Paul Daniels and I had 'fairytale life' together, says Debbie McGee
Published 17/03/2016 | 09:01
Debbie McGee has said she and husband Paul Daniels had a "fairytale life" together as she paid tribute to him.
The entertainer died with his wife by his side a fter losing his fight with cancer.
The 77-year-old was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour in February and had chosen to spend his final days with his family at his Berkshire home.
McGee, his wife of 28 years, thanked well-wishers for their support since the magician fell at home and was rushed to hospital, suspected of having suffered a stroke. It was then that the tumour was discovered.
She told the BBC: " The way to describe Paul was that, yes he did television shows and people knew who he was and he did shows for royalty and we flew around the world. You know we had a fairytale life and we were so happy together.
"But Paul as a person was like in the village, in the queue for the post office, either doing tricks on them or making them all laugh. And he was as happy doing that as he was walking on stage at the Palladium or doing a TV show or doing a show for the Royal Family. He loved people. He was interested in everybody. "
She said Daniels had not known he was dying.
"Paul didn't know at all. The tumour was pressing on the part of the brain that processes information. So although he was talking and communicating and knowing who I was and everything, he actually wasn't taking in new information, which is actually quite hard to tell," she said.
When she first found out the news she came back from hospital and "cried the whole night", but then resolved to make the time he had left the "best time possible".
Choking back the tears, McGee added: "He never saw me cry. I smiled. I put my make up on and hair every day."
The pair spent their remaining time together at home eating magnums, watching ITV's The Chase and spending time in the garden.
She said: "Our life has been full of laughter and that's what it's been the last few weeks. Up until the last 48 hours when he slipped into a sleep."
Earlier Gary Daniels, one of the entertainer's three sons, said on Twitter: "It is with incredible sadness that I can confirm that Dad, Paul Daniels, passed away over night."
The tweet included a picture of a rabbit in a magician's black hat with a tear it its eye. Outside the hat was an Ace of Hearts playing card with the heart broken.
A statement from Daniels' publicist said: "One of our most beloved entertainers, Paul Daniels, has passed away at the age of 77.
"The TV star, who was diagnosed with a brain tumour earlier this year, passed away peacefully at home with Debbie at his side in the early hours of this morning.
"Debbie and the family would like to thank everyone for their support and asks that their privacy be respected at this sad time."
Born Newton Edward Daniels in Middlesbrough in 1938, Daniels became interested in magic as a young child.
After coming second in talent show Opportunity Knocks, he was offered a regular slot on the ITV variety show The Wheeltappers And Shunters Social Club.
In 1979 The Paul Daniels Magic Show hit UK screens on the BBC and he became a household name.
Before his death, the magician encouraged members of the public to donate money for research into cancer.
A gofundme page to raise funds was set up by son Gary.
A message on Daniels' official Twitter page said: "If everyone donated just £1 we could give over £56,000 to charity, this is to help others, not me."
Over the years, Daniels lent his time and support to various charities.
He entertained children at Great Ormond Street Hospital and took part in numerous charity events, especially those with children at their heart.
Last year, he supported the Garden Re-Leaf appeal, which aimed to raise funds to support families who use children's hospices around the UK.
When his BBC series was axed in 1994, Daniels presented game shows and he also participated in various TV shows.
He was seen in the likes of ITV's The X Factor: Battle Of The Stars and Channel 4′s Celebrity Wife Swap, in which he tried living with broadcaster Vanessa Feltz.
In 2001, the magician and his wife were the subject of BBC documentary maker Louis Theroux's When Louis Met ... series.
On Twitter, Theroux said: "RIP Paul Daniels, a thoughtful skeptic, enemy of hucksterism and paranormal flimflam, and gifted magician. My condolences to his family."
In 2010, Daniels donned a tuxedo for Strictly Come Dancing and was partnered with Ola Jordan.
He became the second celebrity to be voted off the show.