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Magician defends gun stunt fake

Brown: "Terrific piece of television."

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Should TV companies show dangerous stunts like Russian roulette?

LONDON, England -- A British magician who staged a game of Russian roulette on live television says he is delighted that his stunt has been exposed as a hoax.

On his Channel Four program, broadcast on Saturday night, Derren Brown had a volunteer put a single bullet in a gun. He repeatedly put the gun to his head and squeezed the trigger. Eventually he pointed the gun at the floor and blew a hole in a sandbag.

The show was broadcast from Jersey, an island in the English Channel, because Brown said he had to perform the stunt abroad to get round British laws prohibiting handguns. However, police later revealed the bullet fired was a blank.

"We knew before this stunt took place that there was no risk of serious injury to anybody and we discussed this with Channel Four in some detail before it took place," Jersey's Deputy Chief of Police Lenny Harper told Reuters.

The magician himself told the news agency: "It probably sounds odd. But as a magic-related performer to have that event being asked: Was it real? Was it not real? That lifts it to a level that -- I'm very comfortable with.

"What's left is that fact that it was a terrific piece of television," Brown added.

In the wake of a spate of gun attacks in recent days, the stunt had earlier been attacked for fears that someone might copy it.

Rick Naylor, chief superintendent of South Yorkshire Police and vice president of the Police Superintendents' Association, said the show was irresponsible.

"I'm flabbergasted," he said. "It sends entirely the wrong message. This is just a stunt. You're going to get copycat kids doing this and we're possibly going to end up with some tragedies."

The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy also said the stunt could encourage vulnerable persons to consider suicide.

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