Veteran magician and TV entertainer Paul Daniels will be appearing in Eastleigh this Friday night (October 25).
Daniels and his glamorous assistant wife ‘The lovely Debbie McGee’ will be bringing their stage show to the more intimate, cabaret atmosphere of the Concorde Club.
Paul and Debbie were a mainstay of BBC TV entertainment schedules throughout the 1980’s when he hosted a number of prime time quiz shows like Odd One Out, Every Second Counts and Wipeout. Although the show he is chiefly remembered for – The Paul Daniels Magic Show – was last aired in 1994 the pair have seldom been off our screens for long, appearing in all manner of entertainment shows from Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway to Strictly Come Dancing.
Paul has a nice line in self deprecating humour – he describes himself in his twitter profile as an ‘international sex symbol and body builder.’ His current tour is billed as:
“The First Farewell Tour – from Legend to leg end”
“We were asked to come up with a title and I realised that the Stones and Tina turner seem to have farewell tours all the time, so I thought it was about time we had one!”
They enthuse about the tour “It’s going great, the best tour we’ve ever done.” My information lists 30 dates but they are keen to tell me that it has been extended to 51 “because” Paul says dryly “the show is funny – apparently.”
Paul was first inspired to perform magic as a child after reading a book entitled How to Entertain At Parties and has been entertaining us ever since, but I wonder if he had never read it, would he have still ended up in showbiz anyway?
“No. I was very shy kid when I read that book. You never know which way your life’s going to swing. I just liked what I read and so I never wanted to do anything else. I did do other stuff because like your mum and dad probably said to you :
“It’s time you got a proper job.”
(Amazing! How did he know that? )
TV variety shows always used to feature a magic act – was this a golden age of magic which has now passed away?
“Variety changes all the time. From 1850 going right through to about the 1940s they had a ‘golden age’ of magic when magicians would be top of the bill all the time but as music recording got better that took over. You can’t put a magic act on a disc. They could mass-market music but not magic.
“When television first started it was being run by people from the world of show business; now it’s run by business accountants who have taken media studies, so times change. Maybe it could change back again.”
Previously Paul has been critical of psychics and clairvoyants, is this something he still feels strongly about?
“I talk about it in the current show but we’ve turned it into entertainment.
“I’ve always tried to point out to people that if they go to see a palmist or a pyschic or whatever then just treat it as entertainment – it’s not real.
“In several American states, over the top of the horoscope column in newspapers it says ‘for entertainment purposes only’ and I think that is the way it should be. A lot of them on the psychic spiritualist side are just making money out of people’s emotions and that’s wrong.”
Does he ever see a trick performed and wonder how it’s done?
“I like to shut my brain off and not figure it out but invariably I’ll enjoy the performance and the presentation and performer and then I will come up with the methods ‘cos that’s my job; I just don’t do magic for magic shows, I do magical methods, problem solving for plays and musicals. I can’t help it, it just interests me.”
Indeed Paul is one of biggest authorities in his craft having been honoured by the magic circle a record three times. Customers buying from his online magic shop can get advice on tricks and props from the man himself but he has never given any secrets away.
“Everybody has to start off learning a magic trick somewhere but I don’t give magic tricks away. If you give something for nowt you treat it at that worth, if you want to learn stuff form me you have to pay. Then you will treat what you learn with respect.”
Daniels has a reputation as a hardworking performer- he was reportedly treated for cuts to his hand sustained while building props in his workshop on New Year’s Day. Even so, for a man in his 70s a fifty plus date tour might seem little gruelling. I wonder if he has any other projects lined up, but I should have known better.
He quickly tells me they will be breaking their UK tour for a tour of Denmark and that over Christmas Debbie will be appearing in pantomime with Dani Harmer at the Hexagon, Reading, additionally he has a full schedule of private gigs and corporate appearances and is even considering a script for an acting role.
Ok, so what can we expect to see at the Concorde on Friday?
“We will concentrate on baffling people and I will be wrapping it all up in comedy.”
“Debbie will be performing three or four routines herself so I will be providing the glamour – you’ll love the frock darling!”
Blimey! Paul Daniels in a frock? Could be worth the price of a ticket itself!
“Paul Daniels The First Farewell Tour – From Legend to leg end” is at the Concorde Club Friday October 25 for full details click here