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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Magic names and the media » » 50 Greatest Magic tricks on Channel 4 (U.K.) » » TOPIC IS LOCKED (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

Billy Andrew
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This seems to be the best place to post this and since magic is not prevelant on British TV it's worth letting everybody know.

Tonight (Mon 6th) Channel 4 will be broadcasting the 50 greatest magic tricks from 21:00.

Hope that those that are interested get a chance to see it.

Billy
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Peter Marucci
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Billy,
Since a lot of us aren't in the UK, let us know how it went, what they were, etc.
In other words, your own review of the show right here.
Looking forward to it.
cheers,
Peter Marucci
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karmic
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Just watched the show..... not sure how the Balducci levitation was second in the top 50 tricks!!! Smile
Daniel Meadows
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Just finished watching the show. I took notes on it for the guys that couldn't watch it. I won't do a full review except to mention the highlights for me (because billy got the scoop first).

The tricks were voted for by the Magic Circle.

Top ten:

10 The Morretti's "Crossbow"- a blind-folded Hans shoots an apple off the assistants head while facing the other way.

9 Richard Ross "Linking Rings" - a smooth and elegant display of a classic.

8 Paul Daniels "Chop Cup" - the double-loading classic.

7 Tom Mullica "Cigarette Act" - It was the first time I saw it and my god was I impressed.

6 David Copperfield "Flying" - Breathtaking special effect.

5 Robert Harbin "Zig-zag lady" - the original.

4 Lance Burton "Doves" - a great display of how it should look.

3 Pendragons "Metamorphosis" - the amazing effect that is world-renowned.

2 David Blaine "Levitation" - Sparked off one h*** of a debate on the camera-trickery front but was popular with the lay-people.

1 Copperfield "Death Saw" - Wow. Cut and restored Copperfield by a huge saw.

I thought on the whole it portrayed magic in a good light, it had the chance to expose things but didn't, seeking instead to ridicule the masked magician for one part.

The three things I really enjoyed that were outside the top ten were:

Lance Burton's "Osmosis" - He walked into a woman holding a cloak and ended up on a chandelier.

Juan Tamariz's "4 Blue Cards" - an acquired taste but a lot of magic from "4 cards".

And

Simon Drake's "sword's through body" - he got a sword and pushed it through his stomach, then did it again and again, and again.

On the whole I think it was beneficial for the magic world as there was a lot of excellent magic shown. If anyone is actually interested in all 50 then I wrote most of them down and I can send it to you.
Cerberus Wallet, Equilibrium, Counterfeit, Deadly Marked Deck, Infamous, Instinct
karmic
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got to agree with you Neil definitely beneficial for magic..... as an ex full time magician just re-starting my career it couldn't come at a better time... sparking more interest in the U.K for magic Smile
Ian Rowland
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The Complete List:

50. Franz Harary, Vanishing Space Shuttle (1994)
49. Juan Tamariz, Four Blue Cards (1996)
48. Shahid + Lisa Malik, Sword Box (1991)
47. Guy Hollingworth, The Reformation (1997)
46. Harry Blackstone Jnr., Vanishing Bird Cage (1987)
45. Mark Mottram, Thumb Tie / Sword (2000)
44. Penn & Teller, Truck Trick (1990)
43. Meir Yedid, Fingertip Fantasies (1985)
42. Derren Brown, Subway Hypnosis (2001)
41. Melinda Saxe, Drill of Death (1999)
40. Paul Zenon, Snooker Card Trick (2000)
39. Spoon Bending (Amazing Jonathan, Geller, Rowland)
38. Stevie Starr, Goldfish Regurgitation (1992)
37. Fay Presto, Bottle Thru Table (1996)
36. Lance Burton, Osmosis (1997)
35. Robert Gallup, Straitjacket Escape (2000)
34. James Hydrick, PK Page Turning (1980)
33. Penn & Teller, Cut & Restored Snake (1991)
32. Paul Daniels, Electric Chairs (1989)
31. Great Soprendo (Geoffrey Durham) Torn & Restored Newspaper (1982)
30. David Berglas, Levitating Dancing Table (1981)
29. Amazing Jonathan, The Skewer (2001)
28. Tommy Cooper, Multiplying Bottles (1967)
27. Paul Zenon, Tax Disc (2000)
26. Derren Brown, Art Gellery Prediction (2000)
25. Paul Daniels, Vanishing TV Camera (1984)
24. Amazing Jonathan, Knife Thru Arm (1996)
23. David Berglas, Pulse Stopping (1986)
22. Siegfried & Roy, Interlude (1994)
21. Simon Drake, Swords Illusion (1990)
20. Ishamuddin, Indian Rope Trick (1999)
19. Derren Brown, Blair Witch Illusion (2000)
18. Robert Gallup, Death Dive (1996)
17. Amazing Orchante, Ball of String (1987)
16. Siegfried & Roy, Vanishing / Reappearing Elephant (1994)
15. Simon Drake, Guillotine (1992)
14. Lance Burton, Rollercoaster Escape (1999)
13. Harry Blackstone Jnr., Floating Lightbulb (1977)
12. David Blaine, Card In Window (undated)
11. Penn & Teller, Double Bullet Catch (1996)
10. Hans Moretti, Crossbow (1995)
9. Richard Ross, Linking Rings (1983)
8. Paul Daniels, Chop Cup (1985)
7. Tom Mullica, Cigarette Eating (1996)
6. David Copperfield, Flying (1995)
5. Robert Harbin, Zig-Zag Girl (1965)
4. Lance Burton, Doves (1982)
3. The Pendragons, Metamorphosis (undated)
2. David Blaine, Balducci Levitation (undated)
1. David Copperfield, Death Saw (1995)
www.ianrowland.com . Working Magic.
Ian Rowland
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And my review...

“The Fifty Greatest Magic Tricks”, produced by Objective Productions for Channel 4 Television (UK). First broadcast 6th May, 2002.

There was a great deal to enjoy in this compilation of superlative magical excellence, and the show was a great and golden credit to it's makers. The magical content was almost uniformly superb, and all but the most obsessive magic fans will have seen items they hadn’t seen before.

In some respects, the show’s excellence is understandable. It was produced by the Objective Productions team, who also produce the Derren Brown TV specials and the award-winning Quick Trick show (aimed at children but with much to offer magic fans of any age). Given that, this team involves people like Andrew O’Connor, Anthony Owen and Marc Paul (as a consultant), there can be no question of their commitment to bringing the very best of magic to the TV audience. It would be impossible to overstate the amount of time, sweat, love and devotion that was obviously lavished on this project - choosing the items (with help from a Magic Circle poll), obtaining the footage, conducting interviews in the UK and in the US, and then editing all the pieces into a 2 hour package. O’Connor and his hard-working team are deserving of the highest praise for their endeavours (and I’m not just saying this because they took the aberrant decision to include me in it somewhere).

Regrettably, this devoted, talented and magic-loving production team have to work within the asinine constraints of the contemporary UK TV industry. Hence this treasury of magical delights had to be contaminated with dismal interruptions from so-called ‘comedians’ with no knowledge of the subject, nothing to say, and nothing to contribute. I can understand the inclusion of intelligent entertainers such as Jeremy Dyson and Reece Shearmsith, who have a genuine interest in magic and, as such, had something to offer. However, it is greatly to be regretted that the show had to be littered with asinine and ignorant comments from the likes of Jenny Eclair (one of the least amusing people ever to draw breath), Donna McPhail and others who evidently had nothing to say worth the saying. Shown footage of the wonderful Pendragons, and their stunning version of ‘Metamorphosis’, Ms. Eclair could only muster comments about Charlotte Pendragon which were base, tasteless and offensively insulting.

The show was hosted by ‘Adam and Joe’, a dismal pair of so-called ‘comedians’ opening and closing each segment with supposedly
‘funny’ sketches. Their contributions were an unmitigated disaster of wretchedly witless time-wasting imbecility. Supercilious TV suits are prone to trot out the all-purpose excuse that ‘humour is subjective’. That may be so, but crass and unfunny stupidity is not – it is plain as a pikestaff and a waste of everyone’s time. With regard to this feeble pair’s linking
‘sketches’, the regrettable inability of anyone involved to exercise one iota of quality control seriously dented the show’s appeal. I’ve no idea how much Adam and Joe got paid, but it was too much.

The presence of these allegedly comic ignoramuses would have mattered less if time had not been so precious. The 2 hour show included the mandatory 18 minutes of commercials and trailers, and 8 ½ minutes of Adam and Joe. Guy Hollingworth’s beautiful, elegant performance of The Reformation was awarded less than a minute, and suffered by severely uncharitable editing. Richard Ross performing the Linking Rings, one of the most captivating and artistic sights in magic, was only worth 40 seconds. Penn & Teller’s double bullet catch was so truncated as to be rendered virtually impossible to follow. There were many similarly frustrating instances of delightful material being suffocated to make way for the ‘funny’ links. I do not blame O’Connor or any of his brilliant and diligent team. They just have to play the system, and appease the Channel 4 marketing department. But it’s no less a shame for all that.

What of the Top 50 itself? Naturally, there can never be a definitive ‘Top 50’ list of tricks, and the controversy is part of the fun. In any case, the show would more fairly have been titled ‘The Fifty Greatest Magic Tricks of which there is some video tape we could get the rights to, missing out the ones which are good but just don’t work on TV’.

Nonetheless, some decisions furrow the brow more than others – how can you end up with three slots for the Amazing Jonathan (twice doing nothing more than demonstrating a prop) and none for, say, Fred Kaps? Why the noticeable bias in favour of large stage/TV illusions, many of which we know can be summed up as ‘watch what this piece of apparatus can do’, and so little of the world’s best close-up magic? Not only do many laymen admire the skill and artistry of good close-up more than ‘big box tricks’, but television is the one medium which can showcase skilled close-up to best advantage. When a show can find room for James Hydrick, who barely qualifies as a magician at all, but not for the conspicuous excellence of Ricky Jay, Channing Pollock, Rene Lavand, Dai Vernon, Slydini, Falkenstein & Willard, Steve Forte and (insert your own hero’s name here), one can only wonder what factors were at work. Blame the Magic Circle voters? Blame the producers? We will never know.
www.ianrowland.com . Working Magic.
Paul
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Well said Ian. Great review. That is the review I would have written if I'd more time!
:lol:

As a show, I preferred Fisher's Heroes of Magic. But even that could have had less interuption/comment.

Perhaps next we can have a show, "The World's Best Close up Magic"
(title copyright Paul Hallas 2002) Smile Smile
Daniel Meadows
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Great review. I can now complete my list of the ones I missed. Your interview segment on the Gellerism topic was quite interesting.
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Paul S
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Good review. I hit stop on the video in disgust when no. 50 was 'vanishing space shuttle' - I was thinking 'I hope this isn't all going to be big illusions'. Fortunately I was paying attention and hit record again because no. 49 was Juan Tamariz. Then I just left the video alone, because I didn't want to miss some good magic because of my frustration with some of the entries.

Sure, I can accept that a big illusion can be remarkable theatre, and often involve a great deal of skill too... but vanishing space shuttles, Statue of Liberty, stealth bombers, what have you, is just total nonsense.

I mean who really cares if the camera never cuts away? How would you ever know anyway? I'm pretty sure that most people realise that these feats can be accomplished by anybody with a large buget and that there is little in the way of skill apart from a bit of presentation.

I'd much rather watch Jerry Sadowitz turn 10p into 2p than see somebody/something levitate on a smoky stage with cheesey music and flashing lights. Also I would dissagree that the Balducci made it to number 2. That wasn't a Balducci levitation, that was a man suspended by wires. Granted, the reaction shots may well have been for a performance of the Balducci. But we don't know for sure do we? Might have been zero gravity. Doesn't really matter though.

Bit cheeky to have 'street levitation' at number two when what you actually see on the screen is the result of editing.

Anyway, that's the kind of show it was. One moment a space shuttle is 'dissapearing' and the next, a Juan Tamariz is counting cards which keep changing.

One moment Guy Hollingworth is restoring a couple of quarters of signed playing card, the next we are (courtesy of those brilliantly hard working editors *sarcasm*) listening to somebody tell us how amazing it is to see Guy perform this routine of his. Cut back to the final restoration sequence.

Seems that the people who edit these shows think that the viewer needs to be kept interested by disjointed sequences, and perhaps they are right to a degree. Perhaps they just like to do plenty of editing and feel that if a shot lingers for more than 30 seconds then they are not doing their job properly. Whatever.

They know @*%! all about the presentation of magic though, and it makes me mad.

Having said all that, magic on the telly is a fine thing. Sorry about the rant there, got a bit carried away.

Paul S
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Don't apologise for the rant. In fact, thanks for ranting, it saved me doing it.

But there were quite a few gems amongst the rubbish, I thought. Shame that there was so much rubbish amongst the gems, though.

Dave
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Paul S
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Thanks Dave.

Yep, overall it was a great show. I even enjoyed some of the big illusions. I liked some of the comments too, I'd just rather they didn't interupt a close up performance.

One comment which made me laugh was after Lance Burton's Rollercoaster stunt. As most of you know, having nearly killed himself for our entertainment, Lance is seen to be shaking his head and muttering to himself 'that was stupid...that was really stupid'. Then we have an interviewee in a studio saying, 'actually, I thought it was pretty stupid beforehand as well'. Fairly astute comment, no? Lots of Adam & Joe's humour was kind of flat, but I did like the 'magic of lying' sketch with a zombie ball. The masked magician style cod-exposure of pulling 50pence from behind somebody's ear was just harmless aimiable nonsense. It is good to see that masked fool made fun of, and I rather like nonsense explanations of how effects are accomplished.

Paul S
RangeCowboy
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Dear Mr Rowland,
I would think it an excellent idea for you to send your review verbatim as a letter to the TV Times and the Radio Times and any other publication you can. On behalf of all of us we undoubtedly will back you up so why not sign it as

Yours Sincerely
Ian Rowland and 1000 International Magicians

Regards
RangeCowboy
S.o.S.C.H.[Sick of Stupid Comedian Hosts]
Paul
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Ha ha, that's not a bad idea, Range Cowboy.
Lost of edits and fast cuts as a technique is I think, starting to be rather dated, but in this case totally inappropriate and often butchered the material that was supposedly what the show was all about.

There are still a lot of us out here that have an attention span of more than 20 seconds.

Maybe those comedians financed the show so they could get on TV? Smile

Paul Hallas.
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The show was hosted by ‘Adam and Joe’, a dismal pair of so-called ‘comedians’ opening and closing each segment with supposedly ‘funny’ sketches. Their contributions were an unmitigated disaster of wretchedly witless time-wasting imbecility. Supercilious TV suits are prone to trot out the all-purpose excuse that ‘humour is subjective’. That may be so, but crass and unfunny stupidity is not – it is plain as a pikestaff and a waste of everyone’s time. With regard to this feeble pair’s linking
‘sketches’, the regrettable inability of anyone involved to exercise one iota of quality control seriously dented the show’s appeal. I’ve no idea how much Adam and Joe got paid, but it was too much.


Hi Ian,
I spoke to several people (non magicians)
that thought these comediens where great and one of the best parts of the show.
I must admit I found them amusing myself too.
phillip
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For what it's worth, I agree with every word Ian has written. As for ".... these comediens (Adam and Joe) where great and one of the best parts of the show..." it's a sad reflection on the state of British UK comedy.
Manipulix
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Great reviews.

Manipulix
What is life without a little bit of magic?
Missing_Link
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It was a good show - Adam and Joe would've been funny if they appeared for, oh lets say, 30 seconds rather than polluting the whole show.

And the current tv penchant for
"interviewing" comedians and self-important journalists is now very dull. I mean, who cares what Jenny Eclair thinks? A few more interviews with the magicians would've been better.

One other thing - what was with the hair? Were the '80s that bad? Mind you, looking at an old photo of me, I see that my syrup was a bit sinister back then!

ML
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It sounds like it was a great television show. I wish they would show more things like that here in the United States. We lack in the magic department when it comes to television. Maybe 2 or 3 specials a year. Ugh! Oh well... At least I have a magic shop to buy old tapes from. Smile
NickOShea
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Strange- In the UK many people are under the impression that the US gets more magic on TV than us. Besides the once in a blue moon occasion such as this or a new Derren Brown show we normally have to put up with endless repeats of David Blaine on a hidden away cable channel. This week the highlight of the week was the Diagnosis Murder special with the Masked Magician...

Which wasn't too bad really!
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