Wayne Dobson


Wayne Dobson was born in Leicester and was just a youngster when he discovered the fun of magic for the first time:

"One of my earliest memories as a young boy is going to a children's party and watching a magician tear up some tissue paper turning it into a bunch of flowers - I couldn't get over it. I suppose I was like any young boy, I watched magic on television and naturally wanted to get involved. When I was nine my Mum and Dad gave me a David Nixon Magic Set as a present for Christmas, which really started me off. That was it. I loved it and soon became fascinated with the whole idea. Unlike most crazes that became boring after a while, magic was an obsession with me and I wanted to find out more and more about the history of magic and how to perform new and exciting tricks."

Years later on a school trip to London Wayne really realised the hold that magic had over him.

"We were on a school outing to the British Museum, and I discovered one of the world's most celebrated magic shops, Davenports, and wandered in. It was like an Aladdin's cave to me. Instead of gold, silver and jewels, this marvellous place was packed with fantastic tricks, wonderful magical equipment, books and authentic posters of the great illusionists. Old ventriloquist dolls hung from the walls and ceiling. It was a treasure trove of magic, everything I thought a magic shop should be. The gentleman behind the counter was Pat Page, himself an adept and skilful magician. I told him of my great passion for magic and we struck up an instant rapport. Before long, he was showing me how to perform a series of tricks. The one which really blew me away involved three silver cups and three balls which turned into fruit and vegetables. 'That's real magic, I can't do that,' I said. 'You can,' Pat replied. As I couldn't afford to buy the cups and balls, the equipment was far too expensive for a mere schoolboy, I just bought the book on how to do the trick and practised at home with teacups. It was the first professional trick I ever performed. Eventually, I saved all my pocket money and went back and bought the 'Cups and Balls.' Today, they are among my most treasured possessions. Pat Page has since become my great friend and mentor and was magical adviser for my television appearances. After that first visit, I used to spend many of my weekends in London, visiting magic shops and talking about magic, learning as much as I could. I then started doing tricks properly and because my school friends were impressed, I felt good. I pestered my local library for all the magic books available on the library circuit..."

Throughout his teens he worked on his magic becoming a real master and having great fun performing to friends and family, and the occasional show at his local youth club.

"David Nixon was a great influence on me. His shows sparked off my whole career."

Wayne was also inspired by another brilliant man of magic, Dai Vernon.

"I think it was because of Dai Vernon's influence that I became so interested in close-up magic. He was revered, and rightly so, by all the modern-day magicians and illusionists. He was one of the great innovators. The 'Cups and Balls' routine was one of his specialities."

At just 16 Wayne was demonstrating great flair and originality and started to pick up local engagements and club work, although always on a semi-professional basis.

"Because I didn't know what to do with my life, I stayed on at school until I was 18, then I drifted into work in a sock factory. I started as a sample dyer, matching up shades for the dyes which went into the socks. But when it was discovered that I was colour blind - I can't tell mid-blue from green or dark blue from black - I was moved on to operate a row of sixteen knitting machines, turning out a thousand pairs of socks a day!"

But all along Wayne was developing his magic skills, and in 1977 was a joint first prize winner in the close-up competition at the IBM British Ring Convention. This led to his television debut on BBC TV's Blue Peter. At just 21 he decided to become a professional magician.

"Turning pro was a big gamble to take. I gave up a steady job and a regular income to chance everything on a career in show business."

The gamble paid off. Wayne was achieving great things on the notoriously difficult British club circuit. His original style of magic with fast talking patter and hilarious split-second one liners was having its effect. A run of tours with some of the UK's top performers ensued; Wayne opened for Freddie Starr, Shirley Bassey and the Shadows. The TV companies picked up on Wayne's magic and he performed on a number of top shows. In 1988 accompanied Engelbert Humperdinck on a comprehensive American tour which saw him entertaining in Las Vegas, Lake Tahoe, Hollywood, Los Angeles, Atlantic City and Chicago. The tour was a tremendous success.

"America was a great challenge for me, it gave me great confidence and was a fantastic grounding. It taught me so much and gave me the chance to develop and expand my own boundaries as both a magician and a performer."

Back in Britain in 1989 he was chosen to appear before HM Queen Elizabeth in the Royal Variety Show at the London Palladium and had the audience in fits of laughter with his hilarious routine assisted by Frank Bruno and Harry Carpenter. Wayne was in great demand and later on in the year made a guest appearance each week on the Joe Longthorne show, presenting a mixture of close up magic and illusion. This lead to him being offered his own TV series and 'Wayne Dobson - A Kind of Magic' was born. The series was aired nationally on Saturday nights on ITV and another two series were commissioned such was its success.

"Magic has come a long way. We've pushed the limits of magic to its widest boundaries, yet we can still go further. We now have the technology and there really is no limit to where the art of magic can go in the future."

Top Trick?
"Asrah. No boxes, no fancy props, just pure magic. I first saw Siegfried and Roy perform this illusion at the Frontier Hotel, Las Vegas, about 20 years ago... I was totally baffled."

Top Book?
"I don't have a favourite, but have been very inspired by the following: Our Magic - Maskelyne and Devant, all the Roy Johnson books, and books by Dia Vernon, Slydini, and Alan Shaxon."

Top Magician?
"Patrick Page - A brilliant all rounder and a wealth of information, he also has numerous methods for doing anything."

Top Magic Quote?
"Only do what you're good at, and it looks like you are good at everything you do! - Wayne Dobson"

Top Magic Moment?
"The Royal Variety Performance."



MagicWeek 2002