Tricks And Tracks (CBBC, 1992-1993)
As I have said before, I haven’t had that much interest in the history of magic shows on TV, but I do remember watching this one as it offered something a little different. Tricks And Tracks was almost two shows in one, with the “tricks” in the title referring to the magic segments of the show, and the “tracks” referring to the musical segments, as if it was a magic show and a pop music show stuck together.
Tricks And Tracks launched on CBBC around the same time that the similar The Magic Comedy Strip was on ITV (I also reviewed that recently). The show was hosted by Sally Gray and Paul Zenon (who before this also contributed to the magic-themed 1989-1991 CBBC sitcom Tricky Business, but I’m fairly sure that this show wasn’t a direct spin-off), and it featured a rather excitable studio audience.
The hosts would be joined by some glamorous assistants. There was a robot called Albie who would help out with the tricks, along with Adam and Eve, yes, for some reason there were three robots on this show, who were all fond of making beeping noises. Paul would perform a lot of card tricks on the show, Sally would look at how optical illusions work and the history of magic, and lots of other guest magicians and illusionists would also take part, meaning that throughout the series several women got sawed in half.
There was also a competition where a viewer could win the chance to appear on the show. As for the music part, every week a pop act would perform one of their singles, and some of these were well-known, including Kim Wilde and Take That, and a few also took part in some tricks. But such is the nature of pop music of course that you’d also get acts promised to be the next big thing who would barely be heard of again.
One of the things that Tricks And Tracks is best-remembered for is an appearance in a 1993 edition by a girl group called Milan. They had no hits, but the line-up included a pre-fame Martine McCutcheon before she joined EastEnders (and went on to have a solo UK Number One single in 1999). I’m fairly sure that their performance has turned up on a few of those “before they were famous”-type shows.
Tricks And Tracks ran for two series, and it was also repeated for a while, but it doesn’t even have a Wikipedia entry. I presume plenty of people watched it at the time though. After the show ended, Sally remained a presenter on CBBC for about another decade, whereas the most likely place you’ll see Paul on TV nowadays is on Countdown in Dictionary Corner, where he still performs some of his dazzling tricks.