02 Aug 2013
Not really liking Justin Lee Collins when I have seen him before as I felt he was poking fun at the object of his programme, I started to watch the programme with some trepidation. However, I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised with him and the show.
The basis of the show was that Justin Lee Collins wanted to perform in a magic competition in Ohio, America. He wanted to perform Metamorphosis (or as it is probably better known, The Sub Trunk Illusion). We were shown The Pendragons performing this at the lightning speed they did it. There was also old film of magicians such as Paul Daniels performing the Electric Chairs routine and Hans Moretti with his crossbow illusion. Justin went to see Scott Penrose at the Magic Circle, who showed him some small tricks which Justin was not enamoured with. Pete Firman at Alakazam Magic sold him £236 worth of goods which Justin thought were useless and not fitted to him as they were too fiddly. Jonathan Goodwin showed him the sub trunk and how to get out of handcuffs (unfortunately Justin was also claustrophobic, which hardly helped!). Eventually he ended up with Richard Cadell, former magician, but now running Brean Leisure Park.
Luckily for Justin, Richard still had the illusions he had used stored in a building behind the Ghost Train! Richard showed Justin several illusions, and luckily had a lady assistant who could be part of Justin’s act – now known as Justin Illusion and Panache. With 2 weeks to go, there was not much time to practice. Those of you who know the size and shape of Justin Lee Collins will know that he is hardly the right physique for the Sub Trunk, and so it proved during the rehearsals which were shown.
The action moved to the hotel in Ohio where the convention was being held. He was shown visiting the lectures and meeting the dealers – who sold their props from their hotel rooms, not something I have come across in this country. At this point I realised that I had not heard of any of the magicians we were introduced to, and noted that they were almost all middle aged men. Eventually the competition started and we saw Justin come on and flashes appeared form his hands. He had flames in a cage which he covered; when the cover was pulled back, Panache was found inside. The Shadow Box followed (with again the girl assistant doing most of the work); before the finale of the Sub Trunk, which they did very well. The final pyrotechnic refused to work to start with, but tugging by Justin got the final bang to end their act. Justin Illusion and Panache got third place in the stage section (there was also a close-up competition).
The show ended with Justin returning to Brean Leisure Park and doing his act, for one night only, for the visiting lay audience; receiving good reviews from Richard Cadell.
I had imagined that the show would, once again, give away magic secrets, but this did not happen. All the magicians who helped along the way stressed that they would only get involved if no secrets were revealed and, to be fair to Justin Lee Collins, he did say at the end that he would never reveal how they were done. However, the competition did not look to be a major competition as the acts that were shown were doing standard type effects. And, as I mentioned above, I had never heard of any of the names, and quite a few were mentioned. But that being said, well done to him for putting on such a good act in such a short space of time and neither mocking magic or revealing secrets.
If you see it repeated (it was Channel 4), then it is well worth watching.