6th April 1938 - 17th March 2016
Saturday 19th March 2016
Remembered by Duncan Trillo
Paul Daniels started out performing in working men's clubs where he honed his quick-witted ad-libs and brilliant magic routines to perfection. He made his TV debut on ITV's talent show Opportunity Knocks, but it was really his three appearances on The Wheeltappers and Shunters Social Club YouTube in 1975 and 1976 that shot him to fame nationwide. This led on to him ultimately having his own BBC series The Paul Daniels Magic Show, which ran for 15 years; dominating the British magic scene throughout the 80s and early 90s. He also enjoyed great success in London's West End, starring in his own show It's Magic at the Prince of Wales Theatre, from December 1980 to February 1982, and was by then working with his future wife, Debbie McGee. Debbie, a trained ballet dancer, had first worked with Paul on his summer season in Great Yarmouth in 1979.
My personal memories of early Paul Daniels and the super-talent that he was will always remain vivid. I was lucky enough to have seen him live, in what I consider to be his best performing period, and natural habitat, when he appeared at a night club in Bournemouth on September 9th, 1975. I'd seen him on TV on The Wheeltappers and Shunters Social Club and also on the BBC magic series For My Next Trick which ran in the summer of 1975, so couldn't wait to actually see his full club act live.
I went with school friend John Rogers and kept the flyer, on the left, as a souvenir. Daniels was incredible! He must have done about 40 minutes. From memory he performed the Chop Cup (that should read his Chop Cup, as no other magician ever came close), borrowed Banknote in Walnut, in Egg, in Lemon, Electric Chairs and more. There was a real underlying charm and playfulness and sense of fun throughout his whole performance, combined with cheeky one-liners and, at that time, just the right level of confidence and command... you knew you were watching the very best. He had an instant ad-lib for everything, everyone, and every situation, and his comic timing was perfect. His magic timing was perfect. His choice of magic was perfect. He was simply brilliant! A bit like a band's first album, I think those early years were pretty much unsurpassable.
Little did I know that 30 years on I'd be appearing, with my wife Keiko, on his show, The Paul Daniels Show: Encore! - a special one-off gala that John Fisher had produced as part of The Magic Circle Centenary Celebration Convention held in London in July 2005. Paul Daniels was once again very much on form and it was a great night.
Back in the early '70s David Nixon said of Paul Daniels "Definitely destined for super stardom" and so he was. I was always amazed by his never-ending zeal, not just for magic, but for life itself. I'm sure the whole magic community would like to pass on their love to Debbie and family.
Duncan Trillo, March 2016