LEGENDARY magician Paul Daniels will be back in Basingstoke this month for an intimate, not to be missed, show.

The genial star, plus his assistant wife, the lovely Debbie McGee, comes to Central Studio on Thursday, December 20 at 7.30pm for Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow, a few hours filled with magic, comedy and amazement.    

I was fortunate to be present at his last local appearance, and, as someone who grew up watching The Paul Daniels Magic Show on Saturday evenings (and loved Wizbit and Every Second Counts too!), I absolutely loved it – as did the sizeable audience. So why have we been lucky enough to secure a return visit?

He jokes: “The easy answer is because they kept pestering me. It was a nice space to work in and I like having the audience close to me during a show. People are always asking me, in interviews and on Facebook and Twitter, why I do small venues and I tell them it's because they are a LOT more fun than the big theatres. The show is much more like a party in such venues.”

Paul, born Newton Edward Daniels, has been in the business for a long time since a summer season in Newquay convinced the former grocer to sell his business and give magic a go full-time. He’s now 74 but never tires of performing live.

He says: “I love my 'job' because of the wide variety it offers me. For me, of course, ALL my shows are live. It's nice when people hark back to the TV series but the truth is that television was never my major source of work or income - I still perform privately, in theatres, in cabaret rooms, corporate or after dinner events in this country and abroad. 

“I have recently been working in France and negotiating with Chile. Like I said, I love the variety.”

What is the secret of his success and the longevity of his career, would he speculate?

“It's very hard to answer that without sounding conceited. I guess the secret is me and the fact that I enjoy what I'm doing. I love making people laugh and have a good time.

“The number one comment after every show is a compliment (I think) ‘I never knew you were that funny!’ and that comes at me from all age groups. Debbie has a huge fan base and audiences love her, her laugh, and her chat. She performs one or two magical effects of her own during the show which add to the magic.” 

*See Paul and Debbie on Thursday, December 20 at 7.30pm in Central Studio at QMC. Tickets priced £17.50 are available from 01256 418318.