They are calling him the Harry Houdini of the 21st Century, what with him being a master illusionist who uses modern-day technology as props to perform his tricks.

If you haven’t yet seen Jamie Allan, and can only imagine that must mean he presses a few buttons on his iPad to make something amazing happen, think again. What he actually does is more gob-smacking than that, tricks such as reaching “into” the screen of his iPad to pull something real out, say a rugby ball, for example.

If that doesn’t impress you, how about him making a £180,000 Robinson R22 helicopter vanish and reappear, live on stage during the maiden voyage of the Queen Mary II? Or making the new Mercedes Benz M Class appear from thin air at the car’s UK launch.

He is indeed one of those magicians who will leave you open-mouthed, his sleight-of-hand skills being so fine-tuned, you cannot fathom the logical explanation to what your brain and eyes have just witnessed.

And it’s no wonder Jamie is so good at what he does. He started becoming interested in magic when he was only about five years old. His mum and dad ran a cabaret club which Jamie spent a lot of time at – you could say it was almost like his “home”. He was so familiar with the club that when a magician who performed there made one of the regular punters levitate, Jamie was hooked.


“I knew there couldn’t be any ropes used or anything, because this place was effectively my home, and I knew the woman who the magician used because she was always in the club, so it fascinated me,” said Jamie, 38.

“My mum and dad were entertainers themselves and had worked with magicians. My dad knew how the trick worked and told me. I think understanding that fascinated me even further than seeing it done. I asked my dad for my first magic set and I was off.”

Somewhere along the way, Jamie realised using everyday modern objects in his acts, props people could identify with or were familiar with, hooked their interest further.

“I used to carry around this big television to all my shows,” he said. “I’d use standard stage manipulation, but integrate the TV into the act. By sleight of hand I made it look as if I was pulling something out of the screen.

“I found people were fascinated with technology.”

Now Jamie not only uses iPads, but phones, social media and all sorts.

“It’s funny, but kids will often think, ‘oh well, you have a special iPad’. It’s interesting how they will accept most things easily,” he said. “Adults, of course, know you can’t do things with technology in the way I do.”

Aside from the spectacular illusions at Jamie’s shows, which include the use of laser beams which somehow bend around the theatre, (Jamie has also used a laser beam to saw a woman in half), he says he thinks people enjoy the educational side of it.

“I do talk about the evolution of magic, and tell the audience about the great magicians who have been before and about their tricks. It is quite educational.”

One of these tricks – to be performed at the Palace Theatre, in Westcliff, when Jamie appears on March 23 – is one of the most dangerous magical illusions ever seen on stage.

It is his death-defying version of Harry Houdini’s water tank routine – the audience will see him shackled before being plunged into a glass water tank.

As the clock ticks, loudspeakers will amplify the sound of Jamie’s heart as he struggles to free himself before losing consciousness, adding one of many state-of-the art touches to Houdini’s masterpiece.

Jamie performed the show-stopping routine at three Yorkshire theatres in February and each time brought the audience to its feet in an instant standing ovation.

The stunt has been performed by only a handful of top illusionists since it was invented by the legendary Houdini in 1911.

But despite the danger, Jamie’s is a show for all the family, enjoyed by all ages.

“It’s very hard to say what our demographic is,” he says. “Our audience is made up of all sorts – families, or teenagers on dates, or old couples. Kids love it as much as the adults do.”

  • iMagician: The Evolution of Magic comes to the Palace Theatre, Westcliff, on Monday, March 23, at 7.30pm. Tickets, priced £20 (under-16s £16), are available from or by calling 01702 351135.