The Paul Daniels Magic Show (BBC1, 1979-1994)
Although as you should know by now I have always preferred the game show work of Paul Daniels, I thought that I might as well review his magic show too, because this formed a major part of BBC1’s entertainment line-up for an impressive 15 years, and I did watch occasionally. This was the show where Paul would perform various spectacular tricks.
It was no surprise that viewers were soon calling him “the terrific trickster” or “the super sorcerer” (or maybe not). They definitely did call him “the man who excels” though. Some tricks were rather basic and traditional, and some were rather daring and ambitious, and really did make viewers think “how did he do that!”. Well it was magic.
He couldn’t do it all by himself though, and people from around the world also featured to perform their act, including jugglers, mimes, ventriloquists, and much more, anything from the straightforward to bizarre. Now they really have got talent. And of course we mustn’t forget his terrific assistant (and eventually wife) Debbie McGee.
One of the most famous moments was on a live Halloween special where he did a trick that appeared to go rather badly wrong, and he had to assure worried viewers by returning later in the evening to prove that he was still all in one piece. Along with this, there were also Paul-endorsed magic kits released where people could attempt a few things at home.
The long-running Saturday Night show was also accompanied by various Christmas specials and compilations of highlights. However, after such a long run, the format began to be a little tired, and TV was changing, meaning that after several other old-school variety shows had already ended, this one had become outdated too and was just about hanging on.
The Paul Daniels Magic Show finally came to an end in 1994, but a year later, he was given another chance with Secrets, a similar show combining magic and variety in a more modern nightclub setting, but this ended after only one series, and as his third and final game show Wipeout ended around the same time, he wasn’t seen on TV that much after this.
The only time that he was really on the screen in the years after this was mildly embarrassing himself on sub-Big Brother-type shows which was disappointing, although he clearly knew his stuff about the history of magic, and he continued to tour the country and perform his show, producing coins from behind people’s ears and the like I’m sure. At least it wasn’t Wizbit!