A life in pictures: How Paul Daniels became one of TV's most popular entertainers

Magician and entertainer Paul Daniels has lost his fight with brain cancer at the age of 77. He entertained audiences both here and abroad for decades.


Paul Daniels

Paul Daniels (Suzanne Hubbard/PA)


It was on February 20 that news first broke of his illness.

Famous for his self-deprecating humour, his catchphrase was: “You’ll like this… not a lot, but you’ll like it.”

We look back at his life and career in the spotlight in pictures.


Early days

Comedian and magician Paul Daniels

Comedian and magician Paul Daniels (Sten Rosenlund/Rex/Shutterstock)


Born Newton Edwards Daniels in Middlesbrough in 1938, Paul became interested in magic as a young child. But it wasn’t until 1969 that he became a full-time magician when he performed a summer season at Newquay.

The following year, Paul came second in talent show Opportunity Knocks, which led to him being offered a regular slot on the ITV variety show The Wheeltappers And Shunters Social Club.


Success at the BBC

Paul Daniels in 1985

Paul Daniels in 1985 (PA)


In 1979, The Paul Daniels Magic Show hit UK screens on the BBC. The magician finally became a household name thanks to the prime time Saturday night time slot.

Regularly attracting audiences of 15 million, it was sold to many countries around the world.

In 1985, his Easter TV special was entered for the prestigious Rose d’Or (Golden Rose) TV festival in Switzerland – the annual event for television executives and media journalists. The show won the coveted Golden Rose of Montreux trophy.


Marriage to Debbie

Paul Daniels and Debbie McGee

Paul Daniels and Debbie McGee (PA)


When Debbie McGee met Paul, she was a soloist in the Iranian National Ballet in Tehran who had been forced to flee the country when the 1979 Iranian Revolution erupted.

The successful ballerina auditioned as a dancer and was selected for The Paul Daniels Show in Great Yarmouth. She eventually became his magic assistant.

The couple, who had started dating despite a 20-year age difference, married in 1988.


Work and home

Paul Daniels and his wife Debbie McGee

Paul Daniels and his wife Debbie McGee (Martin Keene/PA)


Paul’s first marriage to wife Jacqueline produced three sons – Paul, Gary and Martin, who followed his father into show business. He presented ITV’s Game For A Laugh and appeared on The Les Dennis Laughter Show.

Debbie, always introduced on Paul’s BBC series as “the lovely Debbie McGee”, continued to be his magic assistant until The Paul Daniels Show was axed in 1994.


A trusted brand

Paul Daniels in 1995


Paul’s status as a popular entertainer led to tie-ups with several big brands. Here he is launching the National Lottery second Instant Win game in 1985.


Life after a famous telly series

Paul Daniels and Gillian Kearney

Paul Daniels and Gillian Kearney (Neil Munns/PA)


In 2011, Paul described the cancellation of his BBC show as “the biggest relief”.

“I never realised that for 16 years I’d been under that pressure. I was always writing, designing the illusions, the props, the material. In any given series, I would never do the same kind of trick more than once,” he told The Telegraph.

Free for other ventures, Paul signed up for pantomimes and hit the stage in a number of productions. He’s pictured alongside Goodnight Sweetheart’s Gillian Kearney in the Comedy Theatre’s production of Moliere’s The School for Wives in 1997.


Charity endeavours

Paul Daniels in 1998

Paul Daniels in 1998 (PA)


Over the years, Paul lent his time and support to various charities. He entertained children at Great Ormond Street Hospital and is pictured here at a charity golf game which raised funds for Sports Aiding Medical Research For Kids.


Branching out on TV

Paul Daniels and Debbie McGee

Paul Daniels and Debbie McGee (Channel 5/PA)


Paul presented game shows in the 1980s and 1990s and he also participated in various TV shows. Viewers watched him on ITV’s The X Factor: Battle Of The Stars and Channel 4's Celebrity Wife Swap, in which Paul tried living with Vanessa Feltz.

Alongside Debbie, he also signed on for Channel 5′s The Farm in 2004, only to quit the rural reality show after a bust-up with fellow participant Vanilla Ice.

The entertainer packed his bags after a row with the former Ice Ice Baby rapper – real name Robert van Winkle – over the Iraq War.


Strictly having fun

Paul Daniels in 2010

Paul Daniels in 2010 (Yui Mok/PA)


Paul signed up for BBC ballroom series Strictly Come Dancing in 2010 and was partnered by Ola Jordan. He became the second celebrity to be voted off the show.

After the elimination, he said: “I’ve had a wonderful time on Strictly Come Dancing – I really have. If I hadn’t had a good time, I’d tell you!”


A television favourite

Paul Daniels and Debbie McGee

Paul Daniels and Debbie McGee (Ken McKay/ITV/Rex/Shutterstock)


The late star’s success was unrivalled in the magic and entertainment world. His wit, charm, and magic skills earned him a reputation which meant that he performed to Princes William and Harry, Prime Ministers John Major and James Callaghan, Prince Rainier of Monaco and others.

In his later years, Paul and his wife toured the country with magic and comedy shows, entertaining old fans and new generations alike with his skills.


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