You can take David Blaine, you can keep the glamour of David Copperfield, because when it comes to magic only old-school will do. That's why pocket-sized Paul Daniels is still a firm family favourite, along with his beautiful assistant and wife, Debbie McGee.
When the magical pairing where regularly on TV, we'd tune in in our masses to his programme (The Paul Daniels Magic Show, BBC, 1979-1994) just to catch a glimpse of a new trick, to be wowed and have our mouths wide open. Was it perhaps his wig causing these kinds of reactions? No, it was your simple trickery that had crowds guessing, just how did he do that?!
But of course you didn't have to wonder for too long, as pretty soon we were able to buy ourselves a Paul Daniels Magic Set. The box claimed it contained '150 magic tricks', however nothing could have prepared you for the disappointment of tearing into it on Christmas morning only to discover a measly rope, a set of plastic balls, a few thimbles, some playing cards, a wand (natch!), some plastic discs and two die. What, no Debbie McGee? It was a travesty, Luckily, there was also an instruction booklet included to help you make some sense of it all.
Enthusiasm, as we came to realise, would only get you so far. As a lot of practise was required in order to pull the wool over your big brother or sister's eyes. Mum and Dad were a little easier. And being kids, most of us would have happily chosen the option of having a microchip implanted into our necks to enable us to execute magical tricks in an instant. For those who stuck with the Paul Daniels Magic Sets, they were rewarded by mastering enough tricks to impress the family and all the impatient kids at school. Sometimes you could even get a stand-in Debbie McGee to assist in the show. It's a nice touch that the set's instructions even advised Paul's pupils to develop their own magician's patter, and that they did. Well, kids love to talk, don't they. Abracadabra etc...
There were also individual Paul Daniels Magic Tricks to collect separately from the set - 30 in all. These ranged in level of difficulty, all colour-coded so not to get above your station to soon. They came in cardboard pouch-like packaging, with Paul Daniel's smiley face slapped on the front of every one. Apparently it didn't matter that the same photo - incidentally, he wore a wig for it, which he has now finally abandoned - was used on every pouch released, despite them spanning four years of his life.