1 9 7 0 – 1 9 7 1 (UK)
39 x 45 minute episodes
Thames Television presented magician David Nixon in David Nixon’s Magic Box, with Anita Harris (pictured below right) as his regular guest and the legendary Ali Bongo as his magic advisor and assistant, Alistair.
Guest stars during the series included Les Dawson, Rolf Harris, Arthur Askey, Twiggy, Larry Grayson, Mary Hopkin, Jimmy Young, Clive Dunn, Aimi MacDonald, Roger Whittaker, Jack Douglas, Joe Lynch, Clodagh Rodgers and the singing group New World.
David Nixon was born in Muswell Hill, London, in 1919. By World War II he was already a member of the Magic Circle as well as playing double bass in a dance band.
During WWII, Nixon – like so many of his generation of British entertainers – served with ENSA (the Entertainments National Service Association), putting on shows for British troops.
He had tried to join up himself but the RAF rejected him due to health problems with his lungs and heart.
After the war, Nixon became a full-time entertainer and by the early 1950s was appearing on TV. The BBC programme that really sealed his fate was the gentle panel game What’s My Line? in which a group of celebrities had to guess the jobs of members of the public by asking them closed yes-or-no questions.
Nixon joined in 1954 and his charm and friendliness, coupled with his rich speaking voice, quickly proved to be perfect for the programme – even though there was no opportunity to showcase his magical skills.
He became so popular with the viewing public that the BBC offered him his own programme, called Home and Dry.
He was also one of the presenters of the programme It’s Magic! (which also featured Tommy Cooper) but his career stalled in 1956 when his second wife, Paula, was tragically killed in a car accident.
During the 1960s his career recovered and Nixon grew to be one of the best-known faces on British television.
He became a presenter on Candid Camera and hosted the BBC children’s TV series Now For Nixon in 1967.
Nixon switched to ITV in the 1970s for David Nixon’s Magic Box and its successor, The David Nixon Show.
Nixon was a splendid magician and the living embodiment of good manners and courtesy.
A heavy smoker, he was diagnosed with cancer in 1973 but continued to work throughout his treatment. He died on 1 December 1978.