Winnipeg magician Darcy Oake says he's planning "a very dangerous piece" for Saturday's finale of Britain's Got Talent as he competes for the top prize.
"The way we're doing it, it's risky — big time," the 26-year-old said this week in a telephone interview from London. "But I feel like each piece needs to be bigger than the last one, and this is kind of the only way to close out the show for me."
The son of Hockey Night in Canada broadcaster Scott Oake is one of 10 finalists vying for the prize of 250,000 British pounds (about C$456,000). Newly announced wild card contender Jon Clegg will also be competing during Saturday's live finale, which will see the voting public in the U.K. decide the winner.
- Winnipeg magician Darcy Oake in Britain's Got Talent finals
- Winnipeg magician Darcy Oake wows Britain's Got Talent
Oake wouldn't reveal what his final trick will be, noting "it's got to be a surprise," but he said it's a new presentation of something he's done a handful of times.
One of his most dangerous tricks has seen him suspended by his feet trying to get out of a straight jacket before a bear trap hanging from a burning rope above him becomes loose.
A specialist in sleight-of-hand and illusions, Oake said he knew he wanted to be a magician as a kid after his dad fooled him during a card-trick attempt.
"He got me to pick a card, I picked it, put it back in the pack, he shuffled the pack, pulled one out and said, 'This was your card,' and it was my card. I begged him to tell me how he did it for, like, a month and he wouldn't. And then I found out it was just a complete accident."
He first learned his craft from library books and practised at birthday parties before gradually moving on to bigger venues, headlining shows around Canada and the U.S., and on cruise ships around the world.
But he became "artistically unsatisfied" and wanted to take his act to the next level, and that's why he tried out for Britain's Got Talent (BGT), the hit talent show competition that has discovered the likes of singers Paul Potts and Susan Boyle.
His first performance — in which he pulled off jaw-dropping illusions with doves — wowed the audience as well as judges Simon Cowell, Amanda Holden, Alesha Dixon and David Walliams.
The YouTube clip of the performance has garnered more than 25 million views.
Cowell told him he's "the best magician" they've ever had on the show, called him a "star" and praised him for presenting magic in a non-corny way.
"I put a lot of effort into presenting in a non-cheesy way, and when Simon Cowell made those comments specifically saying it wasn't corny, that was a huge compliment for me," said Oake.
"There's definitely a stigma with being a magician. People immediately either assume you do kids' parties, or when you say 'magician' they immediately think 'musician' and they ask you what instrument you play. When you say you do magic, people are like, 'What? You're a weirdo."'
Oake has also brought a heartthrob element to the craft, baring his tattooed and chiselled chest in a new Heat magazine spread that labels him a "hot magician."
His BGT competition includes electric violinist Lettice Rowbotham, opera singer Lucy Kay and dance act Yanis Marshall, Arnaud and Mehdi.
He said he's looking at it as a competition against himself, not his competitors, and he's not sure what he would do with the prize money if he won.
"It's not about the money for me at all. It's about coming here and presenting the craft and the art form in a respectable way and in a way that's seen as something different."
Oake said he's waiting to see what will happen with the show before deciding his next move, but he figures he'll likely settle down in London for a while.
His goal is to make it to the level of famed illusionist David Copperfield, and though he would love to have a Las Vegas showcase, he's open to anything.
"I love being on the road, I love travelling around and seeing the world," said Oake. "It's just wherever the work takes me. I'm content as long as I'm working."