Magician Paul Daniels has described his joy at seeing Teesside’s steel industry being sparked back into life with the re-lighting of the Redcar blast furnace at the weekend – and revealed that his own home has ‘Dorman Long’ running right through it.
South Bank born Paul is known to millions of magic fans all over the world.
From the moment he burst onto our TV screens in the early 70’s, his magic shows topped the ratings up and down the land and made him the most successful TV magician of the 20th Century.
BBC1’s The Paul Daniels Magic Show was a huge hit from 1979-1994, and numerous other TV & tour credits include a hugely successful 14-month West End Theatre run, presenting game shows Odd One Out and Every Second Counts, and also being part of Strictly Come Dancing in 2010.
But before fame came knocking, Paul grew up in a long-demolished terrace house in South Bank’s North Street – the site of today’s ASDA supermarket – absolutely bang on the doorstep of the huge steelworks which dominated the landscape.
Paul said: “I knew this was coming, but when I saw the news at the weekend I just thought YES!
“I grew up right bang in the middle of the works really – or Dorman Long as it used to be called – and steel was just a huge part of everyone’s life in those days.
“My uncles used to work there, and they actually used to light their fags on the steel while they were turning all the hot metal. Absolutely mad,” he joked. “Everyone knows smoking is dangerous!
“South Bank was the most polluted town in the country at the time, but we just got on with things really.
“As kids we used to play on the slag heaps at Clay Lane – I hope they’re not bringing those back – and I remember them as really happy days.
“So I know what steel means to the area, and I’m absolutely thrilled to see it still going strong for future generations.
“Even now, the years go by and I find myself living in a nice house by the river in Henley. The house was built in the fifties, is completely steel framed, and the steel has Dorman Long stamped all over it. So, it’s almost like ‘the works’ have followed me all along the way.”
The news comes as Paul and his wife Debbie McGee are looking forward to an eagerly anticipated homecoming gig at Middlesbrough Theatre with his hit Edinburgh Festival show Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow this Saturday night (21 April).
Paul said: “I’m really looking forward to Saturday. Middlesbrough Theatre was my first ever gig almost 50 years ago. I played there with the Middlesbrough Circle of Magicians, and my hobby has taken me all around the world ever since.
“I’ve had a lot of fun with this brand new show up at Edinburgh last year and on this tour so far – but Middlesbrough is the gig I can’t wait to play. It feels like a real homecoming and I’m looking forward to a great night.”
Paul Daniels: Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow. Middlesbrough Theatre. Saturday 21 April. Also starring: Debbie McGee & Kev Orkian. Doors: 6.45pm. Show: 7.30pm. Last remaining tickets: £16.00. Box Office: 01642 81 51 81 or 01642 729 729.