This light-hearted evening was full of laughs and ludicrous magic which had the audience transported back to their childhood days.
Being the tender age of 21, most people will probably be surprised to know that I actually grew up with Paul Daniel’s magic and flare. Something people will be less surprised to hear is that when you’re offered a free three-course meal and the chance to see one of your childhood heroes, you, of course, clear your diary.
I have to state here that I can’t stand magic, but when I was younger, I actually fancied the sassy Debbie McGee and found Paul Daniel’s humour an absolute switch-on so I developed a temporary interest in the art.
The evening was a bit of a mismatch. The first half was a Q&A – which went on for at least an hour longer than it should – then came the proper comedy magic show that we’d came to see.
The host, comedian, escapologist and magician extraordinaire, was local talent Chris Cross, who is known across Northumberland.
He kicked off the show and, in the process, picked on my companion to become part of his act, not actually realising we were reviewing the performance. His up-close, crude and comedic style was well-received by the audience and you could tell he was very much at home with his crowd.
Then, larger-than-life (metaphorically speaking), 77-year-old Daniels tottered out from back stage to join us.
The rest of the first half saw Cross interviewing the legend and his equally famous wife, with the audience asking questions that had probably been posed to the duo many times before.
Cross, obviously Daniels’ number one fan, took control of much of the conversation. There was a slight worry that all my dreams of Daniels were about to come crashing down as he started calling for National Service to be reinstated, but, luckily, I could wipe my brow as that was about as controversial as he got.
After a break, we returned for the second part which was all about magic and what we’d come to see.
I’m totally biased here, because I’m a man, but there was hardly any Debbie McGee in the second half, apart from the moment she came to do the classic mind-reading card trick, which used to astound me as a child.
There wasn’t actually a lot of magic going on, it was more about Daniels working the crowd, or tables, and picking out members of the audience to be humiliated – me being one of them!
When he asked what I did as a job, it took him no time to absolutely rinse me for being a journalist. Actually, I got more stick for being from Sunderland than anything else!
As I sat down, I realised why Daniels was so good at what he did and why he had been so successful over the years.
My friend was quick to tell me she hadn’t enjoyed the evening as much as she’d hoped. I was inclined to agree with her but then I remembered the moment I was up on the stage and actually having magic performed in front of my eyes with one of my childhood heroes.
I think the loser, in magic like this, is the audience. You can laugh along but unless you’re chosen to go up you don’t really get the full experience – although, a lot of people may disagree with that statement.
But expanding it further, and Daniels did comment on this, nowadays people expect an immersive experience with magic.
Modern exponents of the genre, like David Blaine or Derren Brown, create a fully theatrical experience, which can also transform to our TV screens.
Daniels’ simple form of magic, and the type I grew up with, tends not to capture people’s imagination as much now because the audience in 2015 expects more.
But looking back, the evening was something quite special, a chance to reminisce and probably be the last time I’ll experience a show like it again for a while to come.
PS. Debbie McGee is still really hot.