Jamie Raven Interview

Magician Jamie Raven has announced UK tour dates early next year and so we thought it would be a great time to catch up with the star for a chat.

The Britain’s Got Talent finalist will perform new and astounding magic tricks on a 13-date tour in February 2016.

Jamie Raven BGT
Jamie Raven BGT

MarkMeets chat with Britain’s Got Talent illusionist Jamie Raven in an exclusive Interview by Cliff Morton.

Jamie before I mention the Roller Coaster that was Britain’s Got Talent (B.G.T).

Could you give us an insight to what life was like for Jamie the Magician?

Yeah of course yeah. I’m 31 years old I’ve been performing professionally for the last eleven years. I went to university when I was seventeen, not through any academical brilliance, it’s just that my birthday is at the very end of August, so when I went to school my mother was given the choice of whether I was the oldest one with younger kids or the youngest one with the older kids and her idea was that if I went out with the older kids and I couldn’t handle it, I could always re-do the year and I’d still be the same age as everyone else. Luckily, it all worked out so I went to university in Bath when I was 17 which was great and did an Economics degree for three years and graduated when I was 20. Magic had been a hobby of mine since I was 10 or 11 years old and along the way I met a guy who introduced me to the idea that you can earn money out of performing, basically we call a residency now, in Bars, Clubs and Restaurants doing magic Close-up and that’s what I did. So, it started when I was 20 and I’d been doing it for 11 years by the time Britain’s Got Talent rolled round this year.

How did the idea of Britain’s Got Talent come about?

Jamie: It’s an idea that since the show was conceived Nine years ago, you know regardless of what you think of the show, if you’re somebody who performs for a living, I promise you I am proof that. There is no quicker way to raise your profile than by doing this show and making a success out of it. There is a risk and obviously if somebody does it for a living. If I was to go on there and it not work, or you know, they say that I was rubbish or they didn’t enjoy it or whatever. My life takes a change because this is what I do for a living and by the time I auditioned I already had 30 or 40 events lined up for the rest of the year and I knew that if I went on and it didn’t go so well my professional life would take a hit. I’d either need to find something else to do for a while or I’d just need to lie low and get over it, but it was, you know, a risk I was willing to take. I’d been thinking about it for couple of years and I think when the show was first conceived I don’t think Magicians like myself or like us, got a fair crack at what we did because we need a bit more time to make things seem impossible. You need time to establish credibility even if it’s just a minute or two, you know if you’re a Singer you can go out there and you belt out a note and straight away people know you can sing, if you dance, you do a move and people know you can dance but for what we do, you need a little bit more time to establish the credibility that’s needed to make everything seem so impressive. I’d always shied away from all that for that reason and as I said the reason that, you know, it was my living, it pay’s my Mortgage. Then this year I thought you know what? I’m very fortunate in the sense that I’ve been performing for 11 years I was doing 4 or 5 events per week and in December I’d do like 30. I’d reached a point where I couldn’t get any higher by being someone that no one has ever heard of. As a performer we each want to perform to as many people, as often as possible and you know rather than do a Cabaret for 100 people or 200 people I’ve got the chance to do it to 3500 so it was it was a risk and it was definitely worth taking it and I’m thrilled I did.

Any risk that messes about with your livelihood, especially when you’ve got a mortgage to pay is massive and I take my hat off to you. I do a little bit of magic myself as you know, not on the scale that you do but I do know a lot of Magicians and your right it’s more of a unique art

Jamie: Yes

There are people that can sing and there are people that make you go wow. The X Factor does it for singing and with BGT it’s harder because it is an art and it is common knowledge that Simon Cowell isn’t a fan of magicians and as I said, I take my hat off to you because you’re the person who has finally cracked him.

Jamie: Oh yeah, you know, I don’t think that he wasn’t a fan of Magicians. I just think there’s lots of singers that he doesn’t like doesn’t like with doesn’t mean he doesn’t like music.

For anyone who performs Magic you know that at some point you’ve seen something that’s made you go “wow.” It’s not only “wow” it’s, I want to do that for other people. I just think that maybe he’s never seen the right person at the right time doing the Trick that did that for him and then I was lucky enough to go on and when I did my audition he said that he “now actually believes in Magic”. When I finished at the end of the Final he said “Magic must be real” so hopefully it’s opened some doors now for others who do what we do and then maybe next year, or the year after. I came second and I’d love a Magician to win because they’ve only had a singer, a dance group or a Dog Act win. We’ve come second now so hopefully next year someone can go one step further.

Well I always go with the likes of Olly Murs on The X Factor, he come second. He’s not done too bad? (Laughs)  Maybe it’s a bit of a jinx but it’s probably a good thing you come second?

Jamie: It’s funny that, I don’t know why that should be. You’re the one that wasn’t as popular at the time but I guess it happens.

With respect to the act and all the hype that came with Matisse the dog, that’s showbiz. At the end of the day you know people at the time say “yes, great act,” we all love an animal act and I think that you’ve dealt with all the publicity in the right way.

Jamie: I think sometimes there are certain types of acts that if you work in the profession we call them “Spec Acts” and they’ve got 10 minutes of incredible material and they make a great career and they are absolutely fantastic by performing that same ten minutes to many, many, many, different people. And when you’ve not seen it for the first time you watch it and it’s incredible and that’s the joy of what it is. They’ll then go and do that to the next group the next group and the next, whereas like others, I’m really lucky that I’ve got the chance to be a bit more longevity because what we do, you know, you’re limited only by your imagination. So one day you can do a trick with a Card, the next day you can do a trick with a House or anything. You are limited by nothing. So I guess for me I’m in the fortunate position of whatever the outcome of the show was you know, all these other doors have now opened other opportunities and ‘m just delighted to be able to try and take advantage of them.

And I’m guessing after all the hype you’re now friends with Matisse? (Laughing)

Jamie: Big Time

Jamie Raven
Jamie Raven

You’ve bought Dog biscuits?

Jamie: Yes, absolutely we were friends anyway. With BGT it’s weird because unless you’ve done it you can’t, or no one can, understand the pressure that is involved. Basically when they do the live show, I turned up on Wednesday before the show started on the Monday to do rehearsals, you’re there with all the acts, there’s 45 acts in the semi-finals and you’re all there together. You get a time to rehearse on certain days and there’s literally just a studio and a canteen and that’s it. There’s a hotel, up the road in Wembley and you stay there but you are all bunched in together, so you would all have lunch together, you see each other and although it is a competition, it’s not really competitive because, you know you just want to go and do your best and then because it’s the general public you don’t know how you’re  going to go down. You’re just going to go out, do your best and hope that the people at home like it.

I’m lucky that I’ve been doing this for 10 years so I’m used to a bit of pressure when it comes to performing. Bear in mind that some of the people who were performing have never done this before. You know, when they did their audition that was the first time they ever performed in public and now all of a sudden you’ve got to do it live in front of 12 Million people.

On the magic front, there’s massive interest at the moment with what you’ve been doing on TV and Magic on TV in general. You and I grew up in the Paul Daniels, Wayne Dobson era but then Magic seemed to take a bit of a back seat until the likes of Dynamo and David Blaine hit our screens and now we’re seeing more and more, magic on TV which is great. What’s your thoughts on TV Magic in general?

Jamie: I love magic and I love all forms of magic, don’t get me wrong I much prefer watching it live so if you can watch it in a Theatre or you can watch somebody do it for you I think it’s so much more impressive. Only because I think this for the lay audience as well. Even if you know Magicians aren’t using camera tricks or edits, whatever. People watching at home will still think camera trick. There’s not, but they think there is and there’s a hook on which you can hang an explanation.

I think magic on television for me and what I would like to do if I get the opportunity. You the viewer should watch it and you should see everything that went on like if you went to watch David Copperfield in the Theatre. He doesn’t disappear for five minutes and then come out and then disappear for five minutes again. You see everything from Cradle to Grave and that’s what I want to do. I love Magic on television and I do think the general public are now aware that sometimes, you know, they’re not being shown the whole picture which does irritate me because I think that’s not really very fair. If you want to watch a special effects movie you watch Robert Downey Jr in Iron Man you know he can’t really fly in his Iron Man suit but you watch it on TV and he looks like he can.

That’s what that should be and you know that when you’re into it. He’s not claiming any super skills he’s just offering his branch of entertainment and I know as magician’s, we’re offering our branch of entertainment but sometimes I think that TV Magic isn’t fair on the people watching.

I’ll tell you why I feel so strongly about this. I’ve done this for 11 years and I’ve turned up to events and people have said did you see X, Y, Z can you do X, Y or Z? I’ve said “No I can’t, I’m not that good, ha, ha, ha,” when in actual fact no one can, not even they can. Do you know what I mean?

It’s not fair to set this bench mark of the impossible. What I tried to do on BGT was do everything that if someone said to me tomorrow, can you do that trick, I’d say yes, no problem.

Yes, you can do it there and then?

Jamie: Yes, I could do it in your Living room because for me that’s what Magic is. It’s the skill of the performer. It’s like David Copperfield, if you watch his show in Vegas. If you’ve got a big enough living room he can come and do that for you in your Living Room. There are certain things you watch on television and you say “could you do that Live? No you can’t. Why not? “Well whatever the reason is, that for me is not the same and that’s what I am going to try and do, is try to champion that. Change the attitude of the public so they believe that when you see a magic trick or magic program on T.V. It’s like you were there.

We’re hoping to have something come up and we’re talking at the minute, but basically it might be as simple as just two cameras. One watching me and the other is to film the people’s reaction but it will only cut to the reactions once the trick is done. You see everything from Cradle to Grave and then you can decide if you know how it works.

The thing is there is always going to be someone trying to work it out. You know yourself, you get people and it kills them not to know how the trick is done.

Jamie: Exactly.


You get people that hang on the belief that it’s camera trickery even when it’s not.

Jamie: Exactly the thing is with magic you know, I’ve learned this through doing it professionally and through performing in front of thousands of people over the last decade.

The way I do it is I’m just offering you entertainment. I’m not claiming anything, I’m not trying to convince you of anything. I’m just offering you my take on an art that I love. An art that is second to none when performed live. There is very little to compare Magic to when it’s performed live and some people are happy to come and watch it and enjoy it for what it is which is entertainment. Some people, like you say, have to work out how you’ve done it which is cool because that’s the challenge when you are a Magician, you’re saying “I’m going to show you something (without saying it obviously) and if it works, hopefully it’s going to get by you and then your job is to work out how it’s done and 99% of the time people will come nowhere close. They will justify it to themselves. You could do any Trick in the world and someone will just say “Oh, yes, sleight of hand.

It’s like saying the Sky is blue. It’s like, well yeah, well done, but that’s fine that’s nice, that’s their prerogative. In my experience on Britain’s Got Talent, you do all these tricks and we’re only people trying to do the best that we can. The difficulty I had is, I’m performing live in a studio with like, I don’t know how many, 15 or 16 camera’s and I don’t know which ones are on me. Now you know better than most, its angle sensitive so if I was in charge of the production which I wasn’t on BGT because it’s not my show, then I’d have known. I was just a small Pawn in their game, but I didn’t know which Camera’s they were using, so I do my best. You talk to the producers and stuff before and you have an idea of where they are but you can’t even see the Camera’s. You don’t even know where they are, so you go on and do your best and people will try to work it out and that’s fine, that’s the game. But it’s like I said to somebody the other day. If you watch Magicians on television or television programs, you watch their shows but do they ever make mistakes. No, never, is that because they don’t make mistakes? No it’s because they get twenty takes to re-film

I was given 1, well 2 chances live and I just went out and did my best and as you say, the beauty of magic is that I’m not claiming anything. It’s like Joseph Dunningers’s Quote “For those who believe, no explanation is necessary; for those who do not believe, no explanation will suffice.”

If you want to, watch it and enjoy it, for what it is, that’s cool with me. If you want to come and watch it just to work it out, that’s cool with me as well. I don’t mind, just come and watch it (laughing). The more people interested in Magic, the better. Another phrase I was told years ago is “It’s the job of any performer who takes up a craft seriously to try to leave that craft in a better place than it was when you found it”

Now if just for me, what I’ve done has enabled or opened the door a fraction for more people or more magicians to go on just one show like BGT, if I played a tiny part in making the BGT people more receptive to Magicians or I’ve given Magicians more confidence to go out and perform that’s great.

So I’ve got to ask you, who is your favourite magician?

Jamie: OK the first person I ever watched and I watched loads of magic and I love all magicians but the first person I ever watched that really took my breath away was Steve Forte who was the Card Guy or Card Cheat. Incredible. In fact, I take that back. The first person or first magician that I ever saw that made me take my breath away, I don’t even know his name. I was on holiday with my family in India and he came up to our table in a Restaurant and he did his thing and I don’t even know his name. I can remember vividly what he looks like but I can’t remember his name. He was the first one, but recently for instance there was a book I was given called “Steal like An Artist” and the point is when you see people perform and I mean all performers, singers, dancers actors, not just Magicians.

Don’t copy them and try to be the next one of them. Try and make everyone want to be the next one of you. What you’ve got to do is take the great things that they do and then try and apply them to yourself.

So for Example Michael Jackson. I remember watching him on Tour once, I think it was in Spain. Show starts, lights out, bang. Spot Light on Centre spot and he’s just standing there on his tip toes and he waits for about 45 seconds, doesn’t do anything, doesn’t move and the place went Banana’s and the longer he stayed there for, the more people went crazy. I remember thinking then, do you know what, sometimes, you need to do nothing to get the best reaction. Especially with what we do. When you’ve done a trick, you’ve got to let people react and you’ve got to let them enjoy the moment. A comedian I worked with years ago said “Don’t do your next trick until the last person in the audience has stopped clapping.

A Comedian will tell a joke and people laugh and while they are laughing you want to carry on and tell another joke, but wait and listen until the last laugh has died down and then you move on and tell the next one.

On TV you mentioned, Paul Daniels, Wayne Dobson. For me, Derren Brown is the best Magical Performer that this country has ever produced by a long way. Dynamo for raising the bar and introducing Magic again to a whole new generation. Obviously David Blaine in the states, when David Blaine first came over and his shows were shown in this country, that changed everything for everyone and he was before Derren. Obviously if you look at the stage performers in the states you’ve got David Copperfield, Lance Burton, Matt King,

Penn & Teller who are obviously brilliant and then David Williamson as a Magician, is one of my favourites and he’s actually on the same show as me now in “The Illusionists” in November. I’ve never met him before and Kevin James as well who is another one, he’s just a great thinker and I’m so lucky that they are both on the show in London.

Magician Jamie Raven tour
Magician Jamie Raven tour

Don’t laugh, my favourite was Tommy Cooper.

Jamie: Yes, Tommy Cooper is a genius. It’s like Les Dawson playing the Piano. Even if no one knew anything about Magic, they watch him perform and for him to be that bad, he’s got to be so good.

I think that’s what got me into Magic. I thought I might be able to pull that off. I could be that bad.

Jamie (Laughing) Yes and the irony of it was a lot of the tricks he performed were self-working, so for them not to work and for him to make them mess up, took 10 times the skill it would’ve done for him to do them properly.

Absolutely brilliant. I remember watching a sketch he done called “The Gate”. He just walked out on stage and there was this Garden gate and he looks at it and does that voice and he’s just looking weird. He opens the gate and it squeaks and then he turns around and literally for like 4 or 5 minutes he didn’t say anything, he was just walking through this gate.

..And it was still squeaking

Jamie: Yes and I was in hysterics. It was just him, it was perfect.

Yes, It’s like you said, you have to have your own, unique way of delivering it. You can learn the skill and put your own take on it.

Jamie: Exactly. No one else alive could’ve done that, obviously they could’ve done it, but no one could’ve done it as well as he did because it was the faces he pulled and because he was such a big guy as well. He had this very distinctive look and the face, it was just ridiculous.

It’s like putting someone on Roller Skates, it’s just funny, for some strange reason it’s just funny. Tommy Cooper knew that so when he put a Fez on, they’d say, why are you wearing that Fez? Well it’s funny.

It was simplicity but it worked.

Jamie: And now everyone knows his name.

You mentioned “The illusionists” and you’ve also got your own UK tour. Can you tell us a bit about them?

Jamie: Yes, sure, off of the back of BGT I’ve been very kindly invited to take part in November. 7 1/2 weeks at the Shaftesbury Theatre in a show called “The illusionists” which is the most successful touring Magic show ever. It’ll be running simultaneously in the West End of London but also the same time on Broadway in New York. It’s myself and 5 others and each person has their own specialty. I’ll be doing my thing. Colin Cloud’s doing the mind reading, you’ve got Andrew Basso, Ben Blaque who’s doing the crossbow thing. Andrew Basso is the Escapologist. Manipulator David Williamson is compering and holding it all together & Kevin James. It’s just an honour. Number 1, to be invited to perform in that show. Number 2, to be invited to perform along with those guys and number 3 to be invited to the West End for 7 1/2 weeks at the Shaftesbury theatre, a building I have walked passed a million times and I’ve been to a million times sitting at the back in the cheap seats thinking, you know one day?

You might be on that stage?

Jamie: That’s it.

And information for anyone who wants to see The Illusionists?

Jamie: The website for tickets is www.theillusionistslive.com and it’s on for 7 1/2 weeks. I think it Tuesday, there’s no shows on a Tuesday but every other day there is a show and at weekends and Christmas there’s more than one.

And the UK Tour?

Jamie: February next year, I’m very lucky, my own Tour will be starting on February 11th. The tour starts in Bath which is where I went to university 11 years ago and I’m going back.

All the information for tickets etc., is available at www.jamieraven.co.uk www.ticketmaster.co.uk and www.gigsandtours.com it’s all there and I can’t wait.

Amazing, you couldn’t write it?

Jamie: I know. It’s 13 performances over 16 days and I finish in Liverpool on Saturday 27th.

For The Illusionists I’ll be playing a small part in a big show. I think I have 3 x 5 minutes spots and I’ll be coming on doing my bit. In my own show, it’s just me, 2 hours and it will be great fun and it’s something I’ve worked for and wanted to do ever since I started. It will be 21 years in the making when that kicks off on 11th February next year.

How are you coping with the whole limelight thing? Are you enjoying it? Are you getting much privacy?

Jamie: It’s lovely, to be honest, yes you do. I went to the Cinema yesterday with my wife to watch Jurassic World and we went there and it was the middle of the afternoon so there were lots of children. I walked in and we were trying to buy the tickets and a lady came up and said “hello, I just wanted to say we really enjoyed it and could we have a Photo with the kids?” and I was like “yes of course.” We were then in the queue for Popcorn and basically most of the queue were asking for a picture, which is great and lovely and then a little boy came up to me at the end and said “could I have your autograph?. I said “Yes” and he said “what’s your name?

Jamie Raven BGT Interview
Jamie Raven BGT Interview

I said “my name’s Jamie,” he said “What do you do?” I said “I’m a Magician”. He said “Why do all these people want their Photo’s with you?” I said, “to be honest I don’t really know (laughing) but I think it’s probably because I was on a TV Programme that they saw ” and he said “oh, that’s fine, could you sign one for my brother
as well?

He said “he doesn’t know who you are either” and he walked off. It was really lovely that he just thought he had to have something because other people were making a fuss.

It is crazy, the last month’s been absolutely rammed with basically promotional stuff for the tour and trying to let everybody know that that’s happening. The Illusionists one and my one next year. I’ve also filmed a few bits and bobs, it’s lovely and you do get your privacy, no one knows where I live. You come home at night and it’s great but if I go to the shops, it’s not masses but it will probably be 3 or 4 times a day I get stopped which is amazing, it’s lovely.

I was filming this thing on the Southbank last week, it was for “Lorraine” and it was one of the days that the tube strike was on, so everyone was walking. It’s usually busy but it was really, really busy and it was great because there were loads of School children walking to School because they couldn’t on the bus because the bus was full. They were stopping to watch and when we finished there was a big crowd afterwards. It’s just lovely and to be able to make someone’s day with just a photo or to write something on a piece of paper, it’s an honour.

I knew by going on BGT (that if it worked), the reason I’d done it was to raise my profile because I love doing what we do and I wanted to share it with more people and obviously by doing that, more people know who you are. If people take the time to vote for you like they did on the show that I was on. They’ve invested in you and they’ve put you to another level now and it’s my responsibility now to thank them. I wouldn’t be where I am because of that. I was in a restaurant and after I ate I went to the toilet. On the way a lady said “Could I have a photo with my kids” and I was like, “of course, of course” and she said “Is it annoying, people asking you for stuff?” and I said “No, not at all. I’ve been so lucky to be recognised for something I’ve worked hard for over a decade and the only reason that I am there is because the people asking for photo’s now, could be bothered to spend their time and money, voting for me, to put me there.” So, until the day I am done, it is with great pleasure that I will pose for 100 Photo’s a day or 1000, or whatever it is, sign a piece of paper? I remember when I was a kid. I was a big (and still am) Tottenham fan and I remember meeting one of the players and asking for his Autograph. He said “Have you got any paper?” I said “No”. He said “Have you got a Pen?” I said “No” and so he went and got a Pen and all he had on him was a £20 note and he signed the note and gave it to me.


Jamie: And I will never forget that. Something that I have thought along the way is if someone has come up to you because they’ve asked you for an autograph or a Photo because they’ve seen you on television, then they must like you and you are probably never going to see that person again. You can either, be lovely and polite and thank them, or you can just say “No, I’m busy” and walk straight off and for the rest of their lives they’ll tell the story about when they met this guy. You have the chance to do something lovely for someone, give them a story to tell people so with great pleasure, I’ll sign everything.

I remember watching TV once. Do you remember Eric Cantona the football player?


Jamie: There was a video of him at training. It was raining really hard in Manchester and everyone said “Oh, can I have an autograph?” He said “No, no, I’ve got to go inside”. He ran inside and came back out with a chair, a Table and an Umbrella. The umbrella wasn’t for him, it was for the people he was signing stuff for and he sat there in the rain with a queue of about 200 people. He signed everything for everyone. I remember thinking at the time, you never read about that in the papers. I’m not a Man Utd fan but I remember watching it and thinking, that was nice and that has stuck with me.

The fact it has stuck with you and it’s not Tottenham says it all.

Jamie: Yes.

I’ve always gone with the concept that if you’ve worked hard enough and your signature that you sign your Cheque’s with becomes an Autograph then you’ve made it. If someone asked for an Autograph I’d have the same opinion as you. They are your fans and it should be well received. You should only be too happy to sign.

Jamie: Exactly, you are only where you are because of where you have been and I’m where I am specifically because (as I’ve said) people voted for me. In the Final I think they said that 4 million votes were cast or something like that and the lady who beat me had 23% and I had 21%. 21% of 4 Million is a fifth so it’s the best part of 800,000

People who phoned up?

Jamie: Yes and it’s humbling because they’ve never met you before, they don’t know me. They don’t know what I’ve done but they’ve decide to do that for me. The least I can do is thank them with a Photo or a signature, or anything I can.

Brilliant mate. Talking of the fans I’ve got to mention a couple of questions we’ve had emailed in. One of them is from a lad that you know and I know, another fellow Magician James Docherty. He asked me to mention the Magic 8 Ball, not the magic trick. He wants to know if you’ve got any better at playing Pool?

Jamie: (Laughing)

He reckons he battered you at doubles?

Jamie: You can always tell how much time people spent in Pubs growing up by how good at Pool or Darts they are. I’m better than average but I was soundly thrashed that day, more than once by Mr Docherty. So the answer to his question is sadly no, but one day I’ll get there. I’ll have my revenge.

To be fair when I said I would be speaking to you he said do me a favour, pass on my regards, say congratulations and more importantly good luck.

Jamie: That’s great thanks. I saw him at Blackpool at the convention in February earlier this year but sadly I haven’t seen him much since. I’ll look forward to a re-match and I’m sure it’ll be soundly thrashed once again (laughing)

Courtney Smith emailed in and asked did you have, or who was your favourite Judge on BGT?

Yep, no favourite Judge but in general ladies tend to react better, or maybe not better but more vocally to magic than guys do.  It’s the general rule of thumb.  My favourite reaction of the Judges and I I love them all equally, but my favourite reaction was when I done the last bit and Alesha Dixon stood up and said “shut the front door.” That was my favourite.

That’s brilliant mate. You are an absolute gentleman. Good luck with the Tour, good luck with the West End and good luck with everything in the future.

Jamie. Thanks. Much appreciated.

Interview by Cliff Morton exclusively for MarkMeets.com

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