Paul Daniels's widow found performing tricks 'too emotional' after he died

The widow of magician Paul Daniels has said she stopped doing tricks after he died because it was too emotional for her.

Debbie McGee, who started out as Paul’s on-stage assistant, said her own tricks had always been part of her repertoire but she stopped performing them after the death of her husband.

However, that changed while she was filming her new series Celebrity Carry On Barging with Simon Callow, Nigel Havers and Lorraine Chase and finally felt ready to explore magic again.

Paul Daniels (Ian West/PA)

Debbie, who was married to Paul from 1988 until his death from a brain tumour in March last year, said: “I did one card trick on the last day.

“I always did a few and, really, magic was never my thing but it came from once people knew who I was, if I went to personal appearances they would always say ‘can you do a trick?’

“So I learned a repertoire of about six close-up tricks and then, on the TV shows, started doing a section of my own, and in our live shows I always did quite a lot that was mine and Paul would have a cup of tea in the dressing room.

Paul Daniels and Debbie McGee (Matthew Fearn/PA)

“So I have got a repertoire but since Paul died, magic was an area I couldn’t go down. All my work has not been related to magic whatsoever, and it (magic) is when I get emotional.

“But because the four of us did get on so well and I did have a deck of cards in my bag, I did some.

“I was quite nervous actually because it was the first time I had done something, but I really adored the three of them and felt it would add something a bit special to the trip.”

Debbie added that she had been concerned she would find filming the show, in which the stars take in the slow pace of life on Britain’s waterways, too distressing for her because it would remind her too much of boating trips with Paul.

Paul Daniels and Debbie McGee (PA)

She said: “I did think ‘How will I cope?’ but it was so busy and that was good for me.

“My first date with Paul was on the Norfolk Broads – it was a really big part of our life, we were both qualified helmsmen and one exam short of captain.

“We did all our training courses together, did lots of boating holidays and would come home from London at 8pm and go out on the boat for an hour in the summer, boats were a big part of my life with him.”

She said she took comfort from co-star Nigel, whose wife Polly died of ovarian cancer in 2004.

Nigel Havers in 2013 (Yui Mok)

Debbie said: “Nigel had been through a similar thing. He was great.

“He’s been through it and got through the other side and is now very happily married and met somebody else and it really made me realise life does go on.”

:: Celebrity Carry On Barging will air on Channel 5 on February 10 at 8pm.

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