You’re going to like this…not a lot! But you’ll like it
Magician Paul Daniels was one of the UK’s most successful entertainers for more than 40 years.
Born in Middlesbrough and becoming a council clerk after national service in the Army, he’d developed an interest in magic as a child, but had a young family of his own before he took up magic full time.
He borrowed his stage name, Paul – his real name was Newton Edward Daniels – from his son and had a successful summer season performing in Newquay, before an appearance on TV talent show Opportunity Knocks made his name.
By the end of the 1970s, he was a full-blown star, mystifying audiences with dramatic staged illusions, close up card tricks and astonishing sleight of hand, with the help of assistant – “The lovely Debbie McGee” – who became his devoted second wife in 1988. He signed off his shows with the words “...and that’s magic.”
In addition to his magic shows, Paul fronted popular quiz show including Every Second Counts and Wipeout and was for a time the king of light entertainment.
Perhaps most famously, he faked his own death in a live Halloween TV special in 1987. He was padlocked into a torture device lined with iron spikes and it slammed shut in front of a hushed studio audience. The magician did not emerge. The audience was told to leave and the closing credits rolled in silence.
Viewers were aghast. More than 1,000 people immediately rang the BBC to check that he was okay. It caused a media uproar.
People are quick to complain when a format’s boring, the magician later wrote in his own defence, in a letter to the Telegraph. It’s a no-win if you do something outside the norm and people still complain.
Aggrieved, he also pointed out that the programme had begun with “definite instructions” for the nervous to switch off before his final trick.
Fellow magicians were among the fans to pay fulsome tribute to Paul when he died. Among them was Dynamo, who said: “If there was anyone to look at from the UK as an inspiration in magic it was Paul Daniels.”