Say what you want about Paul Daniels but the man is a born entertainer.
Within moments of introducing myself on the phone, the 75-year-old is telling me a random anecdote about his cleaner and doing a slightly unpolitically correct impression of a Chinese lady.
Maybe I shouldn’t be surprised given that Daniels has a long history of uttering somewhat controversial comments (on criminal justice, pornography, the homeless).
But what isn’t in doubt is that this is a man who deserves respect, not least because of the longevity of a career that peaked with a 15-year primetime show on the BBC between 1979 and 1994.
When it was axed by Alan Yentob he saw it as a positive, giving him the free time to travel the world and perform.
Nowadays he’s slowed down slightly but - if you’ll excuse the turn of phrase - not a lot.
Indeed he has just started what he’s calling his Farewell Tour (“though it probably won’t be,” he says, “it depends how long I last and at the moment I feel great”), which calls in at Fleetwood’s Marine Hall this Saturday, October 5.
What can we expect I ask him. “Fun,” he says. “I think what people don’t realise about my live shows is that there is so much comedy.”
His career has lasted 40 years and shows no signs of slowing down ... though he almost stopped it himself last year.
On New Year’s Day 2012, while using a circular saw in his workshop, he sliced off two fingers.
“It was very bad but fortunately the only surgeon at the hospital who hadn’t gone skiing was the chap who helped save Ranulph Fiennes fingers when he got frostbite,” explained Daniels.
“He did a great job on me, though it took me months to relearn how to use my hands and especially to start doing card shuffling tricks again.”
Daniels has a long history with the Fylde coast, coming to see Blackpool’s Illuminations with his parents as a child. Then, after buying a scrapped 1938 Standard car and rebuilding it with his dad (“it had wooden floors, it was beautiful”), he often drove over on day trips from his home in Yorkshire.
He has performed countless times in the resort and claims he was the last big show to play the Opera House.
We speak for half an hour. I occasionally hear Debbie McGee, his wife since the 80s, in the background. “She’s asking for money again,” says Daniels.
He might be an easy target for some but I can see, after just one conversation, why Daniels has had the career he’s had. Opinionated, funny, driven and clever, he’s still going strong and showing no sign of stopping any time soon.
Paul Daniels plays at The Marine Hall, Fleetwood, at 7.30pm on Saturday. Tickets from £14.50 to £16.50.
To book: (01253) 887693 or visit: www.wyretheatres.co.uk