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Last Updated: Friday, 8 August, 2003, 07:58 GMT 08:58 UK
Paul Daniels' Fringe benefits
By Jenny Green
BBC News

Magician Paul Daniels has taken his one-man show to the Edinburgh Fringe, promising to combine levitation with levity while answering any questions the audience throw at him.

It is his first time at the Fringe, but he appears to be being treated well by the public, with people stopping him in the street to chat.

Paul Daniels
Daniels says "TV is not big time any more"
"The public has been very good to me," he tells BBC News Online.

Although his TV career is a shadow of its former self, Daniels says that has not affected the warmth of his reception, adding: "There is a greater intensity of interest here."

He is appearing at the St Cut's Fringe venue, performing two shows - one is called An Audience With Paul Daniels and involves exactly that - as well as the promise of "showbiz stories".

The second show - The Magic of Max Malini - sees the magician weave a fascinating yarn about a little-known conjuror-to-the-rich of the 1920s, splicing his tale with some of Malini's old magic.

Daniels, who is appearing at the 600-seat venue until the end of August, says he likes "the amateurishness" of the Fringe, adding: "I like the fact there are so many bad acts up here."

And he is certainly happy with how things are going for him, saying he is "already having a fabulous time - better than I expected", describing himself as a "happy bunny".

He is quick to point out to BBC News Online that just because he has disappeared from our TV screens, he has never stopped doing the job he loves.

Paul Daniels
Daniels has performed his act around the world
He touches on this subject in his act, telling the audience that he no longer does television is because he "can't cook".

Undeterred by his lack of TV work, he said there was more value in live performance, adding: "It's better to go and see a bad live show than to watch a bad TV show.

"Television is not big time any more."

Daniels, previously a TV entertainer for 20 years, blames "media studies students trained in demographics" for a general "decline" in TV quality today.

And with his focus firmly on Edinburgh, he says that doing two shows has kept him so busy that he has only had time to catch a couple of other acts performing at the same venue as him.

He appears to be at home in the Scottish capital, saying that as the son of a cinema owner and nephew of a "naughty" dancing icon, he had always fancied a life in showbiz.

'Incredibly intense'

But as a shy child he did not make it until he was in his 30s, finally seeing a male stripper and realising he "could never look as stupid as that".

Taking his cue from "all the great stars, like Shirley Bassey and Ella Fitzgerald", he says he admires their ability to "know nothing will go wrong" and "let it all hang out".

This is what Daniels calls "the entertainment factor".

As well as performing magic shows around the world, he has continued to create his own brand of entertainment, by becoming a regular on the after-dinner and motivational speaking circuits.

So far he does not know whether he will return to Edinburgh yet - it will depend on if he can fit it in.

"My life is incredibly intense and I don't have much spare time," he says.

"I keep working because people keep asking me to work."

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