Q&A: 'Proposing to Steph was just magic'
Magician Danny Hunt has come a long way since he staged his first show aged just 14 at Butterknowle Village Hall to raise funds for the martial arts club of which he was a member. In addition to his own shows, he has worked as a consultant on a number of hit television programmes, including Sherlock Holmes. Mr Hunt and partner Steph Clarke – who he has sawn in half countless times – perform as Amethyst Magic.
What drew you to magic and how did you get into it?
When I was five or six years old I was given a Paul Daniels magic set as a gift. I still have it to this day. I remember standing in my front room doing magic shows for my family. My mum would also teach me magic tricks from the ladybird book of magic which she had from when she was a child.
Which magicians have inspired you?
Growing up, Paul Daniels was a huge influence for me as I would watch him on TV on a Saturday night. As I got older the American magician Doug Henning and master illusionist David Copperfield were huge influences – I always wanted to perform magic like they did.
Do you have any favourite tricks that you like to perform?
I have lots of favourite illusions that we get to perform in our show, as well as some smaller pieces of magic that I love. But my favourite illusion has to be, when myself and Steph make a full size helicopter appear on the stage. I always love to hear the audience’s reaction to this illusion.
How hard is it to come up with new illusions – and if you do, how long does it take to master a new trick?
We can often spend months or even years working on new illusions or routines for the show.
Sometimes we search through old magic history books and modernise or recreate illusions from the past – sometimes they are that old they are almost new again.
Other times we may have an idea for an illusion but it can take us month to find the right music and style we would like to use to perform the illusion.
Once we have an idea we go to our illusion builders who construct a prototype. We then spend our time developing the illusion into the finished product. We are always constantly tweaking and changing our show so an illusion or trick is never actually finished.
Have you ever had an epic fail during a performance, and if so, can you describe it?
Now that would be telling! As well as performing our magic and illusion show, we perform a stunt and escapology show.
These performances can be extremely dangerous. I once impaled my arm on spikes that where about to fall on me during an escape – this resulted in a trip to hospital.
But my partner Steph has the rough end of the deal as she is the one having knives thrown at her or being sawn in half.
Tell us about some of the work you have done for television?
Lots of our work for TV is consulting, creating magic illusions or coming up with a strange happening. We have had the pleasure to work on some of the country’s best award winning shows.
If anyone happens to be a fan of BBC’s Sherlock or ITV’s Houdini and Doyle you can see our work throughout the episodes.
We have also worked on the BAFTA award winning Help. My Supply Teacher is Magic for CBBC. This was very exciting as we created a lot of magic for this show.
This was a great show to work on as it was an undercover magic show, meaning nobody could know when the magic was going to happen as it had to be a surprise. All of our props and illusions had to be disguised to fit into a classroom, whilst still having a shock magical ending.
Another TV show we worked on was called The Happening and we had to create the impression a town was haunted using our magical techniques. In one episode we even had to make it look like a alien UFO had landed in a corn field.
One of favourite TV shows was Up Late with Rylan for Channel 5. Every week myself and Steph would create a death defying stunt for Rylan Clark-Neal to take part in.
He was brilliant to work with and an absolute gentleman.
You became engaged to your show partner Steph on Christmas Eve after a live performance. What happened?
We were performing at the beautiful pavilion theatre in Cromer. A venue that we have both always wanted to work in. The show started on December 2 last year back when social distancing rules where in tiers. As Cromer was only tier 2, it meant the show could go ahead and it was one of the country’s first socially distanced shows to return. Unfortunately this was only for a few weeks as we had to close on Christmas Eve.
It was possibly one of the most nerve racking experiences of my life. We came to the end of the show and during the finale with the rest of the cast the host announced that I would like to say a few words, which was a complete surprise to Steph as I wouldn’t normally say anything at the end of the show. Myself and Steph walked to the front of the stage and I asked her to marry me. Luckily she said yes and it was a wonderful ending to the run of the show.
How have you kept busy during the Covid-19 lockdown and how has it affected your business?
Covid- 19 had been extremely hard on the entertainment industry with hundreds and thousands of performers around the world losing their work and livelihoods, literally overnight. For many in the entertainment industry it is not just a job, it is a way of life.
We have adapted by creating a new virtual online magic show called The Secret, which takes place on the Zoom platform.
These shows have been incredibly popular for birthdays, celebration, and corporate events. The shows include breathtaking magic, mind blowing mentalism and interactive magic tricks people can join in with at home. If anyone work like anymore information they can visit www. amethystmagic.com or find Amethyst Magic on Facebook.
You recently returned to live in Teesdale. What is it about the dale that drew you back?
I left home when I was 16 to go and be a magician. I had some wonderful opportunities to work with some of my heroes in the world of entertainment, people like Freddie Star, Bradley Walsh and Sir Ken Dodd and have travelled all over the world.
But no matter where I am In the world I have always classed the area as my home. It’s been wonderful being back and seeing lots of old friend and familiar faces.