Thursday, 23 September 2021

Villagers & friends pay tribute to Paul Daniels

TRIBUTES have been paid to Paul Daniels after it was revealed he is suffering from terminal brain cancer

TRIBUTES have been paid to Paul Daniels after it was revealed he is suffering from terminal brain cancer.

The 77-year-old magician and entertainer from Wargrave is popular in this area after making dozens of appearances at community and charity events free of charge over many years.

He and his wife, radio presenter Debbie McGee, 57, have been inundated with messages of support from friends and well-wishers since they made the news public on Saturday.

In a statement, Daniels’s publicist said: “We can confirm that one of our greatest magicians and entertainers of all times, Paul Daniels, has sadly been diagnosed with an incurable brain tumour.

“On behalf of Paul, Debbie and their families, we thank you for your kind concerns and support at this time and ask that their privacy continues to be respected.”

The couple, who have been married for 28 years, have lived by the River Thames in Wargrave since 1998 and the magician has performed a number of sell-out shows at the village’s biennial festival.

Festival chairman Graham Howe said the couple had given a lot to both Wargrave and the festival for many years.

He said: “Paul and Debbie would go and judge the parade and they would go round and talk to all the children.

“They have worked with Wargrave Theatre Workshop and have attended events on the judging panel of our Strictly Come Dancing event.”

Mr Howe recalled how in 2013 the couple had agreed at one hour’s notice to pose for a photograph in their garden to promote the inaugural Strictly event.

He said: “They are true Wargravian contributors — they have been a bloody hoot!”

Daniels has raised at least £12,000 for the Royal National Lifeboat Institution with his shows at the festival.

Michael Porter, chairman of the Wargrave branch of the charity, said: “I did send them a message to say how sorry we were when we heard the news.

“Paul has given us tremendous support, starting in 2003, which was the first festival where he did a show on our behalf. He has done about four shows which have each raised between £3,000 and £4,000.

“The last couple of shows were all sold out on the morning of ticket day and a waiting list had to be started.

“Paul and Debbie have been an absolute pleasure to work with.”

Photographer Tim Hodges, of High Street, Wargrave, said: “I have known and photographed Debbie and Paul for some years now.

“They are a larger-than-life couple who have contributed a great deal to the Wargrave community, such as their involvement with Wargrave Theatre Workshop and Wargrave Village Festival, with great enthusiasm and  passion.

“They are the same characters off the stage as on it. In particular Paul demonstrated his magical prowess to any unsuspecting individual he met in a restaurant or pub, accompanied by some real cutting-edge humour.

“Like others, I am devastated by this tragedy and my heart goes out to both Debbie and Paul.”

Joy Haynes, membership secretary of Wargrave Theatre Workshop, of which Daniels has been president for 10 years, said: “We get tremendous support from him, especially when we are doing shows that need special effects.

“He has helped us tremendously with pantomimes. One that springs to mind was when we did Aladdin a few years ago where he had an effect of a magic carpet. It was absolutely brilliant — it looked as though it was really flying.

“He has helped us with lots of things. He comes along to our rehearsals and works with the cast. He did perform with us in one of our productions a few years ago. He is absolutely fantastic.”

Artist Bill Mundy, who lives in Wargrave Road, said: “As everyone knows, Paul is a world-class and most famous magician.

“He and Debbie have been friends of mine for over 20 years. We have been many times to Henley Royal Regatta together.

“I have painted Paul’s picture several times and he has taught me various things. He has been a really kind and caring friend.”

Daniels compered charity fashion shows and other events for the Rotary Club of Henley Bridge.

Mike Pooley, a member of the club, said he was shocked and very sorry to hear the news about the man he knows as “The Boss”.

He said: “Paul has done an awful lot and whenever he appears for us he makes the evening and we are always so grateful that he comes along.

“Paul is a very generous man, who makes people laugh and feel better.”Daniels has also supported the Kenton Theatre in Henley.

Ed Simons, chairman of the theatre trustees, said: “Paul is an amazing entertainer and I have seen many entertainers.

“He lights up a room when he comes in. I don’t think it is any accident that he has been the success that he has been; he is so good.

“Paul has been an amazing support to the Kenton. When we had one of our Kenton Keepers events at Fawley Court we had a Victorian tea party and he came and performed Victorian magic.

“Paul is always available for advice on how to do things — he is so approachable.”

Dancer Ola Jordan, who partnered Daniels in the 2010 series of the BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing, said she felt “gutted”.

“My heart goes out to him and his family,” she said. “Paul was an absolute pleasure to work with.”

A spokeswoman for the Mill at Sonning, where Daniels was due to perform in April, said everyone there was “shocked and saddened” by the news of his illness. She said: “Paul and Debbie have been great supporters of The Mill at Sonning, from helping with special effects in plays to introducing family and friends to the theatre. He is just the best.”

Daniels, who was born in Middlesbrough, wanted to become a magician from the age of 11 when he read a book about entertaining at parties and he began performing as a hobby.

After National Service, he performed part-time in working men’s clubs. He went professional in 1969 when he was offered a summer season at Newquay.

He made his TV debut on Opportunity Knocks in 1970 and was runner-up.

He then landed a regular spot on the ITV show The Wheeltappers And Shunters Social Club.

But his big break came in 1979 with the launch of The Paul Daniels Magic Show on BBC1, which was an instant hit and ran for 15 years.

Daniels became one of the country’s best-loved television entertainers with his mix of tricks and jokes. His self-deprecating humour, which spawned catchphrases such as “You’ll like this… not a lot, but you’ll like it” helped draw 15 million viewers and the show was sold to 43 countries.

He went on to present a number of quiz programmes, such as Odd One Out, Every Second Counts and Wipe Out.

In 1980, Daniels starred in his own West End show for 14 months, breaking box office records.

He also performed in Las Vegas, where in 1983 he was named magician of the year, the first non-American to win the award.

The BBC axed his show in 1994 because it was said to be too old-fashioned.

Daniels, however, continued to make regular television and stage appearances. He has continued to perform his magic show and last year appeared in a production of Aladdin in Ipswich.

Daniels has always been the first person to laugh at  himself. His Twitter profile reads: “International sex symbol and bodybuilder and comedy magician. Avid Twitter user, married to the lovely Debbie McGee.”

The couple tied the knot in 1988 and the public has always been interested in their 20-year age gap.

In 1995 McGee was asked in a TV interview on The Mrs Merton Show, the comedy creation of Caroline Aherne: “What first attracted you to the millionaire Paul Daniels?”

More recently Daniels has had a series of minor health problems, beginning with a heart scare in 2010.

In 2011, he required medical attention after being deep-panned by a TV puppet. He was filming The Sooty Show for ITV when a pizza was thrown by Richard Cadell, who works the puppet, and hit him in the eye.

In 2012, Daniels feared that his career was over after trapping his left hand in a circular saw while doing some woodwork in his garden shed on New Year’s Day.

He drove himself to hospital in Henley and said later: “I had no idea what had been damaged or lost, or where I was, or anything. My head was full of the pain and the possible end of the magic.”

Daniels caused more concern for his fans in 2014 when he posted a picture of his arm in a sling on Twitter with the caption “Bummer”.

He was recovering from an operation to cure stenosing tenosynovitis, or “trigger finger”, a condition which affects the tendons.



TRIBUTES have been paid to Paul Daniels after it was revealed he is suffering from terminal brain cancer.

The 77-year-old magician and entertainer from Wargrave is popular in this area after making dozens of appearances at community and charity events free of charge over many years.

He and his wife, radio presenter Debbie McGee, 57, have been inundated with messages of support from friends and well-wishers since they made the news public on Saturday.

In a statement, Daniels’s publicist said: “We can confirm that one of our greatest magicians and entertainers of all times, Paul Daniels, has sadly been diagnosed with an incurable brain tumour.

“On behalf of Paul, Debbie and their families, we thank you for your kind concerns and support at this time and ask that their privacy continues to be respected.”

The couple, who have been married for 28 years, have lived by the River Thames in Wargrave since 1998 and the magician has performed a number of sell-out shows at the village’s biennial festival.

Festival chairman Graham Howe said the couple had given a lot to both Wargrave and the festival for many years.

He said: “Paul and Debbie would go and judge the parade and they would go round and talk to all the children.

“They have worked with Wargrave Theatre Workshop and have attended events on the judging panel of our Strictly Come Dancing event.”

Mr Howe recalled how in 2013 the couple had agreed at one hour’s notice to pose for a photograph in their garden to promote the inaugural Strictly event.

He said: “They are true Wargravian contributors — they have been a bloody hoot!”

Daniels has raised at least £12,000 for the Royal National Lifeboat Institution with his shows at the festival.

Michael Porter, chairman of the Wargrave branch of the charity, said: “I did send them a message to say how sorry we were when we heard the news.

“Paul has given us tremendous support, starting in 2003, which was the first festival where he did a show on our behalf. He has done about four shows which have each raised between £3,000 and £4,000.

“The last couple of shows were all sold out on the morning of ticket day and a waiting list had to be started.

“Paul and Debbie have been an absolute pleasure to work with.”

Photographer Tim Hodges, of High Street, Wargrave, said: “I have known and photographed Debbie and Paul for some years now.

“They are a larger-than-life couple who have contributed a great deal to the Wargrave community, such as their involvement with Wargrave Theatre Workshop and Wargrave Village Festival, with great enthusiasm and  passion.

“They are the same characters off the stage as on it. In particular Paul demonstrated his magical prowess to any unsuspecting individual he met in a restaurant or pub, accompanied by some real cutting-edge humour.

“Like others, I am devastated by this tragedy and my heart goes out to both Debbie and Paul.”

Joy Haynes, membership secretary of Wargrave Theatre Workshop, of which Daniels has been president for 10 years, said: “We get tremendous support from him, especially when we are doing shows that need special effects.

“He has helped us tremendously with pantomimes. One that springs to mind was when we did Aladdin a few years ago where he had an effect of a magic carpet. It was absolutely brilliant — it looked as though it was really flying.

“He has helped us with lots of things. He comes along to our rehearsals and works with the cast. He did perform with us in one of our productions a few years ago. He is absolutely fantastic.”

Artist Bill Mundy, who lives in Wargrave Road, said: “As everyone knows, Paul is a world-class and most famous magician.

“He and Debbie have been friends of mine for over 20 years. We have been many times to Henley Royal Regatta together.

“I have painted Paul’s picture several times and he has taught me various things. He has been a really kind and caring friend.”

Daniels compered charity fashion shows and other events for the Rotary Club of Henley Bridge.

Mike Pooley, a member of the club, said he was shocked and very sorry to hear the news about the man he knows as “The Boss”.

He said: “Paul has done an awful lot and whenever he appears for us he makes the evening and we are always so grateful that he comes along.

“Paul is a very generous man, who makes people laugh and feel better.”Daniels has also supported the Kenton Theatre in Henley.

Ed Simons, chairman of the theatre trustees, said: “Paul is an amazing entertainer and I have seen many entertainers.

“He lights up a room when he comes in. I don’t think it is any accident that he has been the success that he has been; he is so good.

“Paul has been an amazing support to the Kenton. When we had one of our Kenton Keepers events at Fawley Court we had a Victorian tea party and he came and performed Victorian magic.

“Paul is always available for advice on how to do things — he is so approachable.”

Dancer Ola Jordan, who partnered Daniels in the 2010 series of the BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing, said she felt “gutted”.

“My heart goes out to him and his family,” she said. “Paul was an absolute pleasure to work with.”

A spokeswoman for the Mill at Sonning, where Daniels was due to perform in April, said everyone there was “shocked and saddened” by the news of his illness. She said: “Paul and Debbie have been great supporters of The Mill at Sonning, from helping with special effects in plays to introducing family and friends to the theatre. He is just the best.”

Daniels, who was born in Middlesbrough, wanted to become a magician from the age of 11 when he read a book about entertaining at parties and he began performing as a hobby.

After National Service, he performed part-time in working men’s clubs. He went professional in 1969 when he was offered a summer season at Newquay.

He made his TV debut on Opportunity Knocks in 1970 and was runner-up.

He then landed a regular spot on the ITV show The Wheeltappers And Shunters Social Club.

But his big break came in 1979 with the launch of The Paul Daniels Magic Show on BBC1, which was an instant hit and ran for 15 years.

Daniels became one of the country’s best-loved television entertainers with his mix of tricks and jokes. His self-deprecating humour, which spawned catchphrases such as “You’ll like this… not a lot, but you’ll like it” helped draw 15 million viewers and the show was sold to 43 countries.

He went on to present a number of quiz programmes, such as Odd One Out, Every Second Counts and Wipe Out.

In 1980, Daniels starred in his own West End show for 14 months, breaking box office records.

He also performed in Las Vegas, where in 1983 he was named magician of the year, the first non-American to win the award.

The BBC axed his show in 1994 because it was said to be too old-fashioned.

Daniels, however, continued to make regular television and stage appearances. He has continued to perform his magic show and last year appeared in a production of Aladdin in Ipswich.

Daniels has always been the first person to laugh at  himself. His Twitter profile reads: “International sex symbol and bodybuilder and comedy magician. Avid Twitter user, married to the lovely Debbie McGee.”

The couple tied the knot in 1988 and the public has always been interested in their 20-year age gap.

In 1995 McGee was asked in a TV interview on The Mrs Merton Show, the comedy creation of Caroline Aherne: “What first attracted you to the millionaire Paul Daniels?”

More recently Daniels has had a series of minor health problems, beginning with a heart scare in 2010.

In 2011, he required medical attention after being deep-panned by a TV puppet. He was filming The Sooty Show for ITV when a pizza was thrown by Richard Cadell, who works the puppet, and hit him in the eye.

In 2012, Daniels feared that his career was over after trapping his left hand in a circular saw while doing some woodwork in his garden shed on New Year’s Day.

He drove himself to hospital in Henley and said later: “I had no idea what had been damaged or lost, or where I was, or anything. My head was full of the pain and the possible end of the magic.”

Daniels caused more concern for his fans in 2014 when he posted a picture of his arm in a sling on Twitter with the caption “Bummer”.

He was recovering from an operation to cure stenosing tenosynovitis, or “trigger finger”, a condition which affects the tendons.



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