Paul Daniels is an old fashioned entertainer. Dad jokes aside, the magician is a welcome blast from the past, borne of an era when there was more to illusions than trickery.
Speaking from his home in Berkshire, where he lives with the lovely Debbie McGee and his two rabbits Gil and Hopper Seven, the conjurer took a break from his “first farewell” tour to chat to The Advertiser.
In his mild Yorkshire twang, the 75-year-old revealed that his latest performance was more comedic than in the past, saying: “We’ve always suffered audiences members saying:‘I never knew you were that funny’ or ‘Ay lad, you made me laugh’. When we did the Edinburgh Fringe, people said we were the funniest there. If you go to see a comedian or a play, there’s a plot. For many years, I brought in new illusions to break my monotony.”
On inspiration for new material, Debbie, his ever-present assistant and wife of 25 years, piped up: “He reads all the time. Something will trigger his brain and he’ll think ‘that would work well with a trick’.”
Having performed all over the world, the magician denied the existence of a ‘tough crowd’. “There’s no such thing, only bad acts. All audiences are the same: tall, short, fat, thin.” Never missing a trick, he added: “Comperes always say to me, don’t you attract a nice audience...”
Despite wanting to be a magician from the age of 11, Newton “Ted” Daniels worked as a grocer, a projectionist at a cinema and as an internal auditor before finding fame pulling rabbits out of hats in the 1970s.
“A magician is playing a part. I like performing and I like making people laugh and creating the illusion,” he explained. Although a seasoned TV magician, he said he’d always preferred performing in theatre: “You can sense the audience’s response and feel them watching.”
Playful, good-humoured and frank, when the Advertiser admitted owning a Paul Daniels magic set as a child, he thanked our parents for their donation.
When put on the spot for a trick over the phone, quick as a flash, he obliged. And, true to his own hype, it did make us giggle.
Paul Daniels is appearing at the Pavilion Arts Centre, Buxton, on October 2. Tickets start at £16.50 and are available via the Buxton Opera House website or by phoning the box office on 0845 127 2190.