Chris North & Jill

Chris North with his first assistant Lynn. Image © The Stage Media Company Limited

Chris North was born in 1948 and moved to East Anglia at a young age.  While working at a holiday camp as a photographer in 1966 Chris started watching the magicians who were performing shows for the children.

He believed he could do a better job so started work on a semi-professional basis, initially performing for children but later doing shows for the adult audience too.

In the early 1970s he was joined by assistant Lynn and, under the guidance of Anglia Agent Chic Applin, they worked the holiday centres of the East Coast performing their very slick illusion act, with good magic and lots of audience participation.

Chris North & Jill toured the East Coast with their comedy illusion act. Image © The Stage Media Company Limited

In 1973 Jill Cullum replaced Lynn in the act and a year later they turned professional, and continued to work around the East Coast area.   Jill also had a local background, was born in Norwich in 1958, and before joining the act worked in a boutique and as a model.

In December 1975 the duo appointed, Ipswich based, Barry Dye as their personal manager and began to pick up more bookings around the country.

Their initial break came through the Wheel Tappers and Shunters Club, and a recording date for the show was all set when Chris and Jill were accepted to appear on New Faces. With the New Faces show recording scheduled before the forthcoming Wheel Tappers and Shunters Club, they were cleared to confirm both shows.

The magic pair were runners-up on their New Faces show, in April 1976, with 114 marks out of 120, a fantastic achievement for a speciality act. When Pat Tansey, the New Faces show winner, was disqualified after it was revealed he had previously appeared on Opportunity Knocks, Chris and Jill were announced as the show winners and booked their place in the All Winners Final on 15 May 1976.

Chris North & Jill after performing on the All Winners Final on 15 May 1976. Image ATV broadcast

They faced some tough competition on that All Winners Show and while they scored a respectable 308 points they couldn’t beat comedian Johnny Hammond and Viewers Panel winner, the young group Our Kid.

On  the judging panel was TV producer Johnny Hamp, who was responsible for their Wheel Tappers and Shunters appearance and he explained that only having three minutes for a magic act was difficult and that they had around fourteen minutes for their act on his show and had been able to include some audience participation, which had been well received.

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Chris North and Jill – Winners of the 1976/77 ‘Club Mirror’ National Club Acts Award – Novelty Section. Image © The Stage Media Company Limited

Following their exposure in the New Faces All Winners Show they were invited back to the Wheel Tappers and Shunters in June 1976 and they were invited to appear on New Faces again in the first show of series five along with six other returning acts who had done so well in series four.

In December 1976 they presented their own two hour magic spectacular at the Ipswich Arts Theatre, and recorded an appearance on Scottish TV’s The Jones Boy.

In 1976/77 they were awarded the ‘Club Mirror’ National Club Award for the top speciality act in Britain, which was presented to them at a star-studded evening held at the famous Golden Garter, Manchester.

In 1977 they were asked to appear at the Blackpool Magician’s Convention to demonstrate a brand new illusion in front of 600 fellow magicians. This received great acclaim from the magic press and the illusion, named the ‘Invisible Ray’, was featured on BBC’s Pebble Mill at One.

In 1979 Chris North & Jill joined the maiden cruise of the P&O Sea Princess, based in Australia. Image © The Stage Media Company Limited

1977 also saw them perform in Cleethorpes on the Tony Christie Show, Jollees, Lakeside and many other clubs, all interspersed with various hotel performances. They spent the 1976 Christmas period cruising on P&O’s Canberra liner, and they picked up a contract to appear on the Canberra for most of 1978, but returned to the UK in the summer for shows and concerts, including the Frankie Howerd Show at the Playhouse Theatre, Weston-super-Mare.

Chris and Jill returned from their tour of the world on various cruise ships and married in Lowestoft in July 1979, where the bride wore a Mexican style dress.

In 1980 it was back to crusing with their third and longest spell on P&O’s Sea Princess cruise, which took them to many exotic places, including Hong Kong, Singapore, Djakarta, Suva, Guam, Penang and Bali. After spending long periods of time away from home the pair decided present their comedy and illusion act in a summer season show in June 1980.

Performing the sword through the box trick on 3-2-1. Image: Yorkshire TV Broadcast

In March 1981 the duo appeared on the TV quiz show 3-2-1 where they performed an illusion where Jill climbed inside a small box and Chris thrust a dozen of so swords into the box to reveal Jill unharmed at the end.  You can see this performance on You Tube.  In October 1981 they enjoyed a five-week nationwide tour alongside comedy duo Cannon and Ball.

In 1984 Chris and Jill joined another of Barry Dye’s discoveries, a young comedian going by the name of Shane Richie, in a summer show in Jersey. This would be their last season together and before the season finished they had parted company and Chris had a new assistant, Nicola Butterfield joining him on stage. Chris and Nicola would marry the following year.

Chris is still performing today and his in Amazing Mysteries show, he has yet another assistant as he performs a Victorian themed magic show accompanied by his current wife Belinda, who he married in 2003.