Debbie McGee admits she hated magic and didn’t know who ‘painfully shy’ Paul was at first

Debbie McGee discusses Paul Daniels on Celebrity Mastermind

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Debbie McGee, 62, said she signed up for the job not knowing who Paul Daniels was at the time and believed he might’ve been a comedian. In the same chat, the ex Strictly Come Dancing star said her spouse was “painfully shy” before he made it big in the world of magic.

As a guest on a recent episode of Celebrity Mastermind, host John Humphrys asked her if she was fed up with being branded a magician’s assistant.

She said: “No, I had a wonderful time being a magician’s assistant.

“The funny thing is, when I first got my job with my late husband Paul Daniels on The Paul Daniels Magic Show, I didn’t know who Paul was.

“I lived in Iran and I hated magic. I signed the contract without knowing what he did.

“I thought he was probably a comedian. Look what happened to me!”

In October 1991, Debbie became the first female member of The Magic Circle, a society for British professional magicians.

When asked if the members exchanged tips and tricks, she agreed and said magic was what brought Paul out of his shell.

She continued: “What’s wonderful, and what I love about the magic circle is, everyone thinks it’s all the big professionals and it really isn’t, it’s a bit like Hogwarts.

“What’s great is, magic is a fantastic hobby and for shy people it’s a great hobby.

“Paul was the most painfully shy boy until he learnt a magic trick when he was on holiday in Yorkshire.

“And then [he] would show it to friends at school and he had something they didn’t have,” she added.

“Lots of magicians I speak to, they say, ‘Oh I was really shy and this brought us out of ourselves’.”

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Debbie’s spouse died after being diagnosed with an incurable brain tumour aged 77, in 2016.

Two years later, she became a contestant on Strictly Come Dancing and danced with professional dancer Giovanni Pernice.

The former finalist credited the show for helping her deal with her grief.

She told Lorraine Kelly: “This is the first time since I lost Paul that I feel genuinely happy.

“I am always giggling and having a good time. Before, there was always this knot in my stomach but the last three weeks on Strictly have been amazing.

“Everyone is so lovely. They make you feel so good and wanted. They make you feel like they really want you on the programme.”

She also told Radio Times: “I really don’t think it could have come at a better time in my life.”

Most recently, Debbie said she is ready to find love again, five years on from Paul’s death.

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