Magician Paul Daniels is bowing out with a final ‘farewell to the legend’ tour.
Or so it seemed from his publicity. The irrepressible Yorkshireman said: “No, it’s the first farewell tour. The Stones and Frank and Status Quo, they all did it. I said to Debbie it’s about time we had one of them.”
He added: “The next one is going to be the next Debbie McGee shoe fund tour. She is sitting next to me in some big, furry boots she bought in Denmark. They’re not for going out in the wet in, though. That would ruin them, apparently.”
Paul’s wife, “the lovely Debbie McGee”, was of course famously the butt of a joke on the chat show Mrs Merton, when she was asked by the cheeky pensioner what first attracted her to the millionaire Paul Daniel.
Paul said: “Everyone thought it was a funny line but they didn’t realise just how funny it was. When Debbie married me I wasn’t nearly a millionaire but Caroline Aherne, who played Mrs Merton, had just married one.”
Taxi drivers still shout it at Debbie, he says.
She said: “It was a real giggle to do. I giggled all day with Caroline. I never took it seriously in any way.
“It was on one of those programmes on the 100 best lines on TV.” You get the feeling that she is proud of that.
But back to the stage show. Paul said: “It is a new show, easily the finest show I’ve ever put together We’re getting lots of Facebook reports and Twitter coverage.
“The magic baffles the audience. If people can stop and work it out you’re wasting your time.
“I’ve even got magicians coming to ask me about the last trick. I dreamed them up myself.”
He is underwhelmed by the street magicians who appeal to a new generation of TV viewers.
He said: “Street magic is stage magic without scenery and costumes. It’s no different to what magicians have been doing for years.”
Debbie added: “Our show isn’t old-fashioned. It’s got great scenery and lots of fun. It isn’t old-fashioned but it is glamorous.”
Paul points out that his TV shows got 16 million viewers, an audience that TV producers today can only dream of.
“Guys like Dynamo and David Blaine are very nice guys. They do magic their way. It’s like every other form of entertainment – you like the presenter or you don’t.”
Paul does keep up to date with youngsters in his use of social media. He has seen its potential to help him promote himself.
His website, pauldaniels.co.uk, is also sophisticated.
Paul said: “I had a young guy come to me after the show one night, asking how come an old guy knows about this? I said because we invented it.
“I got into computer program writing when I was younger. I had my own games. I’ve got a rabbits game in development which I’m advising on. There’s no money in it but it’s great fun.”
But at heart he is a great live entertainer. Paul said: “If I can get them into the theatre, they’ll come again to see another show.
“I would say to your young readers, if you go home from work at night and sit in front of the TV, you’re wasting your life.
“Buy a ticket for the theatre, even if it’s something you don’t think you’d like.”
He says he’s not interested in returning to our TV screens any time soon. “I’ve been there, done that and it doesn’t really interest me now.”
There are some ideas he may develop but he says he’ll probably put them on the internet.
Paul has dabbled in reality TV, appearing on Strictly Come Dancing, which was a happier event than Wife Swap or The Farm. He said of that latter: “It’s not what we were promised. I walked off that one. “
Debbie said about I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here: “You’re so manipulated and they don’t feed you properly.”
Older readers may have seen Paul in Sheffield when he was a regular on the club scene. He has fond memories of playing the Fiesta in Sheffield city centre when the great singer Ella Fitzgerald was top of the bill.
He said: “She was lovely. In those days the big stars never watched the supporting acts, so I did a gag about her.
“At the end of the week I came in with some of her albums to get them autographed. She said, ‘Man you are so funny. I am going to tell all of my fans in the States about you. I loved that gag.’ I wanted the ground to open up under me.”
Clearly, it took a legend to get under his skin.
Paul Daniels will be at the Pomegranate Theatre, Chesterfield next Thursday (January 23). Box office: 01246345222 or online at www.chesterfieldtheatres.co.uk.
He is also appearing at the Lamproom Theatre, Barnsley on Sunday, February 9. Box office: 01226 200075 or go to www.barnsleylamproom.com