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TV Interview

Julia Bradbury, Pete Firman 'Magicians' Q&A: People always love magic

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BBC One has brought live magic back to Saturday nights with the revamped, celeb-filled Magicians. Partnering up celebs with an elite team of star magicians, the show features pre-recorded stunts and live mega-illusions.

Digital Spy caught up with magic man Pete Firman and one of this week's special guests, Julia Bradbury, to get the gossip about this weekend's show.

Magician Pete


Do you have any magic background at all, Julia?
Julia: "I can honestly say that I have no background in magic whatsoever other than having the dream when I was a little girl of being the woman who gets cut in half."

That was everyone's dream as a kid, right?
Julia: "Well it was for me. I was strangely fascinated by magic shows as a child and I always thought the assistants looked really glamorous. I always wanted to jump in the box and be sawed in half. That probably makes me a bit weird, really."

Why you think magic fell out of favour on TV?
Julia: "I think it's cyclical. Things fall out of favour and come back again. I think now, people are more receptive to fantasy, magic and that sort of entertainment. I think everyone is looking for light relief and sparkle at the moment. It's certainly new and different to have magic back on our screens on our Saturday nights and this show is so full of energy. It is proper entertainment and the hour just zooms past. Each magician has their own style and it's a proper family entertainment fun thing."
Pete: "Like Julia said, it's cyclical. Shows like Britain's Got Talent are reworkings of Opportunity Knocks. The formats work, they just need resting sometimes. People have always loved magic and I think it's just the right time to bring it back to BBC One Saturday nights."
Julia: "I think that dusty old image of magic is long gone. It's so much more modern and avant garde now. I think magic has grown up and taken technology in its stride. You'll certainly notice that in the programme. You can see how much magic has changed and how many illusions are making use of modern technology."

What can you tell us about Saturday night?
Julia: "I'm sworn to secrecy. I've become a member of the Magic Circle. Anybody I tell anything to I have to kill afterwards. But Pete has been a marvellous teacher. He's been a wizard. He's taught me the art of levitation and I'm learning lots of other magical things. Who knows, maybe my dream will come true and I'll get chopped in two."
Pete: "We're doing a big large outdoor massive-scale illusion that involved music and magic. That's very cool. And today, I've done a little spot of levitation, but I can't reveal anymore than that. The best bit for me is seeing the celebrity's face as they work through the magic. Julia's been great because she just throws herself into it and has all the banter you need in magic."

You lost on the show last week, Pete. Does that mean you'll be doing something especially magical this weekend?
Pete: "I need to pull out all the stops after getting the forfeit last week. I'll be using every magical stunt in the book. Dancing girls, pyros, the lot!"
Julia: "It's very, very, very, very big. The live magical illusion on Saturday will be so nerve-wracking. Let's just hope I don't mess it up and ruin Pete's career in one moment."

Does the Magic Circle still exist?
Pete: "Yeah, it does exist. It's the world's oldest society. I must admit that I'm not personally a member. I don't know if they'd have me, is the truth! But in terms of a magical code of ethics and secrecy, I think entering into a show like this, you have a certain amount of good faith. These secrets are precious and all the celebrities on this show have put the work in and are taking it seriously. I'm really excited about the people we've got coming up as well. There's Joe Swash, Arlene Phillips, Mel from Mel & Sue. I can't wait."

Watch a teaser for this weekend's Magicians:


Where do you see your career heading as a magician?
Pete: "Vegas! I'd love to be in my showroom. I know a guy in Vegas who does two shows a day. He's a comedy magician and he's wrapped up in time to pick his daughter up from afterschool club. That just sounds like a great life to me. I think as a older man, that would be the life. As an older man, relaxing and taking it easy, Vegas is the place to be. Saturday night BBC One isn't bad though."

Does magic help you with attracting women?
Pete: "I thought the tricks would get the chicks, but I was wrong. Unfortunately, it seems girls aren't interested in the never-ending card trick. I used to try it in the student union when I was studying, but I think I just looked like a loser. To be honest, when I'm not doing a gig or a show, I'm turned off. This is despite my father constantly badgering me to show everyone another card trick. That never stops. It must be a parental thing. From eight years old to 31, I get the same line, 'Show your gran another card trick'."

Who is your magic hero?
Pete: "When I was a kid... do you remember Crackerjack? There was a magician on there called the Great Soprendo. His magic words were piff, paff, puff. I used to think he was great. I saw Paul Daniels when I was a kid. Penn & Teller had a show on Channel 4 when I was a teenager and I realised magic could be edgy and cool. They showed there was more to it than pulling endless handkerchiefs tied together from out of your sleeve. They were a big inspiration. It blows my mind to think that I was watching these sorts of things as a kid and now I'm up there doing it."

Has this show ruined magic for you, Julia?
Julia: "It doesn't ruin anything for me, Alex, because it's magic. Everyone needs a bit of magic in their lives and I need it as much as the next person."

You are battling against David Hasselhoff this week. Have you got any chance of beating him?
Julia: "The Hoff will of course have a few tricks up his sleeve. He's a big man with a big personality. The benefit for me is that I'm the only woman on the show. I'm going to use my feminine charms and hopefully we'll be ok."

Magicians airs on Saturday, January 14 at 6.35pm on BBC One

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