THOSE who have watched him on TV, seen his extraordinary shows or read his book will know that Derren Brown is an astonishing, mesmerising and utterly baffling talent.

Now the master of illusion is kicking off his mind-meddling UK tour Derren Brown Live: An Evening of Wonders, at Blackpool Grand Theatre - and he promises lots of audience participation.

"Although I can't reveal much at this stage, I can say that this show will be dark, full of surprises," said Derren.

The Croydon-born illusionist's brand of psychological jiggery pokery fuses elements of magic, suggestion, psychology, misdirection and showmanship.

Whether he appears to be reading people's minds, contacting the dead, guessing people's dreams or telling them their detailed medical history just by looking at them the results seem to defy logic.

Yet what's refreshing about Brown is his open and honest approach to what he does.

He cheerfully reveals that he can't read people's minds or commune with the afterlife - his skill is to make it look like he can.

And as well as a UK tour, Derren is back on our screens with a new series, Trick Or Treat.

Derren explained: "I intercept a person each week in a surprising fashion and get them to blindly choose a trick or treat card on the understanding that if they choose a trick card something horrible will happen to them and if they pick a treat card something pleasant will occur.

"In effect, they sign a Faustian contract that allows me to do anything I want".

The volunteers have no idea which card has been chosen and are subject to secret filming as Derren tampers with their lives.

Some of the results are sure to spark controversy and complaint.

For example, as Derren alluded: "One woman who chooses a trick card later finds herself witnessing her own death in a staged out-of-body experience".

It is this manipulative ability to be playful, charming and shocking at the same time that has attracted Derren so much attention, as well as a legion of admirers.

His stunt with Robbie Williams in the last series of Trick of the Mind, in which he graphically pierced the pop star's arms with needles, drew tabloid headlines. Will his new series will be as shocking?

"I can't give too much away," said Derren.

"Although with The League of Gentlemen I took them through a potentially dark sequence involving chocolate mini-rolls and tried to influence the actor Simon Callow through the portrait I painted of him".

Another aspect of the new series is a return to America, where he baffles New Yorkers with a series of stunts and con tricks.

"Because I'm not as well known out there it allows me to do things I can't do over here - like going into shops and paying for things with just blank pieces of paper," he said.

His relative anonymity Stateside may not last much longer as there are plans for a TV series with one of the networks and he'd love to stage a live show on Broadway.

But the challenge is to find the time to fit everything in - particularly as he is also developing another special for Channel 4 and planning an exhibition of his celebrity portraits.

He confessed: "I haven't had a proper week off in five years, but I feel very fortunate to be able to work as much as I do."

See Derren at Blackpool Grand Theatre, on Saturday, April 29. Call 01253 290190 or book online at the address below.