Debbie McGee hopes magician nephew will continue Paul Daniels' 'legacy' on Britain's Got Talent


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Debbie McGee said she hopes that the "legacy" of her late husband Paul Daniels will be continued in their nephew, who has auditioned as a magician for this year's Britain's Got Talent series.

James Phelan, 23, will follow in the footsteps of Paul, who died in March from a brain tumour, as he shows off his sleight of hand in the talent competition - and he'll have a personal cheerleader in the form of Debbie.

She explained: "As his Uncle Paul got ill, James applied for Britain's Got Talent.

"He'd never been on the stage, he's very brave, and he didn't have any help from myself or Paul because Paul was too ill and I was nursing him. We'd just have phone calls - he'd say, 'Don't worry, Aunty Deb, I've come up with this idea, it's going to be great.'

"Paul would be so proud. It would be fantastic if he won."

Debbie, who was the popular magician's assistant and then wife of 28 years, revealed Paul had been impressed with James since a young age when he showed off a cheeky entrepreneurial side.

Debbie McGee and Paul Daniels
Paul and Debbie were married for 28 years (Ian West/PA)

"When he was about 9 or 10 he'd come over for Sunday lunch and bring a Paul Daniels' second-hand magic set or book and get us to sign them.

"One day Paul said: 'James where are you getting these from?' and he said, 'I'm buying them on eBay, I get you to sign them and then I put them back on!"

Attending the Good Morning Britain Health Star Awards, she praised the "amazing" doctors and nurses who helped Paul through his final weeks.

Speaking about her support of the awards, she said: "So recently I've had to rely on the NHS and I've had such a good experience that I think it's lovely to reward people that do a job they're committed to without getting the praise they actually deserve.

(Matthew Fearn/PA)
Debbie said there will be a tribute to Paul "in time" (Matthew Fearn/PA)

"He was in hospital for two weeks but either side of the hospital stay our GP surgery and district nurses were amazing. They've supported me and continued that after Paul has died and phoned and checked I was OK, which is just fantastic."

She said she was "letting myself take each day" as she struggled with her grief.

"It's not easy, all my friends say I've always been the most positive person they've met and I've always been a person who counts their blessings so although I do get sad and I'm not very good at being in the house on my own, I'm trying to keep busy and have family stay.

"I'm just letting myself take each day. If I get to a point where I feel I need grief counselling, I won't hesitate to pick up the phone but at the moment, I'm just coping."

Asked if a tribute is planned to the entertainer similar to the star-studded one for Cilla Black, Debbie replied: "In time. We need to get through the next six months and then I think I'll be strong enough to think about things like that and get involved in things."