeMark as unsafe
25 January 2008 12:34:46
We hope you are well and a belated Happy New Year. We realise that it’s been a while since we’ve been in touch but we just want to let you know a bit more about “The System” before it finally goes out on TV. We've not been able to fill you in on everything before for confidentiality reasons.
As you know the programme had a basis in gambling and horse-racing. What you didn’t know was that it was Derren Brown who was providing the predictions behind the winning horses and “The System” is his new one-off special for Channel 4. His operating anonymously was a big part of the show, so unfortunately we weren’t able to tell you it was him behind it. However, you have played an important part and we hope that when you watch it all will make sense and you will see that your involvement was invaluable.
The programme is currently scheduled to go out on Channel 4 on Friday 1st February at 9.00pm so we hope that you’ll be watching and you’ll get a much fuller picture of what we set out to do. We hope too that you’ll be proud that you were a part of it all; these programmes are impossible to achieve without the trust and kindness of people like you, willing to join in with our rather mysterious introduction to an unknown someone's claimed gambling system.
It was a genuine pleasure meeting you and taking things as far as we did and we want to thank you once more for the time you gave us which we are all very much appreciative of.
We wish you all the very best, and hope you like the show.
Associate Producer, Objective Productions
I knew it was him! Then my imagination took off; what do they mean "you have played an important part", all I did was go to the camera audition and receive a useless email. Have they been secretly filming me? Maybe I've actually been down the bookies and Derren has hypnotised me into forgetting all about it? Who was looking after Ky? My imagination then went for a coffee break and I started to see things more realistically. All they have of me on film is the camera audition. So the chances are, they've probably edited that and probably in such a way that I look like a complete idiot. Then my cousin calls me after reading the above email which I forwarded to her, she has spotted a review on her sky listings which states "Derren Brown sends his racing tip to a single mum from London..." Well that's clearly me! I'm the only single mum in London (imagination back from coffee break).
Then my sister saw the trailer for the programme. It definitely wasn't me. It was another single mum from London. What a slap in the face. Not only has Derren Brown chosen someone else to enjoy all the fame and money, but he's cheated on me with another single mum from London. What was the matter? Was I not single mum from London enough for him? First he insults me with his book, then he rejects me in front of a live audience, and now this. I'm beginning to take this all very personally.
After much speculation I read the email again, then I realised it doesn't necessarily imply that I'm featured in the program at all. I think, he sent an email to a selection of people with the crazy name of different horse on each one, and the person who got the email with the name of the horse who happened to win, got to be 'the chosen one'.
Paul Daniels was alright you know. He would have treated me like this.