Thursday 23 November 2017

You'll Like This -- But Not A Lot -- Magic on TV

Paul Daniels

Old-school magician Paul Daniels made for an unlikely prime-time TV star but The Paul Daniels Magic Show ran on the BBC from 1979 to 1994, regularly attracting up to 12 million viewers.

Daniels' outspoken right-wing political views and his old fashioned, end-of-the-pier style, together with catchphrase "You'll like this, not a lot, but you'll like it" eventually saw him go out of fashion.

And a bizarre performance, together with wife 'The lovely Debbie McGee', on one of Louis Theroux's When Louis Met ... shows in 2001 turned him into a figure of fun.

However, like all great variety troupers, Daniels has hung in there and continues to perform live magic while appearing on various reality TV shows.

Derren Brown

Don't call him the "English David Blaine", Derren is an "illusionist, mentalist, painter, writer, and sceptic" in his own right.

The 39-year-old has enjoyed major success on UK TV with a series of major stunts and specials since debuting with Derren Brown: Mind Control in 2000.

Smart, inventive and admirably sceptical (he has regularly used his shows to debunk the claims of self-proclaimed mind-readers and spiritualists), Brown mixes old-fashioned showmanship with a very modern attitude.

However, he has been known to go too far, as with 2003's Derren Brown Plays Russian Roulette Live, when senior police officers in the UK warned him about possible copycat behaviour and Channel 4 was forced to admit that Derren had -- surprise, surprise -- used blank ammunition.

David Blaine

The weirdly monotonal, blank-faced New Yorker has made himself an international star thanks to his TV specials, featuring expertly executed "street magic" and his endurance stunts.

Often called the "modern-day Houdini", Blaine, has been buried alive, drowned, frozen solid and suspended over London's Thames river in a plexi-glass box for 44 days.

Tommy Cooper

He may not have been the greatest magician in history, but Tommy Cooper was certainly the funniest and his TV shows were a mainstay of prime TV throughout the '70s.

Cooper was better at delivering jokes than expert illusions, peppering his hopeless attempts at magic ("Observe closely! Glass! Bottle! Bottle! Glass!") with Cooperisms such as: "Last night I dreamt I ate a 10-pound marshmallow. When I woke up, the pillow was gone!"

Irish Independent

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