Secret World of Magic, Sky One

by | May 1, 2005 | All, Reviews

What to say if you liked it

The charming Ali Cook and Pete Firman travel the world showing off their tricks and meeting their magician idols, resulting in a show filled with amiable humour and super slices of stunning sleight of hand.

What to say if you didn’t like it

Magic is for nerds and Dads, while Ali and Pete’s schtick is little more than an Adam and Joe rip-off with a few tiresome card tricks thrown in.

What was good about it?

• The fact that Sky have actually made some original and entertaining output and, even more surprisingly, backed it by giving it a reasonable time slot.

• The clips we saw of magician Mac King’s show were very entertaining, and his goldfish-eating routine was funny and incredibly impressive.

• Mac King answering ‘women’ when Pete and Ali asked him why he got into magic. A very honest answer indeed – surely sex is the only reason anyone ever takes up magic.

• Pete and Ali’s presentation was relaxed, comfortable and amusing. We particularly liked the fact that Pete is a composite, looks-wise, of Steve Coogan, David Schneider and Vernon Kay. Their tricks were good too.

• To mark the fact that this week the boys were in Las Vegas, the soundtrack was taken almost entirely from that of the excellent comedy, Swingers.

• Pete’s nifty narration when talking about the Showgirls of Magic, who do magic while exposing their breasts a lot: “Two shows a night, six days a week has taken their toll on these ladies and their costumes have worn away to virtually nothing.”

• The astonishing pickpocketing tricks perpetuated by magician Apollo. This caused at least six separate gasps of sheer awe from even our cynical mouths as his routine using just a silver coin and some excellent magicians’ patter stunned his victims.

• The incongruity of two very English blokes performing so effortlessly to small Vegas crowds. Pete’s Mr Ball routine was simple and a little silly but his charm and likeability meant the watching audience loved what they saw.

What was bad about it?

• The opening few seconds featured the narration going into Austin Powers mode when saying “100 million dollars”. Austin Powers quotes and rip-offs should be avoided at all costs, unless you’re a TV show for people under 10.

• We liked the way tricks were fitted into their schedule (next to the pool while they drank cocktails they hated, for example). And doing a trick with dental floss in the bathroom was fine. But we did not need to see a very close shot of Pete’s pubic hair as he relieved himself just prior to the trick. The Showgirls of Magic nipples were later blotted out, yet they were surely far more attractive than Pete’s hairy groin.

• While the examples of Mac King and Apollo’s tricks were funny and enjoyable, there wasn’t enough information about Jeff McBride for us to appreciate his skills. It just looked like his whole act was taking lots of masks off. We also weren’t impressed with the Showgirls’ rather lame illusion show, but maybe it wasn’t the magic that people had paid their money to see.

Luke Knowles

Luke Knowles


Editor of the website and host of the podcast. A general TV obsessive. I've been running the site since 2008 and you can usually find me in front of the TV. My Favourite show of all time is Breaking Bad with Cracker coming a close second. I feel so passionately that television can change the world and I'm doing my little bit by running this site. You're Welcome!


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