Performers: Simon Drake, Alan Alan, James Randi, Sean Manchester, Jay Marshall, Charlie Marsden, Lloyd Williams, Sue Brent and Ricky Jay.
Programme: The Secret Cabaret with Simon Drake. Series 1 / Show 5.
Date: 6th February 1990
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Nearly 35 years in the making! Starting in the early 80s with a Sanyo Betamax, closely followed by a Sony and then a Panasonic VHS, I would record as much magic as I could. I'd not only record the main TV magic shows of the day, but also guest appearances on chat shows and so on. Ultimately all these tapes went from bookcases to storage boxes, and that's where they've been patiently sitting ever since... until just a few weeks ago that is.
Fortunately I've always been pretty organised, so every tape had a card in its slip-case, listing the main contents, although I did get a little lazy as the years went by, skipping some details. The cards are now being entered into Excel and the tapes themselves (many hundreds) are in amazing condition and play well, allowing for the inherent limitations of the Betamax/VHS format. I'm selecting short clips to transfer as best I can to digital and then share via YouTube. MagicWeek will upload a new clip every week.
Some will have already been posted to YouTube no doubt, but many will be making their YouTube debuts, together forming an archive of magic as seen on British terrestrial television in the 80s, 90s and early 00s. In fact, although I didn't own a video recorder until around 1982, programmes would occasionally be repeated, so there are some clips in the archive that were first shown in the late 70s.
Just as the current 'News', 'What's On' and 'TV Magic' pages in MagicWeek reflect the British magic scene as it is today, these short clips will of course reflect the magic scene as it was back then. You'll see a real cross-section of magic at varying levels (not just personal favourites). These clips won't be uploaded in any specific order, so you'll never know what's coming next - which will keep the whole project fresh.
I think I was following an inbuilt 'collector' instinct when I started to record all the magic that I could, or perhaps it was just that until the invention of video you only got to see something once on television and then that was it - gone forever, so they needed to be 'saved'? Either way, nearly 35 years on since that first "press record" moment, something told me that now was a good time to get these tapes out to see just what we'd got. There are some amazing clips to be seen.
By around the early 2000s I more or less stopped making recordings as by then VHS was on the way out and the set top box on the way in. Also, a lot of what was being shown on television, from new magic stars such as Dynamo and Derren Brown, was readily available on DVD anyway.
I'm sure that the vast majority of magicians will be happy for these old magic clips to be seen; after all that's what they were made for in the first place. They will all have clear dates on them, so that there is no confusing them for being 'current'. Most TV companies are also fine for short historical clips to be shown.
You'll be able to leave comments for individual clips that you like, and subscribe on YouTube - please do.
I hope you enjoy this short weekly burst of magic from "back in the day"!
Duncan Trillo/MagicWeek, 21st May 2016.