The Magic of Paul Daniels
Sadly Paul Daniels passed away on Thursday 17th March 2016. He will be missed.
An Intro to Paul Daniels:
Through the centuries, Britain has produced a number of very famous entertainers. One of the better known magicians in the recent history of magic would undoubtedly be Yorkshire-born (April 6th 1938 and passed away 17th March 2016) Paul Daniels who became a familiar face on our television screens during the years 1970 to the 1990’s. Paul Daniel, born Newton Edward Daniels, became interested in magic after reading a book ‘How to Entertain at Parties’ when he was aged 11 and knew at that stage he truly wanted to be a professional magician. His father was a cinema projectionist then a grocer that prompted Paul to start his own grocery business. He spent most of his evenings and spare time performing at parties for servicemen, having been a national serviceman himself and also performed in local clubs. Working Men’s Clubs were the starting place for many entertainers and to survive these tough venues gave many magicians a really sound grounding for the entertainment business. Constantly being heckled, Paul came up with a long running catchphrase “You’ll like this – Not a lot –But you’ll like it”.
A major break came for Paul in 1969 when he was offered a season to perform at Newquay, so he sold the grocery business and so began his full time career in magic. He made his first television debut on the long running talent show Opportunity Knocks in 1970. Then followed further T V shows like Wheel Tapper and Shunters Social Club. Paul seemed to have a very natural flair for television magic. His first BBC series began with For my Next Trick series alongside fellow magicians that soon led to his very own BBC television show, “The Paul Daniels Magic Show”. This extremely popular series ran from 1979 – 1994 and was watched by millions around the world. During this period, I was living in South Africa and because of the apartheid era there was an international boycott on overseas entertainment. However with the generosity of an Irish magician friend, he kindly forwarded each Paul Daniel’s instalment via a PAL video, so that our magical society was able to watch and enjoy Paul’s Daniel’s.
The Paul Daniels Show:
The Paul Daniels Magic Show featured some incredible magic all with that special Daniel’s humour from miniature close-up tricks to large extravagant illusions. His magic ranged from audience participation, many guest artistes including fellow magicians and top class variety acts. Live animals like performing seals, chimpanzees, and dogs. He could make the simplest magic trick appear unbelievable and many watching magicians would dust off their own tricks and begin to perform them, having been stimulated by Pauls presentations. In many of his major television shows he introduced his ”Bunko Booth” where he would expose many of the street confidence trickster’s methods. He had the ability to transform so many readily available magic tricks from a magic shop into lovely showpieces. I distinctly remember him presenting the Squared Circle that most magicians have owned and discarded but in Paul’s hands it was a delightful piece. I remember too his wonderful routine with a little girl on stage as he performed the Linking Rings which he referred to as the “Ring of Confidence” to the little lady who became the real star. His treatment of children was a real lesson in stage courtesy and theatre etiquette where each child was made to feel truly special.
As well as his many television series and guest appearances, Paul had a great love for live theatre shows and pantomime. He was as comfortable on stage, as he was in front of the cameras. In his own words”
Even if you only intend to do close-up magic you should still try to learn all aspects of theatre, including lighting and sound. Join a local acting group and learn, learn, learn”. This is a very good lesson to take from a highly successful performer.
With his reputation as one of the most popular society and show business entertainers in the world of television he has enjoyed immense success. From the moment he burst onto the ITV network then switching to BBC; his magic shows topped the ratings. An independent book on TV Facts calls him the most successful television magician of the 20th century. His creative genius enabled him to produce consistently stunning shows, never rivaled in spectacle. His magic tricks are clever, some simple but all of them thoroughly entertaining and in his hands completely mystifying. He presents not only stage illusions of the highest calibre but massive outdoor illusions on a grand scale as well. A truly all round magician.
Wife and Assistant – Debbie McGee:
His long-time assistant Debbie McGee became an integral part of the Paul Daniels Magic Show and they finally married in 1988 and appeared on numerous T V programmes together. They made the ideal show business partnership. They originally met in 1979 when Paul was rehearsing for his summer season in Bournemouth and then his London Show, It’s Magic. Earlier Debbie had performed as his assistant on numerous variety shows and accompanied him on seasonal performances all over Britain. In his autobiography, “Under No Illusion” he describes his and Debbie’s partnership, as their “Joking Life Together“.
Despite his success as a performer, Paul was often a very outspoken person who if he had a strong view about politics or current affairs would voice his opinion quite vocally. Like many of his magician forbears, Paul took a stand against those that claimed to have paranormal powers by replicating the kind of results parapsychologists demonstrated in his “Under Laboratory Conditions” segment. In 2012 New Year’s Day Paul had an accident in his home workshop, cutting off his left forefinger and the tip of his ring finger. Thanks to quick action and good surgery his finger was successfully reattached. Imagine this happening to a top class magician! Catastrophe!
The Prestige of Paul Daniels:
Paul Daniels took his magic to the USA, Canada, New Zealand, most of Europe and Japan, and had performed more unique magic on television than any other magician in history. He had performed before World Heads of State, Prime Ministers and many of the Royal Families at home and abroad. He had also headlined in Las Vegas and London’s West End.
Paul Daniels had been the recipient of many prestigious awards throughout his magical career. These include “The Magician of the Year” in 1983 by the Hollywood Academy of Magical Arts. He was the only magician to have been conferred with the three highest awards by the Magic Circle London that included The Maskelyne Award for Services to British Magic. He and Debbie McGee had established legendary status as performers of the highest calibre and helped make magic the wonderful entertainment it has become. Semi-retired, Paul and Debbie lived on the banks of the river Thames in Berkshire where he ran a magic and costume shop in Wigan. In the years before his death, Paul with his wife still appeared at International Magic Conventions and he also acted as a consultant to a number of top class performers. Paul Daniels is indeed a legend both of our time and in the history of magic. Undoubtedly a name to conjure up through history.
Follow the Magic Tricks For Kids Team to Keep Up With New Posts!
Do you want to read more about the history of magic? Click here!