HE’S opinionated and outspoken, yet Paul Daniels remains one of Britain’s most loved entertainers — anyone would think he had a magic wand.

At 72 he is one of the oldest showmen on the circuit, so you can’t blame Paul for the occasional rant. He’s had a lot of experience.

The magician offended Blackpool last year when he branded the town “scruffy” after a visit, but insists he is very much looking forward to returning for the Best Of British Variety Tour.

He said: “I love Blackpool. I just suggested after last time that they should be taking more care of the town to keep it clean.

"I’ve worked there so many times and, honestly, I love it. I just want it to be back to what it should be.”

Paul will perform in the seaside resort for two nights in August and one in September, alongside The Krankies, The Grumbleweeds and Syd Little, for an evening of entertainment harking back to the good old days — hosted by Christopher Biggins.

“It’s the perfect show in the perfect theatre.

"Blackpool, after all is the home of British entertainment,” added Paul, who shot to national fame with the launch in 1979 of The Paul Daniels Magic Show, which ran until 1994.

The veteran performer’s obsession with magic began at the age of 11 when, during a holiday, he read a book called How To Entertain At Parties, and was immediately hooked.

He began performing magic as a hobby, occasionally entertaining at parties and youth clubs and later doing shows for fellow servicemen during his national service.

And considering he’s been practising this craft for more than 60 years and touring his act for 41 years, it’s little wonder he can still pull the crowds in at venues all over the world.

“I’m enjoying myself more these days. I think I’m doing it better.

"The others can’t stand the competition. I’m a sex symbol,” chuckled Paul, who has been married to his assistant, 51-year-old Debbie McGee, for 22 years.

“A coin trick is my favourite at the moment. It comes from a show I did at the Edinburgh Fringe and it’s over 100 years old.

"It’s from a show by a man called Max Minelli. He was a legend of his day.

"He was famous for making this coin vanish, but it was great theatre and I recreate it.

"I love that the whole audience go “Oooo”, pause and then clap.

"To shock is good,” said Paul who also runs an online fancy dress and magic shop, with a base in Wigan.

And like all true magicians, he doesn’t let anyone in on the secrets of his illusions — not even his trustee sidekick.

“I’ve never told anybody how my tricks work. My wife doesn’t know, even when she’s assisting.

"I don’t want to reveal my secrets. She doesn’t tell me everything,” he smiled.

“Getting paid for playing with my toys is the best thing about my job.

"I practice every day, mainly in my head. But I’m always going over things and imagining how things will go.

“My act is like a party. Don’t tell anyone but I’m really doing it for myself.”

And there’s no sign of Paul slowing down any time soon. So far this year he’s toured with his solo show in cities from Las Vegas to Cape Town and Hong Kong.

“I’m currently packing again now to go off to Zurich,” he said, clearly excited by his busy schedule.

“I’ve got a special case that comes on the flight with me.

“It doesn’t matter where I perform, magic unites the world. You don't need language.”

But the keen traveller, who lives on the River Thames in Berkshire, is quite excited about the prospect of 20 dates on home soil for the Best Of British Tour.

“It’s honestly one of the best shows I’ve ever been in involved in.

"I got a phone call one day and said yes immediately. I didn’t ask about the money. I knew it was going to be fun.

“We’ll be turning up an hour early so we can get together in the backstage green room, to make each other laugh first.”

And Paul promises it will be a good show.

"You'll like it," he said.

* BEST OF BRITISH VARIETY TOUR 2010 — Blackpool Opera House, August 13, and 20 and September 3. Tickets from 0844 856 1111.