He's performed tricks for Hugh Jackman, Daniel Radcliffe and Catherine Zeta-Jones, but Ruislip conjurer Matt Stirling will return this month to his favourite local venue, The Beck, for a special one-off show to raise funds for an injured friend. James Cracknell finds out more.
A stuntman who does magic tricks, or a magician who does stunts? Matt Stirling doesn't like to distinguish.
He's been a professional in both for many years, enjoying a remarkable double-career which has seen him star in cameo roles for some of the worlds biggest movies - from Pirates of the Caribbean to James Bond - while also staging mind-boggling magic shows for audiences large and small.
So when the former Vyners School pupil heard last March about a friend from the stunt business who had suffered a broken neck in an accidentand was paralysed, Matt immediately started devising a new magic show that could be dedicated to him.
He told the Gazette: "I did a show in 2009 for David Holmes, who injured his spine doing a Harry Potter film, and as soon as I heard what happened to Jay Young I started thinking about putting another one together.
"Unlike David, Jay doesnt have the backing of Warner Bros to help him, so I have dedicated the whole show to him. He will be in the audience to watch it.
"Sadly he is paralysed from the neck down and is still in hospital in Salisbury, although he is due to come out soon. He's only 23.
"I have known him for three or four years and I have known his brother Lewis for 18 years, weve done pantomimes together. Jay was rehearsinga show in Windsor when it happened."
Matt, 39, said despite the obvious risks, major life-changing injuries such as Jays are actually very rare.
"David Holmes was the first major injury within the British Stunt Register for 10 years. You will always get cuts and bruises and the odd broken bonebut it is rare for injuries like this to happen.
"You take a calculated risk with each stunt and you are very well prepared, we rehearse as much as we can for it. It takes an average of four yearsto even get on the register.
"Fortunately I have not had anything much worse than 14 stitches in the head from as word fight. And I certainly don't get any injuries doing magic!"
In his show at The Beck Matt will incorporate a number of popular boardgames into his close-up tricks, which mix suggestion and hypnosis with traditional magic.
"I don't like the big illusions, I prefer the close-up stuff that David Blaine does, Matt explains. The audience can see it and experience it upclose and I love to see their reactions and the feedback I get.
"The show at The Beck will literally toy with people's minds. We are using games like Cluedo, Kerplunk, Mastermind, Guess Who.
"I like to link all of my tricks together and give them some sort ofpurpose. There is a big set-piece at the end but I cant reveal what it is.
"A few celebrities will be in the audience as well, Daniel Radcliffe likes to come to my shows. It will be a very fun evening!"
Toying with the Mind, with Matthew Stirling, is at The Beck Theatre,Grange Road, Hayes, on Sunday, January 22, at 7.30pm. Tickets s25. Allproceeds go to Jay Young. Call the box office on 020 8561 8371.