A comedy stage hypnotist who, as a child magician suffered crippling stage fright in front of an audience of brownies, brings his show to his adopted home town next week.

Inspired by his hero Paul Daniels, Robert Temple – who grew up in Sunderland – started practising magic when he was only six-years-old. By the age of 14 he had been named the UK’s best young close up magician and was a finalist in the Magic Circle’s Young Magician of the Year competition.

But then he discovered hypnotism and decided it, rather than magic, would fulfil his dream of starring on stage.

That ambition, however, had got off to a decidedly shaky start when he was a painfully shy eight-year-old performing magic for an audience for the first time.

“It was in front of a troop of brownies run by my step-mother’s friend.  I was so terrified I couldn’t speak so I stood silently and performed the tricks, while my step-mum did all the words,” said Robert, who is now 30 and lives on Newcastle’s Quayside.

He overcame nerves a very long time ago and today many of his shows are aimed at an audience of adults rather than brownies. However, next Friday’s production at the Tyne Theatre and Opera House is the squeaky clean version of “The Hypnotist – Live!” show and definitely suitable for all the family. Robert takes his so-called “naughty show” on a 17-date national tour next year.

At the age of 16, and after studying stage hypnotism for two years, he contacted all the pubs in the North East who put on entertainment.  Only two responded – the Brandling Villa in South Gosforth and Bay Horse in Whickham. Robert’s free performances went down a storm. Another show followed at the famous Wibbley Wobbley boat in London and by the age of 18 he was embarking on four seasons on the Greek islands of Kos and Corfu, notching up more than 1000 shows and gaining something of a reputation.

“When I went there it was just me and an Elvis and Chubby Brown impersonators.  By the end of my fourth year they’d left and I was the only entertainer who had survived – so I acquired something of a celebrity status,” he said.

Back in the UK he moved to Newcastle, began performing in pubs and clubs and in front of the new students at Sunderland University.  His Freshers’ show there has become something of an institution and influenced the style and content of his new show.

Paul Daniels, however, remains his inspiration even though magic for Robert is now just a hobby.

“We’d talk at magic conventions and I would e-mail him and he would reply.  He didn’t ever come to the North without me seeing his show. Watching him perform was like attending a master class for anybody wanting to be involved in comedy entertainment,” he said.

But at some point when Robert was a teenager, magic lost its magic.  “When somebody shows you a card trick you think it’s clever, but you know it’s a trick.  With hypnosis there’s this air of mysticism.  That’s one of the reasons why people come to my shows, but it’s just the starting point for the entertainment.

Robert Temple’s “The Hypnotist – Live!” show starts at 8pm on Friday 10 November at The Tyne Theatre and Opera House. Robert starts his national tour at the Westlands Entertainment Centre in Yeovil on 16 April.  Details of all the dates can be found on his website https://roberttemplehypnotist.com/

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