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Robbie Williams Changed My Career: And Other Things I Never Thought I’d Say: Age 20

“I’ve got 2 free tickets to see Robbie Williams in Manchester tonight, if anyone is interested?” asked Pete, my film tutor in college. Now, I’ve never really been a Robbie Williams fan - he wasn’t something I’d actively avoid, like rabies or cucumbers - but he was just never my cup of tea. Having said that… free tickets to a concert, you say?! That seemed like something I couldn’t refuse. So, my friend Jack and I took him up on the offer; we got an early dart from college and set off to the Etihad Stadium. ‘Maybe the support act will be good?’ I offered to Jack, who seemed dubious. He just fancied getting off college early and was less of a Robbie fan than I was. Neither of us were entirely sure why we’d agreed to come, but you know, free.

We made our way into the stadium, bought the obligatory £8 pint and found our position; surrounded by thousands of adoring middle-aged women. They adored Robbie Williams of course, having no idea I’d be there.

Suddenly, the music hit. There was a palpable excitement in the stadium that was difficult not to get swept along with. Descending from the skies, cameras projected the household name as he zip-wired down to the stage with a trail of red smoke behind him. I watched on, absolutely in awe. 50,000 people were there that night to see this one man and he was incredible. The biggest personality in the room, bursting with confidence and an absolute showman. The arrogance, the bravado; genuinely compelling shtick and I completely got it.

I arrived to the gig expecting to hate it. 5 minutes in I was singing and whooping with the best of them. I’d gone this this gig completely nonchalant and apropos of nothing, and came away genuinely, surprisingly inspired. In total wonderment. I never could have predicted it would have such a tremendous impact, but it really did. It wasn’t just a show, it was an event, and we were all part of it.

It’s safe to say that it reenergised me completely - changing my entire outlook on how I was going to progress forward. I’d become somewhat subdued with close-up magic and wasn’t sure where to go. This was it. Performing on stage and making people feel excited to be there. Not just being a ‘table-slave’ performing some close-up magic to drunk, unappreciative tables at corporate events - but doing shows. Proper shows with music and lights. I was excited about what would be possible and genuinely couldn’t wait to start working on it. The whole thing happened by complete chance and kick-started everything that was to come.

The show ended and we made our way back to the car, completely taken aback by the previous few hours. We drove back to Liverpool, buzzing with enthusiasm. I put Angels on Spotify. Robbie Williams is brilliant, I thought.

Lower Your Trousers Please, Mr. Williams: Age 21

Blimey. Right, well, I don’t think any of us expected to hear that today. I’ve just, rather excitingly, got on board my first ever cruise ship. We’re heading off to the Canary Islands from Liverpool and for the next month, this is going to be my home. I’m doing two shows a night, once a week and the rest of the time is my own – amazing, I think.

Being a magician in the North West, the fact that this cruise was sailing from a port on Liverpool’s dock couldn’t have been more ideal. So, I jumped on board and started to settle in.

A few hours passed and I was unpacked. I was excited. I was incredibly sea-sick. I won’t get into specifics, but it wasn’t my most flattering of moments. I performed at a wedding on a boat once but other than that I’d never spent any time on water, so I really hadn’t considered this.

I picked up the cabin phone and dialled reception.

‘Hello,’ I said tentatively. ‘This is probably nothing, but I’ve got a bit of sea-sickness and…’

‘Do not leave your cabin, sir. A nurse will be with you shortly,’ the suddenly very stern voice commanded from the other side.

So, I waited, anxiously. I considered putting the kettle on, to try and act nonchalant about the whole thing and give the impression that it was nothing. I didn’t.

I heard a knock at the door and welcomed the nurse in. She didn’t seem one for chit chat and almost certainly would have refused a cup of tea, so I was proud of my earlier decision about the kettle.

She looked at me seriously and said, “Lay down on the bed and lower your trousers please, Mr. Williams.

I’m going to inject you with something to stop the motion sickness, but you’re going to be placed into quarantine – so please don’t leave the cabin for the next 2 days.”

I was taken aback. 2 days! 2 entire days stuck alone in the cabin. Having sailed away from the coast, I had no internet, no phone connection and I’d completely forgotten to bring any books! All I had was one film on my computer. The countdown to freedom began…

What was supposed to be the start of an exciting new escapade, an exciting new adventure, actually began with me locked in a cabin and watching Mrs. Doubtfire for the third time, in my pants. Being in my pants definitely wasn’t related to the fact that I was also watching Robin Williams dressed as a comical fat lady, of course.

It was mid-afternoon on day 2 when suddenly, the phone rang.

‘Mr Williams,’ said a low voice on other other end. ‘Since you’re showing no further symptoms, you can leave your cabin at 8am tomorrow morning.’

‘8am?!’ I questioned whilst raising my eyebrows – which was an unusual thing to do considering I was on the phone.

It appears they allow a little extra time to ensure everything is fine.

Early the following morning, my alarm sounded and I jumped out of bed. After what felt like a lifetime, I was a free man; free! I looked out my cabin window at the gentle waves and glorious sunshine. Brilliant! I’m a free man (I haven’t mentioned that yet, have I?) and the sun is shining! I’m going to spend today by the pool, I think.

Revelling in my new found freedom, I fled out of my cabin, making my way towards the not-at-all-Roman piscina.

Wanting to make up for the lost time, I swam a few lengths, drank a Margarita (well, a Diet Coke with no ice, but that doesn’t sound quite as good), grabbed a sun-lounger and closed my eyes to catch a few rays…

“You’ve cracked it, Williams!” I thought to myself.

I woke up a couple of hours later and decided to jump in the shower and get dressed for the evening’s meal. It was then that I realised what had happened.

Finding myself back in the cabin, I looked in the mirror, aghast: I was glowing with sunburn. I had a face like a giant tomato with a quiff. What am I going to do, I thought!

I was so embarrassed that you could say I was red in the face.

I couldn’t let anyone see me like this – I looked ridiculous! In my mind, there was really only one answer; I had to let this settle!

Right, I’m not leaving this cabin for the next 48 hours, I think.

Head in the Clouds: Becoming a Helicopter Pilot: Age 17

“Right then lads,” I said to my mates, Paul and Ryan over a curry, “I’m going to learn to be a helicopter pilot.” They both looked at me sceptically. “I’m starting in October and will be gone for quite a few months while I learn.” There was a moment of silence before I noticed a single tear trickle down Ryan’s face. Turns out he’d just eaten a particularly hot jalapeño.

If you’ve never been in a helicopter, you absolutely should do it; really, it’s brilliant. Properly brilliant. Groupon it, if that’s still a thing. Just don't go thinking about taking lessons as well - otherwise you might end up finding yourself in West Palm Beach, and living in a house with a 25-year-old Hungarian called Kristof, and I don't want that happening to both of us.

It all came about when I’d been at a wedding a few weeks earlier. It was a swanky affair and I’d been asked to perform some close-up magic in the gardens whilst the photographs were being taken. It was all very typical until a tremendous noise was heard above. Suddenly, the 200 or so people stopped and looked up at the sky. A helicopter was flying down and into the grounds, and it literally made the entire collective stop and watch. “Here comes the DJ,” I quipped to the guy standing next to me… he didn't laugh.

It was amazing. ’What am I doing, stood here on terra firma with these commoners,’ I thought, ‘when I could be flying a helicopter!?’ I knew, instantly, that I was going to learn how to fly and felt drunk with power by the very thought of it. Then I walked off and carried on doing card tricks.

Back at home that night I jumped on the computer, paid £150 and booked a test flight for the following day. I’m not really sure why - it was a bit impulsive I suppose, but it just seemed like it would be fun. I’ll arrive to all of my events by helicopter in future, I thought - not considering that it might not be the most practical thing to do when I’m performing at a Christening in the local social club.

The following day I went to the training school in Liverpool and jumped in the helicopter. It might have been a bit soon to have sat in the pilot’s seat, but I think he knew I meant business. Swapping seats, we set to the sky for the next 20 minutes or so and I loved it! It was honestly amazing and a completely different experience to anything I’d ever done before.

I spoke with the school to find out how much getting a license would cost, and after some minimal research I realised it would work out cheaper to do it abroad. Result! I’ll learn to do it in America, I thought – I’ll get a holiday at the same time and save some money. I took the rest of the day off, pleased with my own cunning.

Within 72 hours of having watched a helicopter land for a minute and taking a short helicopter trip over Liverpool, I set the wheels in motion and arranged to spend a small fortune and get my private pilots license in West Palm Beach, Florida. I’d sorted it all out with Ocean Helicopter School, who I’d be going to about 3 months later, giving me enough time to arrange my Visa and get my fingerprints and medical done, etc.

Why I didn’t consider taking at least one more flight in the UK first, or begin learning some of the theory is beyond me - but I didn’t have time for any of that tomfoolery, I thought. I laughed in the face of theory. I was going rogue. A helicopter maverick.

Visa now in place, I had a surprise going-away party with family and friends and set off for Florida. I was tremendously excited, buzzing with the idea of exploring aviation and conquering the skies. That was, of course, until the final internal flight I was on became hit by the worst turbulence I, or any of the crew on board, had ever experienced.

People throughout the plane were screaming and crying. I, having travelled on my own and without any other real option, picked up the SkyMall magazine and started perusing the wares. Whilst others were looking into their family members’ and loved ones’ eyes for what could have been the final time; I was reading the description for one of those things you plug into the wall to keep flies out of your kitchen.

All was, as you can probably guess, fine - although it wasn’t a great introduction to my time learning about aviation.

Exhausted, I finally arrived at West Palm Beach Airport and was driven to the house I’d be staying in with my new housemate; the aforementioned 25-year-old Hungarian, Kristof. The house was owned by the helicopter school, and was, as they say, an utter shithole. But still, I was here to become a pilot - most of my time would be spent soaring the skies, wouldn’t it? The only thing I’d be doing here is sleeping and practicing that song that Tom Cruise sings in Top Gun. This will be fine, I thought.

The first few weeks were brilliant; a right laugh, and really exciting - but there was just something about it that didn’t seem to be quite what I expected. I don’t know what it was, but I just started questioning what the point was. I realised I didn’t want to become a pilot as a career, and financially it would probably be a disastrous move to be flying to gigs all over the country. I also only realised when I got there that helicopters have little to no boot-space for my props. If only someone had told me that beforehand.

Having my doubts about the whole thing, I spoke to Richie Smith over Skype, who gave me some advice which really made my decision for me. He said that I’d have to look at this venture like climbing a mountain. The last thing I’d want to do is reach the summit, but then realise that, actually, I wanted to be on another mountain.

Right, I’m well aware that seems a bit ‘fortune cookie’ and naff in print, but when he said it, it actually did sound profound, honest.

From that alone, I made the decision to abandon the lessons and continue with what I really loved doing - performing. I booked my flight home for the following week, cancelled my remaining lessons, and spent the next 7 days having a slightly bizarre holiday with my new Hungarian friend.

So, after saying goodbye to everybody at home and having a going-away party before jetting off to Florida, I was back in Liverpool 3 weeks later without the ability to fly a helicopter, or even a tan.

A welcome-home party, anyone?

On the Road with Stephen Mulhern: Age 14

“Hi Stephen!” the email from Stephen Mulhern read, “I’m going on a bit of a tour called ‘Tricky TV LIVE’ and ‘The Stephen Mulhern Show’ and was wondering if you’d like to be a part of it?” I stood there staring at the screen, completely frozen. He wanted me to be a part of his tour?! I re-read the email. Then re-read it again, just to be sure.

Stephen, whom I’d spoken to several times since filming my small role in Tricky TV: Season 2, wanted to add a section with a young magician into his live, touring version of the show - and having seen a video of my classical act online, asked me to do it! I couldn’t believe it. This is incredible, I thought!

It would be running for 6 weeks and he was looking for me to perform 5 minutes of my act in the middle of each show. I was, as you can imagine, beyond excited and agreed to do it almost instantly! But only once I’d finished re-reading the email for the fifth time, of course.

Still unable to drive, my dad and I, along with the doves, made the 250-mile trip down to the bottom of the country for the first day of rehearsals. Stephen, a genuinely, properly nice guy, was there with the show’s production team, musicians and dancers, along with Paul Andrews; the producer and magic director from Tricky TV, who co-wrote and was overlooking the tour.

Now let’s not beat around the bush here: this was huge for me. Massive. Stephen Mulhern was someone who I’d grown up watching. The Quick Trick Show on CiTV was tremendously influential in my formative years, and really, to me, he was a proper celebrity. Someone who I admired and looked up to. To have him introduce me on stage each night and to just generally be around and learn from him was amazing.

He’d wrap the 3,000-strong audience around his little finger each and every night in a way in which I’d never seen anyone be able to do before. The little nuances; the slight differences he’d make between shows to adapt to that audience. He was absolutely in the moment.

It was remarkable to be a part of the show and utterly terrifying in equal measure. Waiting backstage, knowing I had 10 seconds before he'd say my name, were some of the most nerve-wracking and exciting moments of my career up to that point. What if it all went wrong? What would I do if something just didn’t work?

Thankfully, nothing major ever did - but the pressure of it really kept me on my toes. It’s funny how much an act, even one you’ve performed countless times before, changes when you start doing it every night. You’re able to start setting things up more quickly; you realise that just by waiting an extra 2 seconds before making something disappear, for instance, can make an audience go from applauding to gasping. I learnt more on that tour than I can possibly put into words.

The 6 weeks ultimately came to an end, and I look back on it with enormous fondness. Having said that, embarrassingly, I had no idea that thank you gifts were a thing at the end of a tour. Whilst the other cast and crew gave me and each other some lovely, well-thought-out gifts, I found myself having to improvise with the only thing I could find in the car at the last minute…

A Tesco Meal Deal and some chocolate covered raisins, anyone?

Britain’s Got Talent: And How I Nearly Gave Up Magic: Age 12

As I write this, Britain’s Got Talent is about to start its 10th season. I still find it difficult to watch. A couple of my magician friends have been on it in the past few years with huge success, and I typically watch their acts in support… but then immediately turn to something else once they’ve finished.

Although it’s not hugely known, I auditioned for the show once. In fact, it was 10 years ago, when the show was in its very first series. My gimmick, of course, was that I was a 12-year-old from Liverpool, with a broad accent and a slightly ill-fitting suit, performing magic tricks on stage. What’s not to like, right?

I submitted an application online after seeing an advert for the show on TV, and was absolutely delighted to hear back from them to say my application had been successful… along with about 5,000 other people as well, I would imagine. The audition I was invited to was held at the Manchester Apollo theatre a month or two later.

This was remarkably exciting! I would be performing on a proper stage, on a proper TV show, in front of the proper Simon Cowell! This is going to be incredible, I thought. Over the coming weeks I worked on my 3-minute act tirelessly, perfecting each word, each move, to make it Cowell-ready.

The day of the auditions arrived, and I set off to the theatre along with my family and some friends, most of whom would be sat in the audience and would watch the show live. I headed for a separate ‘performance entrance’ along with my dad. I was given a large Britain’s Got Talent sticker which I was told to place along my chest. Boldly and intimidatingly upon it was a number: 114.

We followed the crowd into what became an enormous waiting room backstage. Hundreds of nervous performers of all kinds were pacing up and down, making last-minute tweaks to their act and trying not to faint with the pressure of it all. “Just try to relax,” we were told, “we’ll let you know when we need you.”

Throughout the day, gaggles of numbers were belted out, alerting the corresponding variety acts that this was their time. In each instance, various performers from around the room would stand with apprehension and make their way towards the corridor in which they were all led. It was like The Hunger Games for ventriloquists and dogs who can do funny dances.

Several hours passed. “Can we have contestants 112 - 117 please?” shouted a member of the production team, over the remaining 200 or so singers, comedians and variety acts. I looked down at my sticker… 114. This was it. My hands started to shake as my entire body was suddenly swept with a feeling of trepidation. I tried controlling my nerves, keeping them hidden - but let’s not kid ourselves… I was petrified. I was just about to stand on stage in front of 2,000 people, along with a tremendous amount of TV cameras and a panel of judges, including Simon Cowell. Shit.

I stood in the wings of the theatre; the first time I’ve ever been on the other side of the curtains, and watched as the acts before me did their bit. First, a juggler who dropped a club early on through nerves and was buzzed immediately, illuminating the enormous red X’s above the stage. Until you’re actually stood there, you cannot begin to imagine how loud and intimidating they really are. The ground seems to tremble beneath you like an earthquake as each one is pressed. This was, of course, the very first series of the show - so even the idea that you could be ‘buzzed’ off stage was completely unexpected and absolutely terrifying. Especially for a 12 year old.

Next, a dance act. I didn’t pay much attention to their act to be honest. I just checked my props over and over again, constantly repeating my script in my head. The dancers did seem to do well though, and came running off stage, overjoyed. They were swiftly escorted into a side room to be interviewed for the cameras.

Now it was my turn. I took my position backstage, next to Ant & Dec. “Good luck pal,” said Ant, smiling, “you’re going to be great…” He gestured, signalling for me to make my entrance. I closed my eyed and took one deep breath. I rubbed my hands on my trousers to try and wipe the sweat away. I couldn’t turn back. I strode towards the middle of the stage, faking confidence. Directly ahead of me were the judges surrounded by a sea of people, all looking in my direction.

The next 5 minutes and my act itself is something of a blur, but the reaction from the audience and judges was absolutely incredible! They raved about what they’d just seen and couldn’t have been more complimentary. I was ecstatic - bowled over by their kind words! I walked off stage towards Ant & Dec who continued the barrage of compliments. This is amazing, I thought.

So I went off, did the customary interviews and set off back home with my family, who were elated and overwhelmed by the entire thing. I was on cloud nine for days afterwards and set to work on what my next act would be.

A few days passed and I got a call from someone on the Britain’s Got Talent team, who said the next round would be in London and we’d need to be there a couple of weeks later. We promptly bought some train tickets and my dad and I set off for the capital, excited to discover what it would bring.

We arrived at the theatre, as requested, at 10am that morning. Surrounding us were around 150 other acts, each of whom had also been put through to the next round; none of us really had any idea of what was going on. This was, after all, the very first year of the competition. We had nothing to base it on, or any real idea of how it all worked.

About an hour or so passed when suddenly Simon Cowell appeared above. A hush fell over the, admittedly, rather strange collection of people. “The other judges and I,” he boomed, “are going to re-watch the videos of all of your acts and narrow it down to just 12 of you. We’ll speak to you when we’ve made a decision.” With that, he disappeared into another room.

So, having nothing else to do, we waited. And waited. And waited. About 10 hours passed without a word or any real end in sight. That was until, finally, numbers started being called once again. Much like the first audition, groups of people were being taking away from the waiting room we had been in all day, and into a theatre. I sat, anxiously. Each passing second seemed like a minute.

Finally, my number was called. 4 or 5 other performers and I walked nervously to a show runner, who escorted us to what turned out to be an empty theatre stage. Empty, of course, other than the addition of the four judges sitting in the front row.

There was a moment of complete silence which seemed to last for hours. The other acts and I stood there in desperate anticipation; longing for good news. Finally, Cowell took the lead, “We’d like to say thank you for coming, but unfortunately we’ve not picked you.” Suddenly, in that moment, I felt completely hollow. I just stood there, completely exposed on stage as my dreams seemed to be shot down in front of me. A camera zoomed close into my face to capture any kind of reaction. It was crushing and in that moment I wanted the earth to just open up and swallow me.

I kept an absolutely straight poker face, trying to conceal any kind of emotion as Cowell continued, “you can leave that way.” He pointed towards a side-door and gestured for us to leave. In unison, we turned and sidled out into the dark London street. As quickly as that, it was over. Hours of apprehensively waiting; months of planning, all came crumbling down to this.

It’s a cliché, but I remember the taxi back to the hotel like it was yesterday. Bitterly cold; cloudy but not raining. There didn’t seem to be a single star in the sky. My dad tried to comfort me, tell me it was fine and that he was really proud of how far I’d come - but I just didn’t want to talk. So we sat there, passing the twinkling London lights as I desperately tried to hold back my tears, silently.

Even now, as I write this, I can still feel the unshift-able knot in my stomach I got at the time. I was at an age where the rejection just really hurt. I was completely crushed. Ashamed at the idea of my own failure. This is going to be shown on TV, I thought. I was mortified at the idea of walking into my new secondary school and being laughed at. Humiliated.

My dad spoke to my mum briefly. Told her I didn’t make it through to the next round, but I was alright and would speak to her tomorrow. I just sat, staring out the window.

We got back to the hotel around midnight and I got straight into bed. Head resting on the pillow, staring into the darkness above me, towards the ceiling.

“I’m not sure I want to be a magician anymore,” I said to my dad, “I don’t see what the point is.” I meant it. There was a moment of silence before I rolled over and went to sleep. My dad, he’s since told me, didn’t sleep for a second that night. Helpless in what he could say or do to make me feel better.

A few weeks passed, with Britain’s Got Talent and magic in general going entirely unmentioned. I had no interest in talking about either. I genuinely think I would have happily thrown in the towel after that night and never picked up a pack of cards again – but I had a problem. I’d been hired to perform some close-up magic at a charity event later that month. I was dreading it. I hated magic and did not want to do it, but despite my pleading, despite my begging, my dad insisted that I went and did it. He maintained that I could absolutely not let these people down.

So I went, begrudgingly. Over the course of the following 2 hours, something within me changed. I’d watch smiles dance on peoples’ lips; grown adults burst into spontaneous laughter and applause at the magic they’d just seen me perform. It was making people happy. It was making me happy to be there. It sparked my enthusiasm for magic and performing once again.

Jumping back on the horse was exactly what I needed to do and it reignited my love of it all. Looking back, I absolutely think Britain’s Got Talent did me an enormous favour by not putting me through. Truthfully, I wasn’t ready for it and I think they knew it. I just didn't have the material to sustain being on the show and being able to perform to any kind of high standard. I was jumping the gun without any real experience, and progressing forward in the competition would have probably done me more harm than good.

In the months that followed I forgot about the events of BGT, which thankfully were never broadcast, and moved onto other things. That feeling of rejection though, and how to deal with it, was a genuinely invaluable life lesson. It would be happening a lot over the next few years…

The Magic Set: Age 6

This, really, is where it all began I suppose. It was Christmas morning and amongst the popular gifts of the year 2000 (Stretch Armstrong, anyone?) I also received a Paul Daniels magic set. It seems like a magic set is a hugely common gift for someone of my age - but of everything else I received, that was the one that really stuck with me. Actually, the candy-floss maker was pretty cool as well. I loved the idea that these little props would somehow give me magical abilities, and I spent the rest of my time trying to work out how to make each one of them work.

The next few weeks were spent with me practicing alone in my bedroom - a habit which continued to become a very common occurrence throughout my early teens (and I was practicing magic tricks in there all those years, honestly).

Such minor miracles as making small red balls appear under brightly-coloured cups, or making three different sized lengths of rope join together to form one long piece became fascinating to me, and I’d work on them for hours to master the basic sleight of hand needed. Admittedly, I was a strange but dedicated child.

After enough time had passed I, now under the self-imposed stage name of ‘Magic Ste’ (cute, right?), decided to perform a show for my family during one of our weekly Sunday get-togethers. I was 6 years old; I thought I was David Copperfield and insisted that my relatives sit down to watch my magic show - as you can imagine, they were delighted.

With as much panache and showmanship as a youthful Stephen Williams Jr could muster - which, let me humbly tell you, was an awful lot - I stepped in front of the gathered 10 or so people and gave my first ever performance.

This wasn’t The London Palladium standard, let’s not kid ourselves; but at least 50% of the audience seemed to be mildly-amused, so I considered it a success. Coincidentally, that 50% rule stuck for the next 10 years or so.

The tricks weren’t earth-shattering; I was using a hairbrush as a microphone and my patter was wooden (“Hello, miss, what is your name?” I asked my mother), but I loved it. I absolutely loved it. I’m not entirely sure why, but I suppose something about it just seemed to ‘click.’ Instinctively, I knew that this was going to be what I’d do when I was older. Hopefully by that point, I’d also have also grown into my dad’s black suit jacket that he’d given me to wear.

By the way, if you’re wondering, my dad is also called Stephen Williams - which is why I’m Stephen Williams Jr; although he’s not a magician. In fact, no one in my family does magic or are in the entertainment industry, so I assume they expected the whole thing to be a fad that would probably go away after a few weeks. Now, as I write this, 15 years have passed and I’m still utterly obsessed with it. Thankfully though, the tricks have improved somewhat since then… well, most of them anyway.

About Stephen...

I started doing magic when I was six years old, and became a professional magician as soon as I finished school at the age of 16. I have 4 years’ no-claims on my driver’s licence. That’s pretty much me in a nutshell. I wouldn’t blame you, of course, if you finished reading there… but if you would like to find out more about me - how I got started; how I went from being a magician to a helicopter pilot (kind of) and back again; and how a chance Robbie Williams gig completely catapulted my career, along with all manner of other misdemeanours that have happened so far - then do continue.

This isn’t an autobiography per se; it’s more an overview of my life, in consecutive order, told from my perspective. So it’s almost exactly like an autobiography, just without the publishing deal.

See this as a kind of buffet of stories rather than one flowing piece. Much like a buffet however, there will be some parts you like, some parts you don't like, and some parts that look suspiciously like they have rat shit in them. That’s all part of the fun though, isn’t it?

Feel free to dive into the different sections in any order you want with a sense of wild abandon. Want to start at the end? Be my guest! SPOILER ALERT: The main character doesn’t die. Not yet, anyway.

To be honest, this isn't an autobiography; instead, it’s just a brief overview of some key events that have happened for me professionally so far. I’ve not gone into a tremendous amount of detail for any of them really, just enough to see what the response is like and if anyone would like to find out more. If so, pop your email address into the box on the right and I’ll keep you up the date with the progress. Plugging done.

Currently I’m writing this at Heathrow Airport, waiting to board an airplane for some magic shows I’m performing in Nassau, Bahamas - but we’ve got a fair few years to get through before finding out how I got here - so whack on the kettle, grab some baked goods (a pain au chocolat, ideally) and let’s begin.

The Beginning: Ages 0 - 5

Corporate Magician: 14th November 2015. Skipton, Yorkshire.

Wealth management company, The Pentelow Practice, hired me for their annual client event in November of last year, at Goldsborough Hall in North Yorkshire. They hold the event to celebrate and thank some of their biggest clients; so invited me along to perform some close up magic (and a hint of stage magic) on the night. Following the event, Lynn, the lady who had hired me for the night, sent me the below lovely email:

“Hi Stephen, Just wanted to drop you a line to say a big thank you on behalf of The Pentelow Practice for performing for us at our recent Black Tie Event at Goldsborough Hall. You helped to create a wonderful atmosphere for both clients and ourselves at the Drinks Reception and during dinner. Some great close up magic tricks which took everyone by surprise and a wonderful finale. We will not hesitate in booking you again for future events.” - Lynn Snarr; The Pentelow Practice Ltd

A few months later, Lynn got in touch with me again to see if I'd be available to perform at this years event - this time held at the fantastic Broughton Hall in Skipton. There were roughly 100 guests in attendance so I suggested that 2 hours of close up magic would be perfect.

It was brilliant to be asked back by Lynn and a pleasure to see them all there again! I'm looking forward to seeing them all again next year...

Birthday Party Magician: 7th November 2015. Liverpool.

I was hired a number of years ago to perform close up magic at an Anniversary Party in Liverpool, for a man called James Walsh and his lovely wife. The following year, James asked me back to perform at his son's 40th birthday party - and now, 3 years on, he got in touch again to see if I'd be available to perform at his own birthday party! It's always brilliant when someone who has hired me before get's in touch again about other events, so performing 3 events for James and his family has been an absolute pleasure!

The birthday party was being held in Liverpool and there were going to be around 120 of James' family and friends in attendance, so I suggested that 2 hours of close up magic would be perfect. It's always great seeing people who I've performed for again; and although I've only met them in person a handful of times, it's strangely, just like seeing old friends. We're able to have a laugh and chat just were we left off the last time.

It's was a pleasure being a part of the night and performing for them all again, and I'll looking forward to seeing them all at another party in a few years time.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4wxMxU7ljds

Close Up Magician: 3rd November 2015. Manchester.

I was invited along to perform close up magic at a private event in Manchester on the 3rd November 2015. The organisers had told me that there were going to be a number of high-profile celebrities in attendance, so they were looking to hire someone with a huge amount of experience - not only with performing in general, but also performing specifically to celebrities. They'd been passed my details by an events company who I've work with a number of times before on similar events, so they thought I'd be perfect for the night. The event was held in one of Manchester's most exclusive venues and I'd delighted to say that the magic seemed to go down a storm! As expected, there were a number of A-list celebrities in attendance, so it's always brilliant to be able to entertain some of the people you've grown up watching - and is always a huge honour to be a part of such a private event.

If you're looking to hire a close up magician in Manchester (or even a stage magician in Manchester), check out the videos below to see the kind of thing I'm able to offer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4wxMxU7ljds

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VxV20wPRHyk

Corporate Event Magician in Liverpool

I've just received some photo's from a corporate event I performed at in Liverpool's Echo Arena. I was asked to provide the evening's entertainment for GlaxoSmithKline, following a training day for their staff. They wanted the evening to be magic themed - so thought hiring me as a stage and close up magician on the night would be perfect! Stephen Williams Jr On Stage 1 Stephen Williams Jr. Magician

Stephen Williams Jr Live 2 Stephen Williams Jr - Magician in Liverpool

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VxV20wPRHyk

Lay down on the bed and lower your trousers please, Mr. Williams.

Blimey. Right, well, I don't think any of us expected to hear that today. I've just, rather excitingly, got on board my first ever cruise ship. We're heading off to the Canary Islands from Liverpool and for the next month, this is going to be my home. I'm doing two shows a night, once a week and the rest of the time is my own - amazing, I think.

Being a magician in the North West, the fact that this cruise was sailing from a port on Liverpool's dock couldn't have been more ideal. So, I jumped on board and started to settle in.

A few hours passed and I was unpacked. I was excited. I’m was, incredibly sea-sick. I won't get into specifics, but it wasn't my most flattering of moments. I performed at a wedding on a boat once but other than that I've never spent any time on water; so I really hadn't considered this.

I picked up the cabin phone and dialled to reception.

'Hello,' I said tentatively. 'This is probably nothing, but I've got a bit of sea-sickness and...'

'Do not leave your cabin, sir. A nurse will be with you shortly.' The suddenly very stern voice commanded from the other side.

So, I waited, anxiously. I considered putting the kettle on, to try and act nonchalant about the whole thing and give the impression that it was nothing. I didn’t.

I heard a knock at the door and welcomed the nurse in. She didn’t seem one for chit chat and almost certainly would have refused a cup of tea, so I was proud of my earlier decision about the kettle.

She looked at me seriously and said, “Lay down on the bed and lower your trousers please, Mr. Williams.

I’m going to inject you with something to stop the motion sickness, but you’re going to be placed into quarantine - so please don’t leave the cabin for the next 2 days.”

I was taken aback. 2 days! 2 entire days stuck, alone, in the cabin. Having sailed away from the coast, I had no internet, no phone connection and I'd completely forgotten to bring any books! All I had was one film on my computer. The countdown to freedom began...

What was supposed to be the start of an exciting new escapade; an exciting new adventure, actually began with me, locked in a cabin and watching Mrs. Doubtfire for the third time, in my pants. Being in my pants definitely wasn’t related to the fact that I was also watching Robin Williams dressed as a comical fat lady, of course.

It was mid-afternoon on day 2 when suddenly, the phone rang.

'Mr Williams' said a low voice on other other end. 'Since you're showing no further symptoms, you can leave your cabin at 8am tomorrow morning.'

‘8am?!’ I questioned whilst raising my eyebrows - which was an unusual thing to do considering I was on the phone.

It appears they allow a little extra time to ensure everything is fine.

Early the following morning; my alarm sounded and I jumped out of bed. After what felt like a lifetime, I, was a free man; free! I looked out my cabin window at the gentle waves and glorious sunshine. Brilliant! I'm a free man (I haven't mentioned that yet, have I?) and the sun is shining! I'm going to spend today by the pool, I think.

Revelling in my new found freedom, I fled out of my cabin, making my way towards the not-at-all-Roman piscina.

Wanting to make up for the lost time, I swam a few lengths; drank a Margarita (well, a diet Coke with no ice, but that doesn’t sound quite as good); grabbed a sun-lounger and closed by eyes to catch a few rays…

“You’ve cracked it, Williams!” I thought to myself.

I woke up a couple of hours later and decided to jump in the shower and get dressed for the evening’s meal. It was then, I realised what had happened.

Finding myself back in the cabin, I looked in the mirror, aghast: I was glowing with sunburn. I had a face like a giant tomato, with a quiff. What am I going to do, I thought!

I was so embarrassed you could say I was red in the face.

I couldn't let anyone see me like this - I looked ridiculous! In my mind, there was really only one answer; I had to let this settle!

Right, I'm not leaving this cabin for the next 48 hours, I think.

Magician Manchester - Show

Since my magic show at The Epstein Theatre in Liverpool earlier in the year, I’ve received a tremendous amount of emails and Facebook messages asking if I’ll be bringing my show to Manchester. I perform as a close up magician and stage magician in Manchester regularly, however it’s typically for corporate events or private parties, rather than public performances. With that in mind, I’m planning on doing a theatre magic show in Manchester soon - and you’re invited! What’s even better is that it’s going to be an ALL NEW show; so even if you’ve seen me before, this entire show will be different. I hugely excited about it.

Not only will the tricks be new, but I’ll also be mixing things up a bit and performing some close up magic on stage during the show - with he aid of HD cameras projected onto a huge screen!

It’s all in the planning stage at the minute and we’re still talking to a variety of theatres in Manchester to see which would be best suited for the show - but to be the first to find out when the tickets go on sale (and even get a pre-sale discount) feel free to sign up for my newsletter below. I send out a couple of emails a year with some of my latest news, magic trick videos and updates. Just pop your email address into the box below:

Join Stephen's Newletter

By the way, if you’ve not seen them already, check out my magician Manchester videos below as well:

https://youtu.be/db-LubMOQWs

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YTNb5kVLx14

Manchester Magician with Coleen Rooney

Being a magician based in the North West, Manchester is one the main areas in which I regularly perform my close up and cabaret magic. Everywhere from Old Trafford to the Palace Hotel - if it’s a venue in Manchester, there is a very likely possibility that I’ve performed at it. Speaking of the Palace Hotel, a few years ago I was asked to perform some stage magic there as part of an awards evening. I’d recently won the title of ‘World Junior Magic Champion’ with a classical magic act I used to perform, and the organisers of the evening were hoping that I’d be able to present the act on the night.

It was a black tie affair with, from memory, around 300 people in attendance - along with some invited VIP guests.

The unusual thing about standing on stage (and something I’d imagine is relatively unknown) is that you’re literally looking into complete darkness, and can often see little more than the front row. Due to the intensely bright stage lighting and typically unlit seating area, you’re never actually able to see the audience - so I had absolutely no idea who was sitting there.

About half way though my act, I walked into the audience to find a volunteer. Now off stage, I was able to see the tables of people sitting there. I strolled amongst the dickie bowed collective trying to find someone who would be suitable, when suddenly I made eye-contact with someone I recognised. Sat right in front of me was Coleen Rooney, who was next to Wayne Rooney and Rio Ferdinand. It turns out that one of the tables was made up of the Manchester United team!

Never one to turn down an opportunity, I asked Coleen if she’d mind joining me on stage and she graciously accepted. What a result, I thought.

Coleen assisted me in my ‘Floating Table’ illusion and was absolutely brilliant to have on stage! The performance went on to be featured in OK! Magazine and was covered in several national newspapers; which just goes to show what one chance opportunity can do.

I later went on to perform that act on a tour with Stephen Mulhern; I was flown to Atlanta, Georgia to perform it for The Society of American Magicians and was an invited performer during The Magic Circle Christmas Shows, which is where I performed the act for the final time.

Although I regularly perform as a close up and stage magician in Manchester, I’m also lucky enough to be able to perform my magic around the world - in fact, I happen to be writing this from Praia da Vitoria, Azores! So if you’re looking for a magician for your next party, event or wedding, whether it’s in Manchester or not, I’d love to be a part of it! Just drop me a message through the contact page and I’ll come straight back to you with my availability.

Magician Chester // Strange Gigs

http://youtu.be/4wxMxU7ljds As a magician in Chester, I’m asked to perform at all off kinds of events - ranging from corporate awards dinners, to weddings and birthday parties. No matter what the event, the chances are I’ve been asked to perform at it at one point or another.

In fact, a strange one has just come to mind: I received a phone call about 8pm on Thursday, 28th February 2015 from a guy asking if I’d be available to perform at 7:30am the next morning! 7:30am!

A booking that last minute is fairly unusual (although not uncommon), but one so early in the morning is almost unheard of.

It turned out that the person phoning was from a vacuum cleaner sales company, and every so often they give their sales team something exciting and different to start their day. It helps them to sell more machines, apparently. They’d had morning discos; singers; and now, wanted a magician.

So, the following morning, after a huge cup of coffee (magicians generally don’t get up that early), I set off for the sales centre. When I arrived they were just about the wrap up a morning brief, after which they were going to introduce me.

To make it more surprising for the team, they didn't want to introduce me as ‘a magician.’ Rather, they told the staff that I was the owners son (young looks have to come in handy at some point) and that I’d be giving a talk on the companies numbers.

Having me be the ‘bosses son’ was a really fun idea actually. So now, in character, I stood in front of the collective 40 or so sales force and presented an impromptu presentation on the company - of which I knew nothing about, other than the words ‘vacuum cleaner.’

I offered to give a demonstration on how the team can improve their monthly sales, and asked if anyone had a banknote. Someone, who seemed slightly skeptical, reached into their wallet and handed me a £20 note. Slowly, I rolled it up; picked up the glasses of water which was on the table and continued to produce a real goldfish from it.

The response from the room was huge. They genuinely had no idea I was a magician and were fully expecting a tedious talk about finance, so the production of a live goldfish couldn’t have been more unexpected. It has nothing to do with ‘improving their monthly sales’ of course, but I thought it was as good an excuse as any.

I reintroduced myself to the group, now as the magician, and the next 20 minutes or so flew by. It turned out to be a really brilliant morning and was a really fun thing to do… even though it was at 7:30am.

Looking at my calendar for that day, is also happened that I was performing at The Griffin in Cheadle, Chester than night as well. The manager at the time, Lee, was looking for something different to attract customers to the restaurant on Friday nights and to get them talking about the venue with their friends - so he decided to have ‘Magic Fridays.’ It was a really good idea actually; not only were the guests getting great food, but they were also getting some close up magic right at their table, completely free.

I performed at The Griffin for a number of months, but unfortunately due to now performing out of the UK for the majority of the year, I was no longer able to continue. Close up magic is definitely something I’d recommend to restaurant owners though - it’s fun; it will get your guests talking about the restaurant and can also be perfect addition to particularly busy nights - keeping the guests happy whilst they wait for their food.

So if you’re holding a party, wedding or even something a bit more unusual in Chester (or anywhere for that matter), feel free to contact me via the contact page above; I’d love to be a part of it.

Do you travel?

One of the most common questions I get asked is how far I travel. Although I'm based in Liverpool, I've been lucky enough to travel the world performing magic, and have been able to visit everywhere from Atlanta, Georgia - for The Society of American Magicians; to Tokyo, Japan - where I consulted on and starred in an advert for Sony Bravia. So whether you're looking to hire me as a close up magician in Manchester, a corporate magician in London or even a stage magician in Dubai, feel free to get in touch - I'd love to be a part of it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=db-LubMOQWs

Wedding Magician: 24th July 2015. Thornton Hall, Wirral.

I've just returned home from Thornton Hall in the Wirral - which just so happens to be practically next door to Thornton Manor, where I performed at last Saturday. I'd been invited to perform as part of the celebrations for an Indian wedding. There were a whopping 350 guests there during the day, so I'd been asked to come along to entertain as many guests as possible with close up magic; just before the evening started.

Selina, the mother of the bride, had been recommended by services by someone who has seen me at another event and was looking for something fun and different to add to the day. It was certainly a task trying to see so many people, but it was brilliant fun to do and fantastic to be a part of such a special occasion.

Close up magic can be the perfect addition to weddings; it's memorable, unexpected, fun and the perfect ice-breaker for your guests. Check out the video below to see some of my close up magic filmed at various different events, and feel free to contact me via the links above to get in touch about your next part, event or wedding - I'd love to be a part of it!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4wxMxU7ljds

Birthday Party Magician: 12th July 2015. Cheadle, Hulme.

I don't perform at a huge amount of private parties in houses, but for some reason this month it has been really popular! They're brilliant fun to do - typically all the guests know each other already and there is just a great vibe around the day; so they're some of my favourite events to perform at. I received an email to ask if I'd be available on the 12th July 2015, to perform at a 70th birthday birthday party in Cheadle, Hulme. Sally, the lady who's birthday it was, wanted to add something different and unique to the day so thought hiring a close up magician to walk around the guests would be perfect. Naturally, I agreed... although I may be somewhat bias.

Sally had told me she was expecting around 50 guests for the day, so I said that 1 hour of close up magic would be perfect.

Holding the party in her garden (thankfully, out in the glorious sunshine), I was set to perform after the guests had eaten a specially catered hog-roast. The guests seemed to love the magic and Sally told me afterwards she couldn't have been more delighted with the response.

It was a real pleasure to be a part of the day and I was thrilled I was able to make it that extra bit special.

Happy birthday, Sally! Looking forward to being a part of your 70th.

Private Party Magician: 11th July 2015. Urmston, Manchester.

One of the great joys of being a magician is just how different each day, and is event I'm able to perform at is. I received a phone call from someone called Nick, who had been recommended by services as a close up magician by a friend of his who had seen me at another event. Nick was arranging a 70th birthday party and was having his friends and family around to his house for a BBQ, so was hoping I'd be available to perform during the afternoon. His house was in Urmston, Manchester, and there were around 70 invited guests, so I suggested that around 1 hour of close up magic would be perfect for the day.

The weather wasn't brilliant (typical British summer, and all that) but that didn't stop anyone from a having a great time! Under the cover of the marquee in the garden, the guests gathered around and applauded, laughed and and seemed to thoroughly enjoy the magic. There was just such an infectious joyfulness about the day, that it would have been impossible not to have a good time, so it was a real pleasure to be a part of.

I was able to grab a burger from the BBQ before I left as well, result!