Mar 1 2012 by Mark Smith, Flintshire Chronicle
As The Brindley gears up to raise the curtain for Paul Daniels MARK SMITH talked to the man himself about his Halton debut 30 years ago, why he thinks modern TV magic isn’t always what it seems, and what makes his finger the second most famous digit in showbusiness
It may be 30 years on, but magician Paul Daniels still remembers the first time he came to Halton.
“I just remember pulling up outside this working men’s club in Widnes and thinking ‘do I really have to go in there?’
Such clubs were the bread and butter of comics, singers and entertainers, but Paul said they weren’t always the easiest places to play.
“There were usually a few people in the crowd who would love to do what I could with a pack of cards.
“But these places weren’t run by people who knew anything about showbusiness.”
Known mainly as a magician, Paul is also the quintessential funnyman, something he feels he never always had the chance to get across when he was on TV.
He said: “One thing people always say after my shows is ‘we never knew you were so funny’. Especially the women, but then I am an international sex symbol – why are you laughing?”
Paul heads to The Brindley tonight as part of his Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow UK tour and he said audiences are in for a unique experience.
He said: “Every show is different, we just get up and have fun and we never know what the audience are going to ask us. It’s just like having a party on the stage.”
Joined by his assistant and wife Debbie McGee, the act will also feature Kev Orkian, a musician and comic who has been compared to Victor Borge and Dudley Moore.
Paul said: “When we spotted him at the Edinburgh Fringe we knew we wanted him on the tour.”
Kev also took part in 2010’s series of Simon Cowell’s Britain’s Got Talent, but Paul isn’t complimentary of the music mogul’s other flagship show.
“The X Factor is just karaoke. You’ve always had talent shows but they had a mix of established and amateur performers and good singer-songwriters, these are just amateurs.
“That’s why I was pleased for Adele and that other lad [Ed Sheeran] at The Brits, they’ll be around long after these X Factor people have disappeared.”
Adele is something of a sore point for Paul though, in more ways than one. Having cut off two of his fingers with a buzz saw on New Year’s Day while crafting props for his tour in the garden shed, he feels the soul singer stole some of his thunder after she flashed her own finger at show bosses live during the Brit Awards, after being interrupted during her acceptance speech.
“I now have the second most famous finger in showbusiness!” he said.
Paul said he is ‘amazed’ at the success of the operation to repair his hand. He said: “When it happened I had no idea what had gone, I just slapped my hand to my chest and drove to the hospital. The tip of one finger is gone, but the other is fine.”
Last Wednesday’s opening night of the tour was a big step for Paul.
He said: “Debbie was excited because I was doing card tricks. Using stage equipment is easy because they’re big, but with the cards its different but it was fine, he [the surgeon] did an amazing job.”
Now back in the public eye, Paul denies claims that his brand of magic has ever been away.
He said: “Journalists always ask me why magic is popular again, but it’s always been there – just not on the telly. But telly isn’t everything.”
But is Paul impressed with the new generation of TV magicians? ‘Not a lot’ would be the answer.
“The only ones I really like are Penn and Teller, they do it really well. What I don’t like is seeing magic done in the editing suite after amateur magicians have got it wrong. If you can’t do magic live, you shouldn’t do it at all.”
Paul Daniels visits The Brindley tonight at 7.30pm. Tickets (£19.50 and £17.50) are available on 0151 907 8360.