Remembering Paul Daniels

The Legend – and my inspiration

It’s one whole year since the legend that was Paul Daniels passed away from us. It’s been a year that has kept me (and I’m sure all of us) very busy, but I had noticed the date approaching and felt compelled to write something.

I (and an entire generation of magicians) owe a lot to Paul. Little did I know that as I sat spellbound watching him on TV at the tender age of 7 that he was setting a path beneath my feet that I over the years have found irresistible.

Sat there glued to the TV, I remember being completely absorbed. Everything else disappeared as I was mesmerised by his performance. I have actually found the clip – so please watch it here:

I had no idea where those pieces of fruit were coming from, and I didn’t find out until I was 23. If you see me performing at tables you can be assured that this is what I’ll start with, well my version anyway. I don’t think there’s anything else quite like it in close up magic. I often get asked to do the “fruit trick” and like Paul, this is something I hope to become known for.

I was so very lucky to meet Paul a couple of times. My amazing wife actually arranged for me to spend the best part of a day with him in his own home for one of my birthdays.Justin Price meets Paul Daniels

I don’t think I was quite prepared for the level of his generosity. Hearing people talk about him afterwards, I learnt that this was something he was known for. He was always interested in people. If you were his audience you were his world, and he never stopped striving for the perfect performance for you. If you were another magician or performer then he was a limitless font of knowledge, tips and advice, and was only too happy to go out of his way to help you.

Being more than a magician

Paul left a legacy with me of being true to yourself, being prepared for anything and thinking everything through, never taking anything for granted, and also a relentless search for being better.

How to be a more engaging performer, how to be interesting. After all – how interesting really is a pack of cards, or a cabinet, or a table, without an intriguing storyline or plot to captivate your audience? Then the magic enhances what should be an already entertaining story or experience.

Paul has left us with a staggering record of achievements which I’m not sure will be beaten by another British magician. He performed regularly on the Paul Daniels Magic Show and on several other occasions on Christmas specials and other events from 1979 to 1994, regularly drawing in audiences of 15 million viewers. He was also recognised with countless awards for services to magic and the entertainment world in general. In all that time (and right up until his later life) he held onto that goal of the perfect magic effect, which involved people with an elegant story, only to blow them away with an impossible happening which would engage them for long afterwards.

I shall forever be humbled and honoured to have such a body of work to be inspired by, and an incomparable example to strive towards.

Paul was known for his views on death, “When it’s your time, it’s your time” he was quoted to have said on several occasions. In the end, he had only 4 weeks and 5 days after being diagnosed with an incurable brain tumour.

Debbie McGee has asked that anyone who wants to make a donation in memory of Paul support the Brain Tumour Research charity and purchase one of their badges which she helped design. If you loved his magic or perhaps have been affected by someone with a condition of a similar nature then please consider it.

If asked what drives me forward to do what I do, my own personal love of magic can be summed up very simply:

If in performing magic you can make your audience believe, even if just for one second, that it may not be a trick. If the effect is so powerful that they are simply left dumbfounded and entertained, then we are all children again – being free from the troubles and worries of life and believing just for that moment that anything might be possible.

That is a huge gift to give, and Paul gave it in spades. I loved him, and I know lots of people liked him, even if not a lot.

Paul Daniels, 6th April 1938 – 17th March 2016

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