The Paul Daniels Magic Annual, 1982
In the early 1980s there was nothing better on television, as far as I was concerned, than the Paul Daniels Magic Show. Looking it up, I’m quite surprised that it actually was still being made until 1994, but I was at university then, and I was probably pretending I wasn’t a fan of his anymore. I always liked him though, not a lot, but I liked him. I’m lying, I loved him, always. So much so that in the celebrity death carnage of the past year, Paul Daniels’ death in March 2016 is still the one I’m most affected by. It’s partly because he was such a presence online, on his blog and on Twitter, so I tangibly miss him from there. The fact that our politics were so far apart was completely irrelevant, and it’s a testament to how much I thought of him that when Hurricane Brexit hit in June 2016, I was actually sorry he wasn’t here to see it, assuming (perhaps wrongly) that he would have been a Leave voter.
I realised that I never wrote an update to my post on looking for Debbie McGee’s cookbook, Dining with Debbie, a Magical Touch. I’d seen interviews promoting the book, but the book itself was nowhere to be found. I contacted Paul on Twitter to ask about it and he told me that the planned publisher had gone under before the book could be published and so it was languishing in limbo. He did, however, offer to send me a DVD-ROM version of the book for £12, which I readily agreed to. A short email correspondence about sending the money to his paypal account (which I was slightly thrilled to see was in his real name of Newton) and asking for my address, was hugely exciting to the 8-year-old me, who never lurks too far below the surface.
I was a big magic fan as a kid. I had the magic sets with trick wands and cups and balls, I attempted unsuccessfully to unpeel a banana which was supposed to fall into slices after making small holes with a pin all the way round. And I read and re-read this book, The Paul Daniels Magic Annual, which I’m sure I got as a present for Christmas 1982. My husband bought this copy for me a few years ago, to replace the long-lost book of my childhood, and I happily remembered every page quite clearly.
He talks about how he became a magician (or “funjuror”), with his discovery as an 11 year old of an Victorian book called “How to Entertain at Parties” (note: new book search initiated). He further developed his skills during his national service in Asia, taking part in Service concerts (imagining It Ain’t Half Hot, Mum here), got his big break on The Wheeltappers and Shunters Social Club TV variety show, and coming up with his catchphrase on stage when a heckler insulted his suit. “I answered him by saying “Oh, that’s a shame because I like yours. Not a lot – but I like it.” This got a big laugh so I decided to keep it in the act.”
Read below – (if you click on the images, new non-blurry pages will appear.)
A nice biography bit here about his mate, silent magician Ali Bongo. His real name, according to Paul, “is the most guarded secret of all” , although not any more. He was William Oliver Wallace and he had a truly illustrious magical career, writing many books and becoming magical advisor for programmes such as Doctor Who and Jonathan Creek (which was also inspired by him).
More tricks, and a full on 80s shot of Paul with Julio Iglesias. I tried all these tricks, with varying degrees of success (bad to terrible).
He finishes with another array of tricks to try at home. I never did the Rubik’s Cube trick which involved having to make a shell cover for it, “in cardboard or tin, if you have a friend who is a metal worker.” I did not have a friend who was a metal worker.
I recently saw an article about a an old Heineken campaign featuring Paul, which had “magically” reappeared after many years when a billboard was removed, revealing the last poster which had been pasted on the bare wall underneath. It seemed fitting that there was a kind of final “reveal” for the master magician, in his native Yorkshire as well.