The latest young magician to make it big on television is Troy Von Scheibner, who brings a touch of urban cool to the street magic format with his self-titled show Troy, currently showing on Channel 4 on Monday nights and E4 on Tuesdays.
With tricks like the above he’s sure to have Dynamo and others looking over their shoulder, and it got us thinking about our favourite magicians from TV history...
While he’s often a figure of fun for modern comedians and no doubt a little outdated, The Paul Daniels Magic Show was a mainstay of 80s television, running an incredible 15 years from 1979 to 1994 and making his catchphrase “You’ll like this… not a lot, but you’ll like it” known across the nation.
Classic trick: Cup and ball
Penn & Teller
Though best known in the US, the duo has become notorious across the globe and they could be considered the punks of the magic community. Loud, brash and with a flair for the gruesome, they frequently appear to break the magic circle golden rule of showing how their tricks are done – but often while creating a false sense of security from which even more amazing tricks are performed.
Classic trick: Bullet catch
Before it all went a bit bizarre with the starving/suspension/drowning stunts that seem more like dangerous tests of endurance (and attention seeking) than magic, Blaine can be credited with sensationally bringing the cool back to street magic and birthing the street show format that saw the likes of Dynamo and Troy follow in its wake.
Classic trick: Street levitation
In terms of commercial success, no other television illusionist comes close to New Jersey-born Copperfield, who has built a multi-million dollar fortune from elaborate television specials in the 1980s, followed by a relentless touring schedule since. With the wealth came ever more ambitious live television stunts, including famously making the Statue of Liberty disappear in 1983.
Classic trick: Vanishing the Statue of Liberty
The mixture of quick-fire gags and failing magic tricks made Tommy Cooper one of the nation’s favourite entertainers throughout the 70s and 80s. Despite the ramshackle routines, Cooper was known as an accomplished magician and his on-stage timing and slapstick performance are still an inspiration for a variety of television performers.
Classic trick: Spoon jar, jar spoon, spoon jar jar.
While Derren frequently reminds us that there’s no magic involved in his stunts, try telling that to his audiences. Following the huge success of the Trick of the Mind series for Channel 4, he’s been compelled to attempt ever-bigger set pieces, such as live specials predicting lottery numbers or playing Russian roulette. With a knack for what makes a great television spectacle, and something genuinely spooky about his mannerisms, he remains a unique talent with an army of devoted fans.
Classic trick: Zombie arcade games comes to life
Bradford-born Dynamo has emerged as the UK’s most recent magic star, with his Dynamo: Magician Impossible series wowing a host of popular celebrities including Pharrell Williams and Wayne Rooney. Like David Blaine and Derren Brown, his notoriety has brought increasingly large-scale stunts, such as appearing to walk across the River Thames and levitating alongside a London bus.
Classic trick: Bus levitation
The fascination of younger audiences is one of the greatest feats of magic, and in that sense Mulhern can be considered responsible for a generation of youngsters requesting magic sets for Christmas after watching his hit CITV shows. While he may not have the super cool draw of others on this list, there’s a strong chance he will have played a part in inspiring the UK’s next magic superstar.
Classic trick: Two card trick
Let us know your favourite TV magicians in the comments below.
Troy airs on Channel 4 every Monday at 10.50pm