Magician Colin Hooton has always had several things in common with the UK’s most famous magic man, Paul Daniels.
They are both members of the secretive magic circle, they are both 5ft 5in, and they are the same age (75, at the last count).
But earlier this year he found another thing in common with Paul, when the TV star cut his finger off.
The famous magician had to have his finger re-attached by surgeons after he chopped it off on New Year’s Day.
Colin, of Broad Green, Wellingborough, beat Mr Daniels by three decades as he nearly lost his own digit in 1974.
The father-of-two, who has spent 65 years doing tricks, contacted the Evening Telegraph to tell the story of his own near-miss with a guillotine, and looked back at a career that has seen him fly across the world, do a trick for Field Marshal Montgomery, and perform in some glamorous London clubs.
The 75-year-old began dabbling in magic aged just 10.
He said: “I joined the Boys Magicians’ Club, which was advertised in comics, and that was the start of it.
“I performed a trick for Field Marshal Montgomery when I was in the Army, and did a bit of cabaret in London. But my real training came when I was doing the working men’s clubs locally. That’s as good a way as any to practise.”
One of Colin’s most hair-raising moments came when he caused an injury that could have ended his magical career.
He said: “I was practising a finger-chopping guillotine illusion and I nearly severed my own finger. At least I did it to myself – can you imagine if something had gone wrong when I was chopping someone in half.”
Colin ended up in a plaster cast but eventually recovered, going on to continue his career as a magician.
“I’ve never had another accident, thankfully,” he added.
Colin’s children, Andrew and Martyn, are now in their 40s but he spent many happy hours entertaining them when they were younger.
He now shows off his tricks to his two grandchildren, aged six and three.
“They put up with me, I think,” joked Colin. “I suppose they find me fairly amusing. They love to watch me and play around with magic a bit.”
Over the years, Colin says older children have become more cynical.
“Younger children are just the same, they love magic,” he said.
“But older ones are more worldly wise these days and it’s harder to amaze them with a trick.”
Colin still regularly attends weekly Magic Circle meetings in London, and performs locally at children’s parties.
“I still love seeing their faces during the shows,” he said.
His career has seen him do tricks in far flung corners of the world.
He said: “One of the most enjoyable things I did was when I went to Lapland.
“I did the run from London to Lapland when British Airways were running aeroplane trips for children to go and see Father Christmas.
“I had to do tricks on the plane on the way there to keep the children happy. There are not many magicians who have done tricks in mid-air.
“I also went to Bahrain to do a Christmas Day show. I was hired by British American tobacco to do shows for the British and American famililes who were based there.”
Colin said that being a magician is hard work, but is a job that he loves and would encourage other people to get into.
A new generation of ‘event’ magicians have caused some controversy in the Magic Circle. But Colin says that he enjoys them breaking boundaries.
He said: “I love them because they take magic to a new level.
“Anything that promotes the art is positive in my book.”