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Paul Zenon (born Paul Collins on 29 June 1964) is an English stage and TV magician, comedian, presenter, writer and actor. He has appeared in numerous television shows and is an outspoken skeptic with strong views on claims of psychic abilities and the paranormal. He is the author of three published books on magic, proposition bets and practical jokes, and an expert on the history of magic and magicians, variety and unusual entertainments. His specialist subjects include illusionist, escape artiste and Spiritualist debunker Harry Houdini, faux Chinese magician Chung Ling Soo, and Jasper Maskelyne, the 'War Magician'. Zenon is a Member of the Inner Magic Circle with Gold Star status and was the recipient of their Carlton Award for Comedy 2015.

Paul Zenon
Paul Zenon 2012.JPG
Paul Zenon in 2012
Born Paul Collins
(1964-06-29) 29 June 1964 (age 53)
Skipton, Yorkshire, United Kingdom
Nationality British
Occupation magician, skeptic, comedian, writer, actor



Throughout his teenage years, Paul spent the school summer holidays working in the Blackpool magic and joke shop 'The House of Secrets' which was run by Bill Thompson, who became his lifelong friend and mentor.[1] When he died in March 2012, he was honoured by Paul and his other protégés with a one-off variety show 'Bill's Magical Mystery Tour' held at the Pavilion Theatre at Blackpool's Winter Gardens in August 2013.[2]

After early performances at seaside hotels, with several dates supporting rock band Hawkwind on tour and being the lead singer in Blackpool band Crackousrockanroll, at the age of 19 Paul travelled Europe as a street performer, performing magic and fire-eating and supplementing his income with fortune-telling. On his return to the UK, he began performing in summer seasons and comedy clubs and went on to host tours for the British,[3] UN and US Forces in locations including Germany, Gibraltar, Benbecula, Croatia, Bosnia, Serbia, Belize, Argentina, the Falkland and Ascension Islands and on board the aircraft carrier HMS Invincible.

Paul has performed and presented at corporate events worldwide since the early eighties and more recently has been a regular performer at international Arts and Fringe Festivals including Edinburgh, Brighton, London, Dublin, Cork, Adelaide, Melbourne, Brisbane and Auckland, both as guest performer and with his own solo shows, 'Turning Tricks', 'Off the Street, On the Road', 'Cabinet of Curiosities',[4] 'Lounge Wizard' and 'Linking Rings'.[5] He has also produced and presented shows in his own bespoke venue, 'The Marquee de Sideshow' at the Edinburgh, Adelaide and Brisbane Festivals. Since its inception in 2003, he has been a long-term regular in the Olivier award-winning New Variety show 'La Clique' and its spin-off production 'La Soiree'.

Between 1980 and the present day, Paul has made numerous television appearances as performer, presenter and pundit including a Royal Command Performance, several one-man 'specials' and more recently as a regular Dictionary Corner guest on Channel 4's 'Countdown'.

Paul is a Member of the Inner Magic Circle with Gold Star status and is a leading expert on the life of Harry Houdini[6] and other historical magicians and entertainers including Chung Ling Soo and Jasper Maskelyne. He is the author of three published books,[7] and has been an active skeptic invited to give commentary on numerous television and radio shows. In 2012, Paul collaborated with cult comic book artist Vince Ray to produce a custom deck of playing cards: the Z-Ray Deck,[8] printed by the United States Playing Card Company, as part of their 'Bicycle' brand.

Paul has been an active skeptic invited to commentate on numerous TV and radio programmes as well giving live talks, including TedX Salford, Centre for Inquiry, Goldsmiths,[9] University of London, Ratio Conference Bulgaria,[10] and in 2014 he hosted the QED Conference in Manchester.[11]

Recently, Paul has ventured back into acting, making appearances in several short films,[12][13] and has written, produced and performed his first one-man stage drama, 'Linking Rings', at Brighton and Edinburgh Festivals which received 5 star reviews from The Edinburgh Evening News,[14] The List [15] and FringeReview.[16]

In January 2016, Paul will make his one-man West End debut in 'Linking Rings' at the Jermyn Street Theatre in London.[17]

In October 2015, Paul was presented with the Carlton Award for Comedy at a ceremony at the Magic Circle's London headquarters.[18]


Paul Zenon with Susie Dent on C4's Countdown

Early TV appearances included Fun Factory (Granada) in 1980,[19] and New Faces of '86 (ITV)

In 1990/1991, Paul starred in two series of the BBC Children's drama Tricky Business, playing the role of Micky. In 1992/1993, he was the presenter of Tricks n Tracks [20] on BBC One, a programme on which he also acted as Magic Consultant. In 1993, Paul wrote, produced and presented Magic You Can Do[21] for retail release.

He created, wrote and produced Crazy Cottage, an ITV game show which ran for three series between 1996 and 1998. As well as numerous guest appearances on many programmes, Paul was given his own Channel 4 'Comedy Lab' episode Paul Zenon - Turning Tricks,[22] in 1998 resulting in the commissioning of his first one-man hour-long Street Magic special of the same name in 1999. This was followed by consecutive specials Paul Zenon's Tricky Christmas (C4, 1999), Paul Zenon's Trick or Treat (C4, set in Prague, 2000) and White Magic with Paul Zenon (ITV1, set in Lapland, 2003),[23] where he acted as writer, presenter and Executive Producer.

In 2005 he wrote, presented and Executive Produced a prank special involving hidden-cameras Paul Zenon's Revenge Squad, broadcast on ITV. For ten years, Paul's been a regular guest contributor in Dictionary Corner on Channel 4's Countdown and has made appearances on programmes such as The One Show (BBC1), The Culture Show (BBC2),The Gadget Show (C5) and 50 Greatest Magic Tricks (various), where two of his signature routines were included after a peer group poll.

One of his more controversial TV appearances was made in 2011 on ITV1's This Morning where he spoke out about his views on psychics and mediums.


Wonderbus Outing

He is the founder of The Wonderbus,[2] a Registered Charity[24] which takes older people from homes and sheltered housing on days out to see live entertainment and events.

After an early fundraising show at The London Comedy Store featuring comedian Stewart Lee, in the summer of 2008 he toured British theatres with comedians Harry Hill and Lee Mack to raise funds for the organisation. In 2009 he put together and hosted a highly successful benefit show at the London Palladium featuring comedians Dara O'Briain, Sean Lock, Lee Mack and Dave Spikey.[25]


During his early career, Paul worked as a fortune-teller and since then has been a long-term skeptic with regard to the paranormal and the supernatural.

In 2011, Paul wrote an article in the Daily Mail[26] suggesting that psychic Sally Morgan might be using an earpiece through which she could be fed information about members of her audience. This was after members of the public had called a radio station claiming to have heard her appearing to repeat back information that they said moments earlier they'd overheard coming from the theatre lighting box during one of Morgan's shows at The Grand Canal Theatre in Dublin.

Paul stated that stage psychics and mediums often use various Internet tools as well as traditional cold-reading techniques to fish for information with the intention of making their audiences believe that they are communicating with the deceased. He writes "if... performers like Sally Morgan aren't actually talking to the dead, then I think the public has a right to know".[citation needed] Shortly after the article was published, Paul discovered video footage of Morgan walking off a theatre stage and appearing to remove an earpiece. He announced this finding on live television on This Morning (ITV1). Shortly afterwards Morgan made a statement on her Facebook page saying: "I have done and will continue to wear an earpiece... This is entirely normal and allows me to take stage directions and cues from my Stage Director. Just to be clear, I have never received anything other than stage direction or cues from my Stage Director through an earpiece."[27]

Citing "substantial damage to her reputation, as well as hurt, distress and embarrassment" Morgan filed a complaint to Associated Newspapers and sued for damages over their allegations made via a number of articles about the subject. The Daily Mail eventually agreed to pay a smaller figure as settlement and retracted the allegation that an earpiece was specifically used to receive information about members of the audience.[28]

Paul continues to be an outspoken critic of those who purport to be psychic, particularly with regard to claims of receiving communications from beyond the grave. He has contributed to many debates on the subject both at live events including those hosted by Edinburgh Skeptics, Skeptics in the Pub (various), Center for Inquiry (London), Goldsmiths, University of London and Ratio Conference, Bulgaria as well as numerous radio and television programmes. In April 2014 he hosted the QED Conference in Manchester, England, also co-writing and appearing in the opening film.[29][30]


Year Film Role Notes
2017 "Mysteries At The Museum" himself - 2 Episodes TV series
2012 "Countdown" himself – Episode #66.1 TV series
2011 "Dr. Mzuza" Dan Lemon Short
"The Gadget Show" himself – Episode 16.12 TV series
"Breakfast" himself TV series – Dated 25 September 2011
"Surviving D-Day" himself TV movie
2010 "Countdown" himself
Episode #63.118
Episode #63.117
Episode #63.116
Episode #63.115
TV series
"The Gadget Show" himself – Episode 13.5 TV series
2008 "Countdown: One Last Consonant Please, Carol" himself TV documentary
2006 "The Story of Light Entertainment" himself
TV mini-series documentary
2004 "Magic" himself –
"Close-up Magic"
TV mini-series documentary
"The World Stands Up" himself TV series
2003 "Loose Women" himself –
Episode #5.27
TV series
2002 "50 Greatest Magic Tricks" himself TV series – also archive footage
2001 "An Audience with Des O'Connor" Audience Member (uncredited) TV special
2000 "Heroes of Magic" himself TV documentary
1999 "Late Lounge" himself – Special Guest
dated 12 March 1999
TV series
1998 "Comedy Lab" himself –
"Turning Tricks"
TV series
1997 "Live at Jongleurs" himself TV series
1996 "Crazy Cottage" Writer TV series
1995 "Talking Telephone Numbers" himself –
Episode #2.8
TV series
1994 "Talking Telephone Numbers" himself –
Episode #1.6
TV series
1990 "Casino" himself –
Episode #1.2
TV series


Paul is the author of three published books:

  • 100 Ways to Win a Tenner: Scams, Cons, Games You Can't Lose! (2003).[31]
  • Paul Zenon's Dirty Tricks: Pranks, Wind-Ups and Practical Jokes – A Guide to Getting Your Own Back! (2004).[32]
  • Street Magic: Great Tricks and Close-up Secrets Revealed (2005).[33]

Street Magic was re-published in 2008 in a smaller format, with illustrations rather than photographs. it was also sub-divided into smaller sections which were released as individual volumes under various titles.

100 Ways to Win a Tenner was released in the States under the title 100 Ways to Win a Ten-Spot and in Australia as Bar Bets.

Condensed versions of Paul Zenon's Dirty Tricks and Street Magic are due to be re-released in 2016 as Paul Zenon's Practical Jokes and Paul Zenon's Practical Magic.


  1. ^ "Under no illusion why magician is back in town". The Gazette. Retrieved 15 June 2014. 
  2. ^ a b Morley, Jacqui. "illusionist and tV personality Paul Zenon returns to his 'spiritual' home" (PDF). 08/06/13. Blackpool Gazette. Archived from the original (PDF) on 13 April 2014. Retrieved 10 April 2014. 
  3. ^ Pollard, Su. "Su set to entertain the troops". Su Online. Retrieved 15 June 2014. 
  4. ^ "Brighton Fringe 2010 Paul Zenon's Cabinet of curiosities". Archived from the original on 14 July 2014. Retrieved 28 June 2014. 
  5. ^ "Paul Zenon in Linking Rings". Retrieved 2015-10-27. 
  6. ^ "The Hunt for Houdini's Airplane". Retrieved 28 June 2014. 
  7. ^ "Books by Paul Zenon". Retrieved 28 June 2014. 
  8. ^ "zray deck". Retrieved 2015-10-27. 
  9. ^ "Paul Zenon: Mediums at large". Goldsmiths, University of London. Retrieved 2015-10-27. 
  10. ^ "Пол Зенон: Тайните на медиумите | RATIO - Наука на човешки език". RATIO 2013. Retrieved 2015-10-27. 
  11. ^ "QED 2014, 12th-13th April 2014". Retrieved 2015-10-27. 
  12. ^ "Films by Paul Zenon". Retrieved 28 June 2014. 
  13. ^ "QED Conference 2014". Retrieved 28 June 2014. 
  14. ^ "Review: Linking Rings". Retrieved 2015-10-27. 
  15. ^ "Linking Rings". Edinburgh Festival. Retrieved 2015-10-27. 
  16. ^ "Linking Rings". FringeReview. Retrieved 2015-10-27. 
  17. ^ "Linking Rings - Jermyn Street Theatre". Jermyn Street Theatre. Retrieved 2015-12-09. 
  18. ^ "The Magic Circle Awards 2015". Retrieved 2015-10-27. 
  19. ^ "IMDB". 
  20. ^ "Tricks n Tracks". Retrieved 28 June 2014. 
  21. ^ Zenon, Paul (1994), Magic You Can Do, Ramsey, Isle of Man: Beckmann, OCLC 650151619 
  22. ^ Paul Zenon's Tricky Christmas, Channel 4, retrieved 2 May 2013 
  23. ^ "Biography: Paul Zenon". Speakers' Corner (UK). Retrieved 10 April 2014. 
  24. ^ "Charity Overview – 1126557 – The Wonderbus", The Register of Charities, United Kingdom: The Charity Commission, retrieved 2 May 2013 
  25. ^ "Theatre Review: The Wonderbus – Wycombe Swan", Maidenhead Advertiser, Maidenhead, Berkshire, UK: Baylis Media Ltd, 19 June 2008, archived from the original on 13 April 2014, retrieved 2 May 2013 
  26. ^ Zenon, Paul. "Contact with the spirit world ... or a load of crystal balls?". 09/26/11. Wales Online. Retrieved 10 April 2014. 
  27. ^ Morgan, Sally (14 October 2011). "Sally Morgan Facebook Page". Facebook. Retrieved 11 October 2014. 
  28. ^ Halliday, Josh. "Daily Mail to pay £125,000 libel damages over TV psychic 'scam' claim". 06/20/13. The Guardian. Retrieved 10 April 2014. 
  29. ^ "QED Conference Speakers". QED. Retrieved 11 August 2014. 
  30. ^ Zenon, Paul. "Paul Zenon's Preparations (2014)". YouTube. Question, Explore, Discover. Retrieved 4 May 2016. 
  31. ^ Zenon, Paul (2003), 100 Ways to Win a Tenner., London: Carlton, ISBN 9781842229231, OCLC 52232080 
  32. ^ Zenon, Paul (2004), Paul Zenon's Dirty Tricks., London: Carlton, ISBN 9781844428571, OCLC 56457346 
  33. ^ Zenon, Paul (2005), Street Magic., London: Carlton, ISBN 9781844425327, OCLC 60320756 

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