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Paul Daniels
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Background information
Full name
Cause of death
Alternate names
Occupation(s) Television illusionist
Years active
Spouse(s) Jacqueline Skipworth (1960–?)
Debbie McGee (1988–present)
Notable contributions

Paul Daniels, born Newton Edward Daniels on 6 April 1938, is a British magician and television performer.[1] He achieved international fame through his television series The Paul Daniels Magic Show, which ran on the BBC from 1979 to 1994.


Early life

Daniels was born at 51 North Street in South Bank, Redcar & Cleveland,the son of Handel Newton Daniels and Nancy Lloyd.[2] Handel (known as Hugh) was a cinema projectionist at the Hippodrome Theatre and a former worker at Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI) Wilton.Template:Citation needed

During World War II, Daniels was evacuated to the Helmsley area. After Sir William Turners Grammar School on Coatham Road in Coatham, Redcar (now the Redcar & Cleveland College Connections Campus on Corporation Road) and his first job as a junior clerk in the treasurer's office of Eston council, Daniels served as a conscript in the 1st Battalion, The Green Howards, during his National Service and was posted to the British garrison in Hong Kong, before training as an accountant in the Civil Service. Even at this early age he had thinning hair which he claimed to be an act of 'magic'. Daniels later sported a wig for much of his television career.[3] After working as a junior clerk and then as an auditor in local government Daniels joined his parents in the grocery business they were running at the time.Template:Citation needed He later set up his own shop – at one point a mobile shop – but eventually gave this up in favour of his growing career as a magician.

Showbusiness career

Daniels' interest in magic began at the age of 11 when, during a holiday, he read a book called How To Entertain At Parties. He has stated that: "From that moment, I can safely say that all I ever wanted to do in life was to become a professional magician". He began performing magic as a hobby, occasionally entertaining at parties and youth clubs and later doing shows for fellow servicemen during his national service.[4] After returning to civilian life he continued to develop his magic by performing in clubs in the evenings while working at his grocery business during the day. At one point he worked with his first wife Jackie under the name of 'The Eldanis', an anagram of Daniels. It was while working the clubs that he developed what would become his long running catchphrase, "You'll like this...not a lot, but you'll like it." He has stated that he first came up with the line at a club in Bradford as a way to deal with a heckler.[5]

A major turning point in Daniels' career came in 1969 when he was offered a summer season at Newquay. He decided to sell his grocery business and try magic as a full time career. He made his television debut on the long-running talent show Opportunity Knocks in 1970, and came second. Television producer Johnnie Hamp saw Daniels in that show and later gave him a regular spot on a show compèred by Bernard Manning The Wheeltappers and Shunters Social Club for Granada Television.[6]

His first series for the BBC was For My Next Trick, where Daniels appeared with several other magicians and singer Faith Brown. This led to Daniels presenting his own television series, The Paul Daniels Magic Show, on BBC1 from 1979 until 1994. As well as featuring tricks and illusions for pure entertainment, he also included a regular segment (the "Bunko Booth") in which he exposed the confidence tricks of street charlatans. He also replicated the kind of results that have impressed researchers of the paranormal and parapsychologists in a segment called Under Laboratory Conditions, thereby demonstrating his skepticism about claims made in these fields.

Daniels starred in his own stage show, It's Magic, at the Prince of Wales Theatre from 10 December 1980 until 6 February 1982. At that time, the show was one of the longest-running magic shows ever staged in London. By this point he was already working with his future wife, Debbie McGee, whose role as his assistant would become a major feature of his act. She had first worked with him on his summer season show in Great Yarmouth in 1979.

In addition to his magic shows he hosted a number of other television series during the 1980s and 1990s, including three BBC1 quiz shows: Odd One Out, Every Second Counts and Wipeout, and the children's television programme Wizbit (also for the BBC), about a magician called Wizbit and a rabbit called Woolly, who lived in Puzzleopolis.

On the magic circuit, Daniels' appeal diminished as the 1980s drew to a close, and in the 1990s the ratings for his TV show slumped. A 1995 magic show for the BBC entitled Secrets, set in a variety club, failed to catch on and was not renewed.[2] He has, however, made several guest appearances on television, though this has often been as the unsuspecting butt of the joke on satirical comedy shows, such as the Chris Morris show, Brass Eye. Daniels and McGee were the focus of one of the episodes of the 2001 BBC documentary series When Louis Met…, presented by Louis Theroux, with Daniels additionally appearing on Da Ali G Show in an Ali G costume, interviewed by Caroline Hook in her guise as Mrs Merton. In 2004, he and Debbie appeared in the Channel 5 reality TV show, The Farm, and in 2006, they appeared in the ITV show The X Factor: Battle Of The Stars. They were the first act voted off the show, after singing Let Me Entertain You by Robbie Williams. Daniels and McGee also made a guest appearance in the Wife Swap series in early 2007, with McGee changing places with journalist and presenter Vanessa Feltz. In 2008 Daniels was part of Dec's team in the Ant v Dec segment of Ant & Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway, but was eliminated by Dec after the team lost the Bobsleigh challenge in show 3 (of 6).

Daniels still tours doing live magic and recently presented a show about magician 'Max Malini'. He currently owns a magic and fancy dress shop in Wigan town centre and also has an online shop selling items for magician and fancy dress outfits. He has stated he has an ambition to star in a Hollywood film.[2]

During 2009 he toured a number of more intimate venues, performing for audiences of around 200.Template:Citation needed

In September 2010 it was announced Daniels would be participating in the eighth series of Strictly Come Dancing. His dancing partner was Ola Jordan. They were the second couple to be voted off on 17 October.

On New Year's Day 2012 the magician cut off his left index finger and the tip of his ring finger, in an accident with a circular saw, in a shed at his Wargrave home, while building props for his act.[7] The saw was not one used by Daniels in his act. The index finger has been re-attached.[8]

Paul is a past President of Hospital Radio Bedside, a radio station that broadcasts to hospitals in Bournemouth, Poole, Christchurch and Wimborne, UK.Template:Citation needed

Strictly Come Dancing performances

Week # Dance/song Judges' score Result
Horwood Goodman Dixon Tonioli Total
1 Cha-Cha-Cha / Could It Be Magic 2 5 5 4 16 N/A
2 Foxtrot / Lady Luck 4 6 6 5 21 Safe
3 Rumba / Take A Bow 2 5 5 4 16 Eliminated


Daniels was awarded the prestigious "Magician of the Year’" Award by the Hollywood Academy of Magical Arts in 1983, and was the first magician from outside the US to receive it.Template:Citation needed An Easter special of The Paul Daniels Magic Show won the Golden Rose of Montreux Award at the International TV Festival in Switzerland in 1985.

Daniels was the first recipient of The Maskelyne, awarded for services to British Magic by The Magic Circle in 1988.[9]

More recently he was named "World's Greatest Magician" by students at Boston Spa School, Yorkshire. Daniels turned up to the ceremony and gave an impromptu show.[10]

Outspoken views

Daniels is known for being outspoken on a range of matters, including politics and current affairs as well as magic, entertainment and fellow celebrities.

Daniels is a supporter of the Conservative Party.[11]

On the subject of criminal justice, he has stated: "...make them afraid of the punishment...when I heard Ian Huntley had tried to commit suicide – I’d have helped him. There are no ifs or buts about Huntley. With him, I wouldn’t even have told him the result of the trial, he'd just have gone to sleep and never woken up".[12]

Daniels has stated that he has very little sympathy with the homeless since, in his words, "I was always trying to be best, to get ahead of the other guy. And I can't say why, I just knew I could...I saw Peter Stringfellow on TV one time, and we both have a little, but not very much, sympathy for the homeless, because both of us came from very poor backgrounds, got off our arses, and grafted".[2]

Daniels now refuses to attend magic conferences in the UK since they "...were ruined for me by bitchiness and jealousy...now I only go to foreign conventions where, to be honest, I am greeted with respect and civility AND I have tons of ‘foreign’ magician friends."[13]

He is dismissive of modern illusionists. He has described David Blaine as "not very original".[2]

He is also dismissive of modern impressionists – "I don't think much to modern impressionists either. Forget Alistair McGowan."[14]

On journalism – "I don't really understand why journalism has to be so nasty, so sarcastic and intrusive".[14] Daniels has often remarked that for his final trick he would like to make "The Sun disappear", a reference to the British tabloid newspaper.

He said that Anne Robinson has hated him ever since his 1987 Halloween special hoax performance.[14]

On the radio presenter, Chris Morris he commented: "[He's] just nasty."[14]

On the hereditary system in the House of Lords – "The hereditary peers, the real Lords, have the genetic knowledge so they know what to pass and what not to let through. I believe the gene carries more than physical characteristics. It's more than just education that makes the Lords better at making these kind of decisions than leaving it with the Commons. It's like an animal instinct. The aristocracy may act foolish, but in times of war and riots they have the knowledge and a belief and strength of leadership and instinct that coal miners just haven't got...".[14]

On pornography – "Porn is fine when it's between consenting adults. The stuff with kids is wrong, but between consenting adults it's fine. There's a lot I like, although nothing weird."[14]

On magic fans - "There's a group of people who are really into looking at pictures of women in guillotines. Not naked or anything. Just in guillotines. They have a page full of pictures of Debbie in guillotines – I have used guillotines in my routines. How strange is that as a fetish?[14]

Family and personal life

Daniels married his first wife, Jacqueline Skipworth (born 1942), in 1960, when she was 17 and he was 21. He has three sons by her: Gary, Paul and Martin. Martin sometimes appeared on The Paul Daniels Magic Show, and Paul's father, Hughie, often made props for the show, such as wooden boxes for the Selbit Sawing illusion. Daniels' nephew James Phelan is a budding young magician.

Daniels married his second wife, long-time assistant Debbie McGee on 2 April 1988 in Buckinghamshire.[15] The couple met in London in May 1979 during rehearsals for Daniels' summer season show in Great Yarmouth that year. At that time he was 40 and she was 20. McGee went on to work with Daniels in his 1980 summer show in Bournemouth and then his London stage show It's Magic before being offered the role of assistant in his long-running television series. Their relationship gradually became more established until he proposed in 1987. Early in their marriage they lived in a house in Denham, that once belonged to Roger Moore. In 1998 they moved to a house on the banks of the River Thames at Wargrave in Berkshire.[16][17]

Daniels' autobiography, Under No Illusion, includes descriptions of his and McGee's joking life:

"I was writing and needed to concentrate, so I had a 'Do Not Disturb' sign on my back. Eventually I went to bed and Debbie was lying stark naked on the bed – eat your heart out fellas! She was wearing the sort of sleeping blindfold you get on long-haul flights. Printed on it was Do Not Disturb. But further down her body she had a sign that said Disturb!"[2]

Daniels also claims in the book to have had, as of the year 2000, sexual relations with more than 300 women.[2] This figure includes a Chinese girl he met on a Hong Kong ferry during his National Service, whom he recalls as being "rather throaty".[18]

Daniels maintains a website that includes personal information, a detailed blog and records podcasts. The blog incorporates Daniels's diary entries and day-to-day musings and observations on a range of topics.[19]

He has an Isuzu Trooper for hauling props and show material with the personalised registration plate that reads 'MAG1C'. He also drives a Toyota Prius for personal use. During his life he has also owned three Bentleys and a Ferrari.[20]

In 2007 Daniels took part in the BBC Wales programme Coming Home about his Welsh family history.

In February 2009, Daniels and McGee appeared in Closer magazine in a picture recreating an image from an Armani advert that featured footballer David Beckham and his wife Victoria.[21]

In January 2011, a wig belonging to Daniels was sold for charity on Ebay for £1,100.[22]

Paul Daniels Magic Show transmission guide

  • Series 1: 4 editions from 9 June 1979 – 22 June 1979
  • Series 2: 6 editions from 13 September 1980 – 18 October 1980
  • Series 3: 6 editions from 26 September 1981 – 28 November 1981
  • Series 4: 8 editions from 6 October 1982 – 20 November 1982
  • Series 5: 8 editions from 15 October 1983 – 3 December 1983
  • Series 6: 8 editions from 1 September 1984 – 20 October 1984
  • Series 7: 10 editions from 7 September 1985 – 9 November 1985
  • Series 8: 9 editions from 6 December 1986 – 14 February 1986
  • Series 9: 9 editions from 2 January 1988 – 27 February 1988
  • Series 10: 8 editions from 7 January 1989 – 25 February 1989
  • Series 11: 8 editions from 6 January 1990 – 24 February 1990
  • Series 12: 9 editions from 5 January 1991 – 2 March 1991
  • Series 13: 9 editions from 11 January 1992 – 7 March 1992
  • Series 14: 9 editions from 2 January 1993 – 27 February 1993
  • Series 15: 9 editions from 2 April 1994 – 18 June 1994
  • Specials
  • Special produced by Granada TV: 31 December 1977
  • Christmas Special: 22 December 1979
  • The Paul Daniels Magic Christmas Show: 25 December 1980
  • Paul Daniels Magical Christmas: 25 December 1981
  • The Paul Daniels Magic Christmas Show: 25 December 1982
  • The Paul Daniels Magic Christmas Show: 26 December 1983
  • The Paul Daniels Magic Christmas Show: 25 December 1984
  • The Paul Daniels Magic Easter Show: 6 April 1985
  • The Paul Daniels Magic Christmas Show: 26 December 1985
  • The Paul Daniels Magic Christmas Show: 27 December 1986
  • Paul Daniels Live at Hallowe'en: 31 October 1987
  • The Paul Daniels Magic Christmas Show: 26 December 1987
  • Paul Daniels Live at Hallowe'en: 31 October 1988
  • The Paul Daniels Magic Christmas Show: 26 December 1988
  • The Paul Daniels Magic Show: 26 December 1989
  • The Paul Daniels Magic Show Christmas Edition: 24 December 1990
  • The First Ten Years: 22 March 1991
  • The Paul Daniels Magic Show Festive Edition: 28 December 1991
  • The Paul Daniels Magic Show Festive Edition: 24 December 1992
  • The Paul Daniels Christmas Magic Show: 28 December 1993
  • Secrets Festive Special: 29 December 1994
  • Compilations
  • The Best of Paul Daniels 1981: 12 April 1982
  • The Best of Paul Daniels 1982: 4 April 1983
  • The Best of Paul Daniels: 3 April 1984
  • Paul Daniels Magic Moments: Best of Series 6: 3 January 1985
  • Paul Daniels Million Pound Magic: Best of Series 7: 5 May 1986

Paul Daniels Secrets Transmission Guide

  • Series 1: 8 editions from 15 November 1995 – 17 January 1996
  • Secrets Festive Special: 29 December 1994


  1. "Scotland the Brave". Paul Daniels. 29 August 2007. http://www.pauldaniels.co.uk/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=231&Itemid=11. Retrieved 2007-09-08. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 Brooks, Libby (12 February 2001). "The same old magic". The Guardian online (Guardian Newspapers Limited). http://www.guardian.co.uk/g2/story/0,3604,436664,00.html. Retrieved 2007-04-08. 
  3. "Setting the Record Straight". Paul Daniels. 28 March 2006. http://www.pauldaniels.co.uk/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=4&Itemid=6&limit=1&limitstart=1. Retrieved 2007-04-08. 
  4. "How Paul got into showbusiness". Paul Daniels. http://www.pauldaniels.co.uk/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=2&Itemid=2&limit=1&limitstart=1. Retrieved 2007-05-07. 
  5. "Now, that's MAG 1C". Regtransfers. http://www.regtransfers.co.uk/main/STORIES/mag1c4.asp. Retrieved 2007-11-25. 
  6. "Now, that's MAG 1C". Regtransfers. http://www.regtransfers.co.uk/main/STORIES/mag1c5.asp. Retrieved 2007-11-25. 
  7. Paul Daniels chopped off finger
  8. "Paul Daniels' finger reattached after saw accident". BBC News. 21 January 2012. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-16664742. 
  9. Dawes, EA and Bailey, M: Circle Without End: The Magic Circle 1905–2005, page 89. Jeremy Mills Publishing, 2005.
  10. Williamson, Howard (6 November 2003). "Sixth formers enjoyed Paul's tricks – quite a lot!". Yorkshire Evening Post (Yorkshire Evening Post). http://www.yorkshireeveningpost.co.uk/news/Sixth-formers-enjoyed-Paul39s-tricks.687228.jp. 
  11. "Celebrity X Factor – News". People.co.uk. 2010-03-28. http://www.people.co.uk/news/tm_headline=celebrity-x-factor&method=full&objectid=22143891&siteid=93463-name_page.html. Retrieved 2011-01-24. 
  12. Douglas, Ian (28 September 2006). "Paul Daniels takes his show online". London: Telegraph.co.uk. http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/technology/iandouglas/3626281/Paul_Daniels_takes_his_show_online/. Retrieved 2007-04-08. 
  13. "interview with Paul Daniels". magicbunny.co.uk. http://www.magicbunny.co.uk/interviews/paul.php. 
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 14.3 14.4 14.5 14.6 "Paul Daniels Interview". pennybroadhurst.com. Archived from the original on February 5, 2005. http://web.archive.org/web/20050205084700/http://pennybroadhurst.com/pdinterview.htm. 
  15. "Marriages England and Wales 1984–2005". Findmypast.co.uk. http://www.findmypast.co.uk/BirthsMarriagesDeaths.jsp. Retrieved 2011-01-24. 
  16. Tyrrel, Rebecca (August 2000). "Deb's delight". Telegraph.co.uk. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/main.jhtml?xml=/health/2000/08/28/tldeb28.xml. Retrieved 2007-11-18. 
  17. "Debbie McGee Chats to Us about Her Celebrity Wedding to Paul Daniels". Weddingtv.com. http://www.weddingtv.com/?aid=206. Retrieved 2007-11-18. 
  18. "Reader review of Under No Illusion". Amazon.co.uk. http://www.amazon.co.uk/Under-No-Illusion-Paul-Daniels/dp/1857823141/sr=1-2/qid=1168395410/ref=sr_1_2/202-1974590-5435864?ie=UTF8&s=books. Retrieved 2007-04-08. 
  19. "Paul Daniels". Paul Daniels. http://www.pauldaniels.co.uk/index.php?option=com_content&task=blogcategory&id=2&Itemid=10. Retrieved 2011-01-24. 
  20. "Private Number Plates? Now, that's MAG 1C". Regtransfers. http://www.regtransfers.co.uk/main/STORIES/mag1c.asp. Retrieved 2007-11-25. 
  21. "The secret to our fabulous marriage? Sex!". Closeronline.co.uk. 16 February 2009. http://www.closeronline.co.uk/ShowbizNews/LatestNews/paul-daniels-and-debbie-mcgee-recreate-beckhams-armani-ad.aspx?dateonline=Monday+16+February+2009&pos=2. 
  22. Magician Paul Daniels sells wig on eBay for £1,100 at bbc.co.uk


External links