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A synopsis of Jasper Maskelyne's TV appearances


29 January, 1937

As England’s preeminent magician in the 1930s, it was fitting that the BBC would turn to Jasper Maskelyne to appear on its TV programming, less than three months after it started regular broadcasts in November 1936. He headlined a one-off variety show called 'Magic, Mirth and Music.' It was transmitted, live from Alexandra Palace, on 29 January 1937. On the 25-minute programme, Jasper provided the magic, comedian Kenneth Blain the mirth, and Ord Hamilton, with his orchestra, supplied the music. 

While Jasper was the first British magician to broadcast on BBC television, he was pipped to the post as the first magician to appear on the BBC by American comedy magician Russell Swann. Swann performed a 15-minute spot on 20 January 1937, nine days before Jasper.

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20 and 22 December 1938 

In late 1938 Jasper returned to the BBC studios at Alexandra Palace to headline two live performances of a show called 'Christmas Cabaret'. The 45-minute special programme was broadcast live and no recording exists.

Also on the bill were musical clowns Noni and Partner, George Prentice (modern Punch and Judy), Bill Peterson and Buddy, singer Evelyn Hall, Afrique (an impressionist, and Charles Judge and Company (the band).



25 December, 1947

Ten years on from Jasper’s first TV appearance, he secured another booking with the BBC on Christmas Day 1947. At 8 pm, with families across the nation gathered around their small black and white television sets, the BBC broadcast a 45-minute segment of his 'Hey Presto' Christmas Magic show, live from London's Westminster Theatre.

It is likely the programme included Jasper’s main spot from the stage show, where he “allowed himself to be nailed through the wrists, before guillotining attractive young ladies, causing them to balance on a sword and introducing a mechanical man who writes at his master’s request.”⁠ (The Stage).

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In 1958, Jasper Maskelyne appeared in several cameo / bit part roles in 'African Patrol.' A 39-episode TV series, made in Kenya where Jasper was living, the programme relates the adventures of a Nairobi-based crime investigation team in the Kenya Police. The series was broadcast in the UK, America and some other countries.

Coincidentally, Jasper had worked for the Kenya Police in the early 1950s during the Mau Mau insurgency.

Watch an episode of African Patrol here (for free). Jasper is in the episode at 4min 10secs, playing 'Carl.'

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TV: Work
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