This year’s Britain’s Got Talent has been mercifully free of “surprisingly” good mawkish covers of 90’s pop songs delivered by unassuming members of the public, and pleasantly heavy on decent magical acts. Sadly, it’s now down to just one magical act, as bearded escapologist, Matt Johnson, was eliminated following a tense water torture escape that went slightly wrong, and Maddox Dixon’s illusionist act failed to impress the judges.
Johnson was doing well, but faltered at the last padlock after holding his breath for over two minutes. With paramedics ready to assist, he gestured for a pry bar and released himself from the box to cheers from the audience. Even if Johnson hadn’t slipped up during his performance, the judges were already torn on his occasionally disturbing brand of escapology.
Maddox Dixon secured himself a strong start in the competition with a well-received Rubik’s cube routine during the auditions, but a weak performance in the semi-finals and strong competition knocked him out of the running.
He started with some passable sleight-of-hand, moved on to an imaginary-card to box trick that failed to impress the judges, and ended with a levitation illusion that looked like the midpoint in a tutorial video. The whole routine was set to a Hans Zimmer track (please, leave Hans alone) and included a monologue so portentous I was convinced the act was self parody until the gimmicked Rubik’s cube came out. Even if Dixon had brought his A-game, he was unlikely to win against The D-Day Darlings, whose mix of military imagery and WW2-era nostalgia is catnip to BGT’s largely boomer audience.
Quick changers, Ellie and Jeki were also eliminated via a buzzer from Simon Cowell.
I admit, whenever I see a magician whip out a Rubik’s cube, my first response is invariably a weary sigh. Solving a Rubik’s cube is not impressive. Solving one fast is only impressive to nerds. Using one in a routine just screams “hey, check out my gimmicked cube!” Fortunately, Britain’s Got Talent contestant, Maddox Dixon, had a couple of interesting cube tricks that forced me to retract my world-weary sigh and replace it with a begrudging nod of approval.
The 31-year-old magician actually has the music industry to thank for his booming magic career. An instrumentalist for a number of major bands, Dixon picked up magic as a way to entertain the pop stars he found himself sharing changing rooms with. One of those pop stars turned out to be Chris Martin of Coldplay fame, who liked Dixon’s work enough that he had the part-time magician become a full-time magician and open for the band on their Head Full of Dreams US tour. If Dixon wasn’t on a path to magic stardom before he met Martin, opening for the third largest grossing music tour in human history probably helped.
At this point, you’re probably expecting me to say something mean about Coldplay, as is the fashion of the day. I will not. A Rush of Blood to the Head is a good album and I will fight anyone who says otherwise. They also have pretty good taste in magicians it seems.