2001-2008
Home
Main
- About TFT
Friday Thing Archive
- Politics
- Media
- Culture and Society
- War On Terror
- People
- Places
- World
- Popped Clogs
- Music
- Books
- Film
- Etc
Help And Info
- Contact Details
- Advertising
- Jobs
- Privacy Policy
- XML Feed

Home > People

Paul Daniels: as illusive as ever

Middlesbrough's most magical export tells us about handling Louis Theroux and building sledges.

6 November 2003

Linguist, inventor, onetime target of that smug little sod Louis Theroux, and famous vanisher of handkerchiefs, Paul Daniels is one of the hardest working men in show business. Especially now that Bob Hope is dead and Ronald Reagan isn't doing as many films as he used to.

Earlier this year Paul had two shows at the Edinburgh Fringe - 'An Audience With Paul Daniels', and 'The Magic of Max Malini' - which were reviewed in our Edinburgh Diary:

Both were excellent (particularly the Q & A session, although he never answered my question 'have you ever used your powers for evil?', which was a shame). Daniels is an absolute master of a live audience - having worked his way up through working men's clubs and the cabaret circuit - and he had us eating out of the palm of his hand... He put on a better show than Ross Noble, and that's the God's honest truth.

Not bad. And to top it all, on October 31st Debbie celebrated her birthday. Happy birthday Debbie.

ß

We met up with Paul across a cafť table. What follows is half of what was said. The other half is lost forever because the mini-disc seems to have been corrupted (by magic?) and all you can hear is 20 minutes of:


> So, asoihdaoss hsfffffsdh asdoisgggh fffasodho?

Ffssasss sihahdaddafafasfa, fiaifafhshfyaffa ysfnfnofoina sfafyaisyfasfoianfio nsifh yydysfsydfi s idyfosi ydfoisydfoiysddf yyfyfffssss fyfsfsfiohfohsh! [laughter]


Which is dull and probably we ought to sue TDK, but weíd only lose and then weíd have to pay the legal costs and The Friday Thing would go under and that would be sad. So we wonít.

ß

> Who is your favourite entertainer?

My favourite magician has to be Max Malini. But according to Sinatra and Sammy Davis Junior, Al Jolson was the greatest entertainer they ever saw. And then thereís Maurice Fogle, who was a mind-reading magic act; he had that same enormous charisma, enormous. I think maybe you've got to be Jewish; it's a Jewish trait perhaps. I don't know.


> How did you deal with Louis Theroux?

I watched Louis Theroux handling Jimmy Saville, and I said to Debbie "why is Jimmy babbling?" I know why... Louis Theroux asks a question, and you answer it, and he says nothing - and if you're a broadcaster you can't stand quiet, so you start doing fill, so I said to Deb, notice that and don't babble. Answer the question succinctly, then say nothing. They can't transmit nothing. Then, I said, we need a couple of red herrings for him to meander off on - because heís a nosey bugger. I mean, I quite like him. I don't mind Louis.

So, we had Swan Lake out at the time, and I made a wooden duck on wheels and Louis was wanting to pull it across the stage - and be seen to be involved - and I said, no, We can't do that - and he focused on that duck and missed completely that our chief male ballet dancer had a storming row with the lead ballerina - and left the show an hour before we due to open on the opening night. Louis never got it, and we were all keeping him playing with the wooden duck. Louis missed it all.


> What did you make of the end result?

Well, what is extraordinary is the amount of money they spent on it. He was with us for three months. He came to Portugal with me, with a full crew. And none of that was seen, and then they say thereís no money for programmes! Three months to make 50 minutes? I used to do that in two and a half hours. I just find that a misuse of money. When I'm in charge of the BBC it will all change. Move over, Greg!


> What do you miss most about your TV show?

Itís a shame that all that street cred I built up over the years has gone.


> What keeps you going?

I don't know where the bloody energy comes from, I really don't! But I just love to perform. I love an audience. Do you know - the best warm up man I've ever seen is Clive Anderson. He really is; the audience love him.


> What is your favourite memory of snow?

A few years ago - when my father was still alive - it started to snow. My father was living in a cottage in the grounds of our house, this was after heíd had a stroke and was paralysed down one side of his body. So anyway, I popped into the cottage to see him, and my father was looking out of the window at the falling snowflakes, and he turned and said to me "I wish I could go out into the snow" - and I took myself off to my garage, and found an old sledge and got my tools out and fixed a chair on top of it, and an old horseís bridle to the front. And I got my father into the chair and put the bridle round my shoulders, and I pulled him around and around the garden in the snow, slipping and sliding as I went, and my father was shouting for joy, waving his one good arm about. And thatís my favourite memory of snow.


> What next for Paul Daniels?

I am writing my diary. And working on my websites. I had a website before most people had computers.


> Have you ever directed a show?

I directed Jack Tinkerís show - the theatre critic. He tried it out on the QE2 and it bombed (sorry, I'm in England again - Iíll speak English) it *died* and I happened to be in the audience, and he was in despair, and I said Iíll buy you a drink, címon son. And I took him aside - he had all this high tech stuff, I got rid of that, and I twisted it all around, compartmentalized it so he had sequences to go to - it worked. He was offered Australia, but he never made it. He died. Very sad.


> Have you ever been to Peru?

No, but I've been invited. Er.... Peru - ping! - Why is fire insurance so cheap in Peru? Itís so high thereís not enough oxygen to maintain a really good blaze. I've worked with a Peruvian. Michael Bentine. He was very much into the supernatural. I'm very much not into it. And we had long discussions about it. A very kind man, very nice to my sons.


> How do you keep trim?

Whenever Debbie says I'm looking a bit chunky, I go on the Norman Wisdom diet. Itís the diet that Norman himself devised, and it works too. Basically what you aaahfhihs ishdohsfo ihohshiosisss ff fhfhfosihd ffodihd

ß

- and so the mini-disc corruption begins - curse you, TDK!


For all your latest Paul Daniels information, visit his official site:

http://www.pauldaniels.co.uk/html/index.htm

You can find out more about Max Malini here:

http://www.komikerklubben.se/malini.htm

And here is an ancient sledge:

http://www.mesopotamia.co.uk/tombs/explore/pg800_10.html



Comment on this article: letters@thefridaything.co.uk

Subscribe to The Friday Thing for free


 ABOUT THE FRIDAY THING
Bad words ahead The Friday Thing is a weekly email comment sheet. Casting a cynical eye over the week's events, it is rarely fair and never balanced.

A selection of articles from each week's issue appear online, but to enjoy the full Thing, delivered by email every Friday - as well as access to almost five years of back issues - you'll need to subscribe. It's absolutely free.

READERS WRITE
"Razor-sharp comment and gossip." - The Sunday Times

"Hilariously cynical..To describe it as 'irreverent' is to do the newsletter an injustice." - The Observer

"Sharp, intelligent, opinionated, uncompromising and very, very funny. Just like 'Private Eye' used to be." - Alec McKelland

"Wicked" - Channel 4

"Ace" - Time Out

"'We rise once again in advocacy of The Friday Thing. We realize that some of you may be unwilling to spend [your money] on plain-text comment, but you're only depriving yourself." - The Minor Fall, The Major Lift

"Subscribing to this at the beginning of the year was undoubtedly one of the better decisions I've made. Superlative, and utterly marvellous. I look forward to Fridays now, because I can't wait for the next issue. Fucking fucking brilliant." - Meish.org

"Featuring writers from The Observer, Smack The Pony and The 11 O'Clock Show... will continue to attract new subscribers sight unseen" - NeedToKnow

"The Friday Thing is so good it's stopping me from doing a bunk of a Friday afternoon." - Annie Blinkhorn (The Erotic Review)

"So now" - The Evening Standard

"Damn it, you rule. May you never, ever back down." - Paul Mayze

"Ace" - PopJustice

"Snarky" - Online Journalism Review

"Can you please stop making me laugh out loud... I'm supposed to be working, you know!" - Tamsin Tyrwhitt

"Your coverage of stuff as it spills is right on the money." - Mike Woods

"Popbitch with A-Levels." - Tim Footman

"In an inbox full of trite work-related nonsense, TFT shines from under its subject heading like the sun out of Angus Deayton's arse." - Nikki Hunt

"A first rate email. It's become an integral part of my week, and my life would be empty and meaningless without it (well, *more* empty and meaningless anyway)." - Mark Pugh

"Genius, absolute bit of class. And you can quote me on that." - Lee Neville

"If you're hipper than hell, this is what you read." - MarketingSherpa

"The most entertaining email I've had all week. Great tone." - Matthew Prior

"A massive and engrossing wit injection." - idiotica.co.uk

"I wouldn't know satire if it bit me on the arse. But I did like the Naomi Campbell joke." - Matt Kelly (The Mirror)

"Has had an understandably high profile among people who know about these things." - Guy Clapperton (Guardian Online)

"Satirical sideswipes at the burning issues of the day." - Radio 5 Live

"Puerile and worthless... Truly fabulous... Do read the whole thing." - Stephen Pollard

© The Friday Thing 2001-2008 - All Rights Reserved