IT was magic!

That’s how entertainer Peter Price looks back on his career as a magician entertaining thousands of children and adults in the Weymouth area.

The former airman got the bug for magic while he was working as a hairdresser after he left the RAF following the Second World War.

Peter, of Benville Road, Weymouth, decided to start performing his own tricks. In 1948 Peter put together a show for children called Uncle Pete’s Puppet and Magic Show and would perform it all over Dorset.

He said: “My first trick was with a ball and tube. I would hold a tube then drop a ball in it and would then magic the ball from somewhere else.

“In those days there was no television and people wanted entertainment. I would do a Happy Family Concert Party where I would play the piano and do my tricks.”

Early in his career Peter paired up with his late wife Jean to form a magic act that proved a hit.

He said: “I started off doing tricks on my own and I would go to Pontins holiday camps entertaining.

“When they built the new Butlins I went there and I even went to Torremolinos to entertain there in the summer season.

“But I didn’t want to do it all on my own so I asked my wife to join me and we formed an act in which I would saw her in half. I had to be very careful but it used to work well.

“Jean was so interested in it.

“She was a bit apprehensive at first but she would go on stage and sing a couple of songs and then introduce me.”

Peter and Jean travelled all over the world in the 1970s performing magic tricks.

The best audience Peter ever performed in front of was the crowd at Barry Island.

The pair also enjoyed a stint at a holiday camp in Croyde, Devon, where they would lodge in huts from April to the end of October.

Another feat Peter would perform was finding his way out of a straitjacket and freeing himself from a rope.

He said: “I think what helped me on stage was being a musician. I could go round with my trumpet talking to the audience. If anything went wrong I would try and turn it into a joke.”

Peter also perfected the art of puppetry to incorporate into his act.

“We’d perform shows to adults and children,” he said.

“To keep it fresh and interesting we’d go off and find new puppets to join the act.

“I remember the Tom and Jerry puppets being popular. I would do the voices.

“I also had an Emu puppet which I would use to ‘attack’ the kids with as a joke.”

At the height of the act’s popularity Peter would do three of his shows a day, dashing from one children’s party to the next.

Peter was thrilled to meet TV magician Paul Daniels in the early 1980s but says he was more impressed with Paul’s wife ‘the lovely Debbie McGee’!

“Paul Daniels came to Bennetts Water Garden in Chickerell. I was there and we had a conversation about magic and Debbie McGee was there too.

“The two of them opened up the bridge at the gardens.

“We met a lot of celebrities during the time we were performing. I enjoyed meeting Jim Bowen one time and I really enjoyed meeting the Duke and Duchess of York when they came to a show at Weymouth Pavilion in the summer of 1987.”

Other jobs Peter had included being a messenger boy at the age of 16 for Weymouth’s National Fire Service, a television actor in Only Fools and Horses and Miss Marple, a Royal Air Force driver and a dozen more jobs besides.

Thanks to Peter for sharing these ‘magic’ memories with the Looking Back pages.