Stars come out to see Chris Harding crowned champion

06 February 2024

Strictly Come Dancing chief judge Shirley Ballas swapped the dance-floor for The Magic Circle’s headquarters last night and gave an unofficial 10 to all the competitors in The Magic Circle’s Close-up Magician of the Year 2024 Competition.
Shirley was one of many stars who came out to see 38-year-old Chris Harding take the crown, with Tim Sutton second and Henri White third.
Shirley said: “It is not often I am flabbergasted but I can honestly say I have no idea how any of those magicians did their tricks. They were wonderful. They all got a ten from me.”
Shirley was among several celebrities who attended the competition in London, invited by President Marvin Berglas.
Former Lioness Alex Scott was one of the “muggle” judges whose score was taken into account alongside side those of professional magicians, Guy Hollingworth, Katherine Rhodes and Chris Wood.
Alex was accompanied by the singer Jess Glynne who proved to the perfect assistant to several of the acts. Beforehand she had said she wanted to see some card tricks – and she found herself involved in many.
Alex who presents the One Show and is a football pundit on television said; “I am used to commentating on what I know about. It was different here. What a fabulous night.”
Other celebrities included Arsenal legend Ian Wright and Shirley’s partner, West End actor Danny Taylor, who played Tommy Cooper in a UK tour last year.
Receiving his award from Marvin, Chris revealed it was 22 years since he last performed at The Magic Circle as a 16-year-old member of the Young Magicians Club and he paid tribute to Mandy Davis and Roy Marsh who ran the club at the time.
Chris, from Kent, said: “I am so proud. This means the absolute world to me.” He spoke of the genuine warmth from his fellow competitors back stage.
Marvin, who presented the award, said: “The competitors all worked so hard and it was a fantastic effort..”
The night was compered by Liam Ball, the main organiser of the competition. The six other finalists were Roman Armstrong, Bronwyn Covney, James Pritchard, Tom Wright, Russ Appleby and Paul Pickford.

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