AWARD-winning magician and one of the few to rise successfully to the challenge on ITV’s Penn and Teller: Fool Us, Ali Cook now brings his awe-inspiring magic and amazing illusions to The Courtyard in Hereford If you saw Ali swap a duck’s head with a chicken’s on the Penn and Teller show, you won’t need persuading to buy your ticket to discover what else he’s got up his sleeve. If you didn’t catch it, here's your chance.

Ali, a Silver Star associate member of the Inner Magic Circle, is renowned for inventing original magic effects and pushing the boundaries of what is possible onstage.

Never content to construct an act and then perform it night after night – he does between 250 and 300 shows a year – Ali is constantly creating new tricks. “It’s the way to stop you getting bored,” he says. “If you stick with the same act it gets very slick, but as a general rule it’s best to keep changing it.

“In every show I’ll be doing a number of new tricks and then find out which get the best reactions.”

As a member of the Magic Circle, Ali’s lips are sealed on the how of his tricks, but does reveal that the duck/chicken swap is based on the oldest known trick in magic, dating back to 3,000BC. “In Hereford I’ll be doing a variation of it.”

He goes on to explain that it’s important with shock magic like this to amaze, adding that “at the same time it must be clear that it isn’t real.”

Ali is working on one new trick that involves borrowing someone’s shoe, which then vanishes only to reappear in a shoe box. “There are only seven rules that defy science,” he explains. “What changes are the objects, and I always try to find a trick that no one else is doing.

“People tend to think of magic as cheesey, but the truth is that they don’t often see a real magic show, and when they do they are genuinely impressed. There’s been a rise in magic’s popularity in recent years - it’s an unusual form of entertainment, after all.”

Ali Cook is at The Courtyard on June 18. To book, call the box office on 01432 340555 or visit Left: