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Man of magic still great

PUBLISHED: 16:50 02 April 2001 | UPDATED: 15:04 22 October 2010

Paul Daniels @ King's Lynn Arts Centre

Paul Daniels @ King's Lynn Arts Centre

By JOHN LAWSON

It was to be my moment of glory – playing magician's assistant as my son performed a trick for Paul Daniels.

THE Paul Daniels. Husband of the lovely Debbie McGee.

Sadly, I had completely disregarded his advice earlier in the evening: “A trick of mine has never gone wrong – and if it did, the audience certainly never knew.”

And with the greatest audience I am ever likely to play to, I blew it.

Leaving Paul to give the most damning advice of all to my magic-mad son.

“Sack your assistant!” he said.

Daniels, who vanished almost as completely as one of his own rabbits when the BBC pulled the plug on his ratings-topping magic show, is back touring the country.

It's all for the love of Debbie and to aid the financial future of her newly-formed dance company.

The subject was rather ungallantly brought up by a member of the audience during a first half devoted to questions from the floor and anecdotes from Paul's long and distinguished career.

He side-stepped it with the easy charm of a real trooper – but the hurt at his treatment when he was arguably still at the height of his powers still hovered – only faintly concealed – in the background.

He complained at the proliferation of cookery, decorating and gardening programmes on television while mourning the demise of the light-entertainment specials like those he headlined for so long.

If TV channels did not waste quite so much money they would have the budget to pay for them (and him) he argued.

Reminders of just how great he really was came during a levitation finale to the first half and also in a magic-packed second half, the climax of which saw a £10 note personalised by a member of the audience appear inside a walnut – inside an egg – inside a lemon.

Given the choice between seeing that with my own eyes, from a few feet away, and knowing I was being completely duped by someone allegedly making the Statue of Liberty disappear and I know which I would choose.


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