Magicians these days are a far cry from Paul Daniels and Debbie McGee of my era. It’s good to see that some of them still take their craft seriously. Enter David Penn.
My boss has a TV. That’s not his only accolade, but serves as a good introduction to the fact he told me he was half watching Britain Hasn’t Got Talent the other night, when none other than David Penn popped up on the show. I watched the clip and it was a fantastic illusion; he’s an amazing performer, highly entertaining and a cool cat to boot. And I’ve been fortunate enough to meet him.
Through some random network of links and cosmic alignment that I still don’t fully understand, he was recruited as the compère at the filming of the pilot episode of 100 Seconds of Fame — a game show in which I was involved. Though they didn’t choose my theme tune this time round, I still mixed and edited the sound for the programme (my first time with Final Cut Pro on a gorgeous, high-end MacBook Pro, so it was a bit of a learning curve).
As well as helping out on the set, I got to hang around with David, the cast and the crew, which was a good laugh. David’s an intense character, a perfectionist, quick witted and very funny. There’s some video footage of his warm-up act lurking on my hard drive somewhere, which was incredible to watch. In my opinion, a great illusionist is one who can perform the same trick over and over, within three feet of you, and you still can’t figure out how he did it. That’s David Penn, that is. Astounding. He came along to Cannes for the trade show to promote the programme too and performed up-close with the punters.
I still rate 100 Seconds of Fame as a format. David helped in no small part with his charismatic hosting, and I’m disappointed that the TV channels we hawked it to didn’t bite. With some further production polish it could be a fabulously entertaining show.
I’m also most unimpressed with the channel ‘Dave’, the people we approached initially with the game. They said it was a fab idea, but they always played safe and never used unknowns, preferring to wheel out the same old tried and tested comedian faces for their shows. Six months or so later Argumental débuted. Coincidence? I think not.
Anyway, for anyone who’d like to see the game show that I believe inspired Argumental without so much as a bean or nod to its creators (moi? bitter?), the Full show is still available to watch, as are the alternate endings, which are worth seeing; especially Jamie’s tirade which still cracks me up now.