Paul Daniels


Born in South Bank, Cleveland, where his parents managed the local Hippodrome Theatre Paul's first taste of magic came at the age of 11. He was on holiday at the time, staying with friends, when he discovered a book called "How To Entertain At Parties," which contained several card tricks. He soon became hooked "From that moment, I can safely say that all I ever wanted to do in life was to become a professional magician," he says. Unfortunately for Paul, he had to knuckle down to the more mundane things in life, like growing up and going to school. Stardom had to wait, at least for the time being. However, his interest in magic increased, and he was soon entertaining at parties and youth clubs.

He left school at 16 and went straight into local government, working as a junior clerk, and later becoming an internal auditor. Yet, whatever spare time he had on his hands, he spent developing new magic ideas and techniques. And entertaining at private functions.

Two years later, he was summoned for National Service. He enlisted into the First Battalion, The Green Howards and was sent on active duty to Hong Kong. There, he combined his time serving Queen and country, by entertaining American servicemen who were also stationed in the Colony. In a short space of time, Paul had built up a big reputation for himself.

On demobilisation, and back home in Cleveland, he decided to leave the security of the Civil Service to manage a small, mobile grocery business his parents now owned. Adds Paul: "The business proved very successful and I was soon able to buy my own shop. But it meant that I was now working harder than ever before because every single night I was out entertaining with my magic act and trying to combine two successful jobs was almost killing me. Something had to be done. I had to make a choice. Luckily, the decision was made for me when I landed a long and lucrative summer season in Newquay. I decided to sell my grocery business and I took the chance and moved into showbusiness professionally. I'd achieved one of my burning ambitions."

It was 1969. A year later, Paul made his television debut on 'Opportunity Knocks'... and came second. However, he was working more than ever now in Britain and overseas, with tours of Europe and Africa behind him. Then he was seen by television executive Johnny Hamp who gave him a spot on Granada's popular TV show "9" and it proved the launching pad for what has become a fabulous career. Almost overnight, Paul's catchphrase - "You'll like it, not a lot, but you'll like it" - became a household saying. A new star was born. And in 1979, he was chosen to appear in the Royal Variety Show.

Highlights of an outstanding career have seen him headlining a season of cabaret in Las Vegas at the Tropicana Hotel, and appearing on major American television shows. He has published several books, including The Paul Daniels Magic Book, More Magic, Paul Daniels - Magic Journey and Under No Illusion. He also has his own marketing company which designs and promotes a range of Paul Daniels magic sets. On December 10th, 1980, Paul Daniels made his seasonal starring debut in London's West End, when he headlined his own show, 'It's Magic,' at the Prince Of Wales Theatre. The show went on to become one of the longest running magic shows ever staged in London, taking well over 1,000,000 at the box office, in a 14 month run. He returned to the Prince Of Wales in the autumn of 1983 to star in his own one-man-show, 'An Evening with Paul Daniels.' The show was later presented on a short British theatre tour the following autumn, and it proved a unique departure for the man of magic.

In 1983, he was presented with the prestigious Magician Of The Year Award by Hollywood's Academy of Magical Arts before a star-studded audience in Los Angeles. It was a tremendous achievement for Paul, becoming the first magician from outside the USA to receive the award.

In 1985 his show, 'Paul Daniels' Easter Magic Show' was entered by the BBC into the Montreux International TV Festival in Switzerland and was awarded the coveted Golden Rose Of Montreux trophy by the distinguished panel of judges. His outstanding achievement in the international festival was recognised by the Variety Club of Great Britain in October, when a special showbusiness luncheon was staged in Paul's honour at the Dorchester Hotel in London and televised by the BBC.

Besides starring in his own one-man-show, Paul acted as impresario to present 'An Evening with Paul Daniels' in major theatres all over the country. The tour was so successful that he embarked on another series of engagements with the show from February 1985 (taking in appearances in Ireland), followed by a similar tour in the autumn.

Paul Daniels enjoyed great success with his own top-rating TV series, 'The Paul Daniels Magic Show' and numerous other television shows and specials, including the highly successful 'Odd One Out' and the fast-moving 'Every Second counts.' He currently is on tour accross the UK with An Audience with Paul Daniels and can be seen on Monday evening (4th March 2002) on BBC2's cult TV show Shooting Stars.

Top Trick?
"To watch? Levitations, I love levitations. The best of all was that of Kalanag. It was the most magical levitation that I have ever seen AND it had the big advantage of truly baffling the audience. The second best was that of a man who made his living from puppeteering, but occasionally did wonderful magic, Barclay Shaw. Copperfield uses his plastic box idea, but he had so many other 'touches' in the effect that made it so magical.

To perform? Who cares? It is never the trick that makes it the 'Tops' or the method of the trick, it is always the presentation. The 'actor' is the most important part of the show, not the trick. I can remember seeing The Great Levante with a full illusion show, but all I can really remember was he took a wooden block off a piece of rope held by two members of the audience and tore the theatre apart. I wish I had been old enough to have worked out why."

Top Book?
"Martin Gardner's Encyclopedia of Impromptu Magic. All my working life I have been able to perform magic with anything anywhere. Once, in a northern nightclub, I saw a very good magician in cabaret. His act was clever, routined, and reasonably entertaining. What is known in the business as a good second top or filler. Afterwards he joined me and a few others at my table and a punter asked him to do a trick. The magician replied that he didn't do tricks, only his act. The punter replied, unthinkingly but with great wisdom, 'Oh, you're not a real magician then?' IF, repeat, IF, you are selling yourself as a 'Magician', then the magic must be there all the time."

Top Magician?
"That's like asking Top Singer, Top Comedian, Top Film and so on. There is no Top anybody because we all have different tastes in our lifetimes. I have enjoyed Copperfield, Seigfreid and Roy, Burton, in no particular order because they are all singing different styles. The one I relaxed most watching and loved being caught out by his misdirection and presence was Harry Blackstone. Great act. In the field of Close-up my hat went off to Johnny Paul, who I heard make people SCREAM with surprise and then would 'top' it. I am not talking here an edited video where you only pick out the best one from 40 takes, I am talking a man who did it EVERY time. Wonderful.

Top seller? Ken Brooke. You had to have been there. If you meet me, ask me and I'll try to explain the skill, the wonder and the magic."

Top Magic Quote?
"I don't know one. I don't live my life in other people's opinions. I try to observe for myself and learn from my own experience. That does mean that sometimes I will fall on my face, but I won't the next time."

Top Magic Moment?
"I could say it was when Penn and Teller wanted their picture taken with me, but it isn't true. They did, but it wasn't the most magical thing I've seen. I guess it was when Harry Blackstone produced the elephant without any cover in the middle of the stage purely on misdirection, closely followed by sitting, in the same show, next to Jay Marshall, who, when the ducks vanished, said 'Shit, I missed it again.'"


Paul Daniels - Under No Illusion is available from


MagicWeek 2002