74th British Ring IBM Convention
22nd - 26th September 2010, Eastbourne
Update 15, July 2010
Bob Hayden, British Ring PRO
One of the country’s most iconic magicians of the past half century is Wayne Dobson, becoming a household name through his various television appearances in the late 1980’s. A change in his approach to magic was necessary when he was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis but it did not stop him continuing to perform which he still does today, although to a lesser extent. Being highly regarded among fellow professionals he has found himself as a lecturer at societies and conferences. Together with his wife Marianne, who he married in 2005, he runs DTRIK, a business developing and marketing magic tricks. At Eastbourne we are being invited to ‘An Audience With Wayne Dobson’.
How did magic come into Wayne’s life? He was just a youngster when he discovered magic for the first time. He recalls his earliest moment of magic was going to a children’s party and watching a magician tear some tissue paper turning it into a bunch of flowers. Like any young boy, he couldn’t get over it. But it was watching television that increased his passion to get involved. This was fulfilled when Mum and Dad gave him a David Nixon magic set as a present for Christmas. He fell in love with it and magic became an obsession, not just a passing craze that becomes boring. He wanted to find out more and more about the history of magic and how to perform exciting new tricks.
Years later on a school trip to the British Museum he discovered Davenport’s Magic Shop and wandered in. It was a treasure trove of magic, everything he thought a magic shop should be. Behind the counter was Pat Page who soon was showing him a series of tricks. One that blew him away involved three silver cups and three balls which turned into fruit and vegetables. Unable at the time to buy the ‘Cups and Balls’, he bought the book on how to do the trick and practised at home with teacups. Rigorously saving his pocket money it was the first prop he bought and the first professional trick he performed. Pat Page throughout his life was to become Wayne’s great friend and mentor and later magical advisor to his television programmes.
Through his teens he worked on his magic perfecting his skills and having great fun performing to friends and family and the occasional show at the local club in Leicester. He acknowledges it was David Nixon who had the greatest influence on him, watching his shows sparking off in him a future dream career. His interest in close-up magic was influenced by Dai Vernon, revered by all modern day magicians. At just 16 years Wayne was demonstrating a great flair for originality and started picking up local engagements and club work on a semi professional basis. Not knowing exactly what he wanted to do with himself he stayed at school until he was 18, then drifted into work in a sock factory.
Wayne’s magic skills continue to develop and in 1977 was a joint first prize winner in the Close-up competition at the British Ring Convention. This led to his TV debut on BBC’s Blue Peter. At 21 he gambled as to what was to be his future career and became a professional magician. It was a gamble that would pay off handsomely.
Wayne’s original style of magic with fast talking patter and hilarious split second one liners achieved him great things on the difficult British Club circuit. A run of tours with some of the top UK performers ensued, opening for Freddie Starr, Shirley Bassey and the Shadows. He was picked up by TV companies and performed on a number of top shows. 1988 saw him on a comprehensive American tour accompanying Engelbert Humperdinck performing in the likes of Las Vegas, Lake Tahoe and Hollywood.
In 1989 Wayne was chosen to appear in The Royal Variety Show where his uproarious routine with Frank Bruno and Harry Carpenter is still remembered today. Wayne was now in great demand making a weekly guest appearance on the Joe Longthorne show with a mixture of close-up magic and illusion. Next he was offered his own TV show Wayne Dobson - A Kind of Magic, a show which was to enjoy a run of three series.
But there was a black cloud on the horizon. Wayne was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 1989. Although he knew this would eventually come to limit his mobility he was determined to carry on working. Over the next two decades, in a wheelchair, even with his condition getting gradually worse, this he has achieved. He talks about his condition straight away at the start of his show putting people at their ease. Wayne has learnt to adjust his act to suit his disability. He knows he can’t do certain things physically and will not attempt them. He says it is a case of finding new methods and adjusting and re-choreographing the act. If anything, Wayne feels that his illness has made him more positive. When people say to him you’re so brave his reply is ‘I’m not really, it’s just the way I am. I want to get on with things. Anyone with a disability, with the right attitude and the right way of doing things, can contribute to society. What is important is the feeling you have made a contribution.’ What an inspiring philosophy.
In An Audience with Wayne Dobson, Wayne will talk about his life, answer questions and show video clips from his extensive career; many of them having never been seen before. Make sure you are in the Congress Theatre on Friday morning for this star event.
Bob Hayden, British Ring PRO, July 2010. www.britishring.org.uk