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Paul Daniels

Paul Daniels
Born Newton Edward Daniels
(1938-04-06) 6 April 1938
South Bank, Middlesbrough, North Riding of Yorkshire, England
Nationality British
Occupation Magician
Spouse(s) Jacqueline Skipworth (1960–?)
Debbie McGee (1988–present)

Newton Edward Daniels, known by his stage name Paul Daniels (born 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.


  • Biography 1
    • Early life 1.1
    • Showbusiness career 1.2
  • Awards 2
  • Outspoken views 3
  • Family and personal life 4
  • References 5
    • Bibliography 5.1
  • External links 6
    • Videoclips 6.1


Early life

Daniels was born at South Bank, North Riding of Yorkshire, 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.

After Sir William Turners Grammar School on Coatham Road in Coatham, Redcar 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 local government. 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. 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]

In 1978 ITV gave Daniels his own Sunday night show Paul Daniels' Blackpool Bonanza and 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.

In the 1990s, new management at the BBC decided to put his TV shows in Wales and Scotland on air at different times, which made the ratings figures lower and they were then able to not renew his contract. Similar techniques were used to remove other light entertainment shows. He has stated that his final series, 'Secrets', was far and away the most popular show with the live audience in that they did not want to leave the studios but he was very unhappy with the way it was recorded. He had wanted to shoot it in a much more modern style but felt that using the 'standard' direction it looked old fashioned.

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 Aherne in her guise as Mrs Merton. In 2004, Daniels and McGee 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.

Daniels currently owns a magic and fancy dress shop in Wigan town centre and has an online shop selling items for magician and fancy dress outfits. He has stated he has a long-standing ambition to appear in a film, "probably because my first job was showing movies in my father's cinema."

In 2010, Daniels participated in the eighth series of Strictly Come Dancing. His dancing partner was Ola Jordan. They were the second couple to be voted off the series.

In August 2011, while filming a scene for ITV's The Sooty Show Daniels was struck by a flying pizza, thrown by the puppet Sooty. This was exaggerated by the media whereas in truth all that happened was that he got a piece of pizza in his eye and called in to a cottage hospital for them to rinse it out.[7]

On New Year's Day 2012, Daniels 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, whilst building a safety device for the saw itself.[8] The saw was not one used by Daniels in his act. The index finger has been re-attached.[9]

On 10 October 2012, Daniels and McGee appeared on All Star Mr & Mrs on ITV.

In 2013, Daniels and Debbie McGee toured their 'First Farewell Tour'.[10]


Daniels was awarded the prestigious "Magician of the Year’" Award by the Academy of Magical Arts in 1982, and was the first magician from outside the US to receive it.[11] 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.[12]

Daniels was also awarded the "Great Lafayette Award" by the Edinburgh International Magic Festival in 2011.[13]

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.[14] In 1992, The Sun claimed Daniels was threatening to leave the United Kingdom if the Labour Party won the 1992 general election (part of the If Kinnock wins today will the last person to leave Britain please turn out the lights article). Daniels was subsequently ridiculed for remaining in the UK after Labour won the 1997 general election, although the Labour Party's policies had changed considerably in the intervening five years during which it had portrayed itself as "New Labour". The Sun newspaper even urged its readers to vote Labour in 1997.[15] Daniels has since clarified his position on his website, stating:

Daniels was not entirely correct in this, however: Tony Blair's father, Leo Blair, was never elected as an MP but was a Conservative candidate and chairman of the local Conservative association.[17]

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".[18]

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 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."[19]

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

He is also dismissive of modern Alistair McGowan."[20]

On journalism – "I don't really understand why journalism has to be so nasty, so sarcastic and intrusive".[20]

He said that Anne Robinson has hated him ever since his 1987 Halloween special hoax performance.[20]

On the television presenter Chris Morris, he commented: "[He's] just nasty."[20] In 1997 Daniels was tricked by Morris's spoof TV show Brass Eye.

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...".[20]

Daniels is a climate change denier.[21]

Daniels has also been accused of racism on more than one occasion. In 2011, he tweeted that he did not consider the term "Paki" to bear racist connotations and accused those who held the opposite view of being excessively politically correct ( ). In 2015, a Channel 4 documentary "It was all right in the 1980s" showed a 1980 clip from the BBC1 game-show "Blankety Blank" in which Daniels tells viewers "do not adjust your set" in reference to the skin colour of fellow contestant and singer Patti Boulaye, who is black.

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 married his second wife, long-time assistant Debbie McGee on 2 April 1988 in Buckinghamshire. 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.[22][23]

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]

He said that he had a "passionate" encounter with a schoolgirl hitch-hiker in 1969 when he was aged 30, though he ejected her from the car upon realising her age.[24][25] Following the Jimmy Savile sexual abuse scandal in 2012, Daniels said that he now believed Jimmy Savile, who had worked at the BBC at the same time as him, was "a bad guy" but questioned whether some accusers were "for real".[25] Daniels had been a guest on Savile's episode of This Is Your Life in 1990. He was criticised by the NSPCC and Mark Williams Thomas, the former child protection officer who had exposed Savile's crimes, accused Daniels of "belittling" the victims of Jimmy Saville in one of his blog posts.[24][25] The entry was later removed from the blog.[25]

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.[26]

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.[27]

Daniels is also a patron of The Regal Cinema and Theatre in Tenbury Wells. He has played the venue numerous times, last time was for Halloween 2014 as part of his "Back... Despite Popular Demand" tour.

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.[28]

In January 2011, a wig belonging to Daniels was sold for charity on Ebay for £1,100.[29]


  1. ^ "Scotland the Brave". Paul Daniels. 29 August 2007. Retrieved 8 September 2007. 
  2. ^ a b c d e Brooks, Libby (12 February 2001). "The same old magic". The Guardian online (Guardian Newspapers Limited). Retrieved 8 April 2007. 
  3. ^ "Setting the Record Straight". Paul Daniels. 28 March 2006. Retrieved 8 April 2007. 
  4. ^ "How Paul got into showbusiness". Paul Daniels. Retrieved 7 May 2007. 
  5. ^ "Now, that's MAG 1C". Regtransfers. Retrieved 25 November 2007. 
  6. ^ "Now, that's MAG 1C". Regtransfers. Retrieved 25 November 2007. 
  7. ^ "Paul Daniels injured in Sooty pizza-throwing accident".  
  8. ^ Paul Daniels chopped off finger
  9. ^ "Paul Daniels' finger reattached after saw accident". BBC News. 21 January 2012. 
  10. ^ "First Farewell Tour". 
  11. ^ "Academy of Magical Arts @ Magic Castle Magician of the Year". 
  12. ^ Dawes, EA and Bailey, M: Circle Without End: The Magic Circle 1905–2005, page 89. Jeremy Mills Publishing, 2005.
  13. ^ "Edinburgh Magic Fest will reappear next year!". The Edinburgh Reporter. 26 July 2011. Retrieved 4 December 2013. 
  14. ^ "Celebrity X Factor – News". 28 March 2010. Retrieved 24 January 2011. 
  15. ^ "Are you still here?".  
  16. ^ "Frequently Asked Questions". Paul Daniels Magic World. Retrieved 2 February 2014. 
  17. ^ "BBC Tony Blair Biography". September 2015. 
  18. ^ Douglas, Ian (28 September 2006). "Paul Daniels takes his show online". London: Retrieved 8 April 2007. 
  19. ^ "interview with Paul Daniels". 
  20. ^ a b c d e "Paul Daniels Interview". Archived from the original on 5 February 2005. 
  21. ^ "Paul Daniels: 'most of the time we live in heaven' - video". Channel 4 News. Retrieved 13 February 2014. 
  22. ^ Tyrrel, Rebecca (August 2000). "Deb's delight". Retrieved 18 November 2007. 
  23. ^ "Debbie McGee Chats to Us about Her Celebrity Wedding to Paul Daniels". Retrieved 18 November 2007. 
  24. ^ a b Swinford, Steven (24 December 2012). "Paul Daniels accused of 'trivialising and belittling' Jimmy Savile sex abuse victims". =The Telegraph (London). Retrieved 24 December 2012. 
  25. ^ a b c d Meikle, James (24 December 2012). "'"Paul Daniels questions whether all Savile accusers 'are for real.  
  26. ^ "Paul Daniels". Paul Daniels. Retrieved 24 January 2011. 
  27. ^ "Private Number Plates? Now, that's MAG 1C". Regtransfers. Retrieved 25 November 2007. 
  28. ^ "The secret to our fabulous marriage? Sex!". 16 February 2009. 
  29. ^ Magician Paul Daniels sells wig on eBay for £1,100 at


  • Paul Daniels, Under No Illusion, Blake Publishing (May 2000), ISBN 1-85782-314-1

External links


  • Chimpanzee card trick on YouTube
  • Advertising Heineken on YouTube
  • Let Me Entertain You – Celebrity X Factor 2006 on YouTube
Preceded by
Host of Wipeout
Succeeded by
Bob Monkhouse
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