Interview: Paul Daniels

Sarah HardyNow, you'll like this, not a lot but… Top magician Paul Daniels who is coming to Norwich - promising a night to remember. SARAH HARDY tries to get him to reveal a few tricks of the trade.Sarah Hardy

Now, you'll like this, not a lot but… Magician Paul Daniels who is coming to Norwich - promising a night to remember. SARAH HARDY tries to get him to reveal a few tricks of the trade.

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Paul Daniels always brings smile to your face as people do love to poke fun at his height, his marriage, his cheesy behaviour and more. But that does take away from his undoubted talent as the country's top magician who can baffle you as easily as a click of the fingers.

Paul, who's been in show business for 50-plus years, comes to Norwich's Maddermarket Theatre on March 5. He has wowed us for decades with both simplistic and highly technical tricks or feats of conjuring as he prefers to call them.

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But his favourite trick is a very simple one - making a coin disappear. 'It's about 100-years-old,' he says. 'But it goes from the spectator's hand and nobody can understand how!'

Since reading various magic books when he was 11, Paul has developed an encyclopaedic knowledge of the magic world, enjoying the history and tradition of this noble art. His father encouraged him and, despite being shy, Paul slowly but surely developed his skills before becoming a professional magician aged 30. Top telly shows followed, plus performances to the royal family and Hollywood celebrities and many awards.

Despite being in his 1970s, Paul clearly has a strong work ethic as he has no plans to slow down or, dare we say to retire. 'Well, I love it you see. Especially going to these smaller, more intimate venues. It is just you and the audience, lots of connection. I love being with people, having fun. It's it what it is all about. It's never been just about the conjuring - more about the whole entertainment package.'

Whilst based in Berkshire, his time is spent on tour, and he reels off a huge international list of venues where he both performs his magic act and does a fair amount of corporate work, solving problems for companies, motivating staff and more.

'I'm a lateral thinker - I like to keep it simple and yes, I'm learning new tricks all the time and you do have to practise and practise them. It doesn't come naturally, I can assure you!'

So his work keeps him busy - read his blog and you'll see. He gets plenty of emails from people around the world that he likes to reply to and. 'I do like computers and technology. And I guess my blog grew out of answering all those emails - it's much easier to have a blog and I like twittering too.'

His active lifestyle keeps his fit and well although he says he is definitely not one for exercise. 'I get too bored too quickly, it is not for me.'

His wife, Debbie McGee, is hopefully coming with him to his Norwich date. 'She likes to, when she can. She's a presenter on Radio Berkshire these days and is writing her own cook book. She trained with the Royal Ballet so really knows how bodies work, what is good for them - and she's a great cook, too.'

So, did I get him to tell me how he does it? No, of course, I didn't. He's far, far too professional for that. What about if I gave him a good few glasses of sherry? 'No, I don't drink,' he replies. 'I did get drunk once, years ago, when I was on a troop ship. I remember the colonel saying to be the next day 'Daniels, you are most annoying. The drunker we got you to make you show us how you do it all, the more baffling you became!'

But I wonder if he's writing it all down, for people to discover when he's gone? 'Well, I do workshops and seminars for fellow magicians so yes, people do know. But it is just for that world.'

Mmm, I press further. 'But how is it is done?' He sighs. 'It is all slight of hand and deception. But you have to be a bit of an actor to really get away with it!'

t An Audience With Paul Daniels, Maddermarket Theatre, March 5, �17.50, 01603 620917,