Ahead of his performance at the Wyvern, mind reader Alex McAleer chats to FLICKY HARRISON

All magicians have that Eureka moment when they simply know that magic is be their chosen career.

For mind reader Alex McAleer it was watching the dexterity of the late Paul Daniels and the stunts of David Blaine that inspired him to learn the art of reading body language, muscle control and other secret clues to the thoughts of others.

Alex structured his skills into a stand-up show, that is also heavily laced with wit, and on Sunday, April 9 he is heading for Swindon as one of the Champions of Magic.

After each show Alex enjoys meeting and greeting the younger members of the audience who have been inspired by his performance.

"I loved Paul Daniels he was brilliant. He marked the old cup and disappearing ball trick for himself. Then there was David Blaine's big stunts and the wow magic of Derren Brown with his brain technology,'' said Alex.

The magical mentalist also lectures in his home town at the University of Norwich, helping psychology and sociology students, but he says the most daunting is lecturing fellow magicians of the Magic Circle.

"Magicians are not a good audience they are always looking for the trick and analysing,'' said Alex.

Naturally the mind reader does not give any secrets away and will only say his skills are: "A bit like the kids' game of getting hot or cold.''

He first trod the boards in amateur dramatics so was used to being on stage.

"My first proper show was in the 20 minutes before the play when I put on a performance of mind reading - and it worked, '' he said.

In the Champions of Magic show Alex has his own slot alongside grand illusionists Young and Strange, the queen of close-up magic, Fay Presto, and stage magician of the year Edward Hilsum.

The current national tour follows a successful run in the West End.

"It's like being out with your best friends both magicians and crew,'' said Alex. "We all got on well from day one. It is one of the successes of the show, the variety of magic and all specialists in their field.''

The mind reader also performs his own show, but not on quite such a lavish scale.

"It is a one-man show, smaller production, more stand-up than Champions. It is light hearted, I try to get the audience relaxed and laughing, win them over with laughter always,'' he said.

Alex took his own show Down Under to Perth in Australia and was a big hit with the Aussies at the Fringe World Festival. He has also appeared on both the BBC and ITV.

"On stage and live you can take more time and accentuate the mind reading but on TV it is more direct, quick and visual,'' he said.

Alex's partner, Daisy Black, is a circus performer skilled in hooping, aerial work and ropes. They often work together as a double act and will be appearing in the Norfolk and Norwich Festival.

The couple live in Norwich with son Jack, a snake called Moriarty and two cats called Mycroft and Loki.

Tickets to see Alex and the other champions at the Wyvern Theatre in Swindon are £25 from 01793 524481 or www.swindontheatres.co.uk - Flicky Harrison