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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Magic names and the media » » UK 2nd August 8:35pm BBC1 (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

Paul Jester
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Secrets of Magic: One-off special in which Nick Knowles invites celebrites to uncover the secrets behind the tricks and illusions of a group of conjurers.

Anyone know who Nick Knowles is? I'll post a review after the show.

...

Pretty nice show, kinda did a trick one way... often an easy to guess or just plain silly method, and then outdid it with a similar, better trick, and showing that the previous method couldn't have been used. They did walking though a mirror with two tunnels (then an audience member walked through), Card to Train window (then they used a shoe), jumping off a 40ft hight (then vanished halfway), ring to baby rattle (then rattle snake), and vanishing 3 coins to a cup (then to a glass). Nice stuff really, shame it's exposure, but they are exposing the $5 tricks, not the stuff you would really feal comfortable using, or if it's big, then they use an obsured method that's exposed.
Paul
Ian Rowland
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I thought 'Secrets of Magic' was hugely enjoyable, and another triumph for the very creative, hard-working and talented team at Objective Productions (the people who make the Derren Brown shows, and 'Monkey Magic' among other hits).

For those who haven't seen it, let me emphasise that there is no actual exposure in this show. The people who have slaved and worked themselves into the ground to make this show happen include Andrew O'Connor, Anthony Owen, Andy Nyman, David Britland and Richard Pinner, all of whom love magic far too much to harm it through exposure. Featured artists include John Lenehan, Danny Buckler and Etienne Pradier - again, hardly names that would associate themselves with exposure harmful to magic.

The format is as follows. First, a magician performs a trick. It's important to appreciate that although some of the tricks borrow from standard themes, in every case the specific plot and specific presentational setting has been devised specially for the show.

A panel of celebs make some guesses as to how the trick was done. The presenter finally narrows it down to four possibilities, and both the celebs and the studio audience get to vote on which explanation they think was the correct one.

The 'correct' explanation is then provided, so everyone can see who was right. I don't want to say too much about the explanations provided, because there are muggles who read this forum. Suffice it to say that AN explantion is given which is fair, consistent with the trick as shown, and consistent with the needs of the show, but which will not damage the interests of anyone who performs magic - either as a hobby or professionally.

As a follow-up, a similar trick is performed which is (a) way better and more mystifying than the first version, and (b) evidently cannot be accomplished using any of the previously-listed possibilities. In others words, the audience are left highly entertained and completely baffled.

The range of magic presented was superb - a stage-filling walk-thru-mirror illusion, some truly beautiful close-up coin magic from Pradier, an outrageous piece of Lenehan 'street magic' down at Waterloo train station, a nice ring-flite and a spectacular, ware-house filling death drop illusion performed by Danny Buckler. In the second (non-revealed) version of the Death Drop, Danny (dressed in black) fell forwards off a 40 ft high stack of packing crates and transformed into a falling rain of black confetti. A beautiful illusion, beautifully realised for television.

I can only shudder to think about the creative work that went into this show. There is nothing easy about devising a workable effect for which a satisfying-enough explanation can be given, albeit not one which has anything to do with real-world performing, and then creating a follow-up which is better and leaves the audience utterly baffled. That Anthony Owen's team managed to create all of the wonderful examples used in this show is a massive tribute to their collective creativity, brainpower, television experience and love of magic.

There will be some debates about the show. Is the degree of exposure harmful? Is it right to present magic as a puzzle to be solved? And so on...

I will leave those debates to those with nothing better to do than pursue them. I thought it was a compelling triumph of magical television, and I hope there will be more to come. Well done all round.
www.ianrowland.com . Working Magic.
DaveS
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Ian, many thanks for posting your review on this show... it's my impression that U.K. broadcasters present a wider variety and quantity of magic than do U.S.A. broadcasters... is the public's interest in magic greater in the U.K?

I often wish there was an outlet in the U.S.A. that would import shows like this and Derren Brown's (sighhhhh....)

P.S. Enjoy your trip "down under!"

Regards,
DaveS
We shall not cease from exploration/And the end of all our exploring/Will be to arrive where we started/And know the place for the first time. (TS Elliot)
maylor
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I never saw this show but I did read some reviews in the papers, and some of them rated the show as lame.

Was it actually any good? I mean for entertainment value for ALL and not just for magicians pleased to see some magic on the television.

What do you guys think?
Ross W
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Yes - of course it was good! Certain elements didn't quite come off (the celebrity panel seemed a bit pointless, though you can see what they were aiming at. Perhaps better celebs is the key.)

It was original, funny, baffling and stylish.

DaveS - we don't have more magic on telly than in the US. Until recently it was quite the reverse, but TV magic is going through something of a resurgence here and the good thing is that much of the "new" magic is presented in new orginal ways. Much of the thanks for a revival in TV magic, though, must go to David Blaine - an American who discovered a new way of doing magic on TV...
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Jon Allen
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I've never got the hang of the quote/unquote method of cutting and pasting. Hopefully the following will make sense!

Quote:
On 2003-08-03 10:02, Ian Rowland wrote:

For those who haven't seen it, let me emphasise that there is no actual exposure in this show.


Ian, you must have missed whole chunks of the programme. At the very beginning, a production cabinet was filmed from a birdseye view, exposing the production of the presenter from within the box. This method is used a lot for corporate events to introduce someone.

Later on, other methods were exposed. Twins, "magician in disguise", special coins, confederates, fake tables & "switching out the magician" That's an awful lot of exposure!



Quote:
Suffice it to say that AN explantion is given which is fair, consistent with the trick as shown, and consistent with the needs of the show, but which will not damage the interests of anyone who performs magic - either as a hobby or professionally.


If it is a plausible method, and one that everyone is happy to say, "Yep, that's how it was done" then how does that make it okay? Audiences don't know if it's the right method or not.

To say it will not affect anyone who performs magic as a hobby or professionally seems a bit naive. Ask someone who has been booked to produce the MD at a corporate gig and gets shouts of "Open the back door first!" or "We know he's behind the doors!" whtehr it affects them. There were plenty of other things exposed that affect magicians. Ask Any number of Illusionists if "Switching the magician" was okay to expose. I think Tommy Wonder will be interested in the Ring to Rattle in regard to the Nest of Boxes effect he has in his book.

Quote:
As a follow-up, a similar trick is performed which is (a) way better and more mystifying than the first version, and (b) evidently cannot be accomplished using any of the previously-listed possibilities. In others words, the audience are left highly entertained and completely baffled.


You are right. In one or two cases, the follow-up was a "similar" trick. Walking through the mirror being an example. In most of the effects, the follow-up was nothing like the original effect. Ring into rattle is different to ring on rattle snake. Landing on the floor after a 40 foot drop is different to vanishing halfway down.

Whether the follow-up effect was the same or not, methods were still exposed.

Quote:
There is nothing easy about devising a workable effect for which a satisfying-enough explanation can be given, albeit not one which has anything to do with real-world performing, and then creating a follow-up which is better and leaves the audience utterly baffled.


The name of the programme was "Secrets of Magic". This alone tells the audience that was is revealed are the secrets of magic i.e. the methods. The methods exposed had everything to do with real world performing! Magicians work in a variety of areas. If you do close-up, stand-up, street or illusions, something in the show was treading on your toes. I noticed that the makers of Derren Brown's show didn't do any expose any mentalism.

Paul Wrote:

"Pretty nice show, kinda did a trick one way... often an easy to guess or just plain silly method, and then outdid it with a similar, better trick, and showing that the previous method couldn't have been used. "


As a magician, you are in a position to know if the method was the actual one or a "silly" one. The audience don't have that luxury. If you told someone the method for Ringflite it sounds ludicrous. No more ludicrous than any of the methods exposed in SOM. Also, by doing a different trick as a follow-up, you are in no way saying the original method couldn't have been done. It's obviously another method. Why not stick the shoe under a handkerchief and let people off the street come and feel it.then have it vanish? It's a different trick and therefore has a different method. The Ring to Rattlesnake was not the same trick either. It's laughable to say it shows the original method was bogus because there was no contraption under the table. There was no rattle, no glass and no boxes. I may as well expose Card to Box and then go on to perform Card on Ceiling.

Paul, I have a question for you. You said they did not expose anything you would feel comfortable using, only $5 tricks (a thumb tip costs less than that so it's okay to expose it?). What if a company asked you to make someone appear from inside a cabinet in the middle of a dance floor for a group of people who may or may not have seen the programme. You have to really impress them! Does the show now affect you or not?

Anyone who thinks the show did not expose any magic or was good for magic can't think much of magic. More people think it's oay to expose methods at live shows now because it's been done on TV. Maybe you don't do the tricks or employ the methods (not that it matters) exposed. However, as a magician, you may want to be prepared for more people asking you more questions about how tricks are done and can you tell them how it's done. Shows like SOM show that it's "okay" to explain methods. After all, magic is just a guessing game, right?

A full review of the show from a realistic point of view (by Duncan Trillo) can be seen at http://www.magicweek.co.uk

Oh, by the way, it's apparently been commissioned into a series of six shows. There's going to be a lot more exposure so it's not just a one off that will be forgotten.

On reviewing my post too late, I realised that opening the back door of the cabinet first does not affect the method!!!

Change the shout to "We know! He's behind the doors!"
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Ian Rowland
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To Jon Allen - Jon, I respect the fact that you are a far more experienced professional performer than I am, and I've seen you perform once or twice and I know that your work is of the highest standard (in so far as I'm any judge). For these reasons, your well-written post has given me pause to reconsider my review.

I can readily concede that the issues here may not be as simple as I stated. Perhaps my own admiration for those involved in the show, and for the sheer amount of effort and hard work that goes into making these shows happen, led my review to be more superficial than it could have been. That having been said, I still find it hard to believe that the likes of Owen, Britland, Nyman etc. cannot think through the 'exposure' issue at least as well as you or I, or that they are any less devoted to the magical arts. Nonetheless, you make some good points and pertinent observations, and perhaps there is an opportunity for all concerned - those who made the show, those who liked it and those who hated it - to share our differing perspectives so that we can all learn from each other's views.

I understand from private correspondence that there have been 'ructions' within the Circle arising from the show, and some resignations. I'm not a member, so I wouldn't know the fine details, but this seems a very unfortunate consequence.
www.ianrowland.com . Working Magic.
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