Harrogate magician set for comedy fest - and film stardom

Ali Cook.
Ali Cook.

By Graham Chalmers

An award-winning magician and comedian who learnt his trade as a youngster in Harrogate is returning to take part in Harrogate Comedy Festival.

Running from October 6 to October 19 at Harrogate Theatre, this year’s feast of laughs will see Ali Cook bring his latest show back to his hometown just as his movie career is really starting to take off.

A Silver Star associate member of the Inner Magic Circle and one of the stars of Penn and Teller: Fool us on ITV), the late-20-something Ali’s inventive and irreverent show tends to receive nightly standing ovations.

Metro has described him as “Jaw Dropping”, The Mail on Sunday called him “hugely impressive” and Chortle simply described his Edinburgh Fringe hit show as “awe-inspiring.”

As a result, this ex-pupil of Follifoot Primary School has an array of famous fans and has performed at private parties for Damien Hirst, JK Rowling, Minnie Driver and Basement Jaxx.

Although he is now one of the highest-paid magicians on the corporate circuit, too, the last time I talked to Ali in 2010 he told me his ambitions in the long-term lay in films.

A former pupil of St Peter’s and Harrogate Grammar School, Cook learned his craft at the Harrogate Society of Magicians aged just 15.

Ali said: “Keith Meddings, Brian Leslie and Joe Walsh were very helpful to me in particular. The emphasis was on sleight of hand tricks. Once you’ve done that you can virtually do all magic.”

He can’t have known then that 15 years later his dreams of movies would start to take shape in an impressive fashion. He is shortly to appear in forthcoming feature film, Get Lucky, which he has a writing credit on, where he he plays a main supporting role alongside Olivier award winner Luke Treadaway, James Cosmo (Braveheart) and Emily Atack (Inbetweeners).

He’s also recently written a comedy film, Cassandra at the Wedding with writer and sharp one-liner comedian Gary Delaney.

The film will star Emily Brown and is produced by Sam Taylor, Stephen Daldry and Mike Downey for F&ME Productions.

Talking to website indieLondon, Ali said: “I remember reading an interview with Michael Caine who felt the only way he could get better was to keep working. And that makes a lot of sense.

“I’ve never seen anyone in anything who is any good who doesn’t work hard. To be good at anything in this life, you have to keep working at it.”

It’s probably that dedicated ethos and a willingness to try anything which explains why next year will see the release of two more feature films featuring Ali, both released by Universal Pictures.

In comedy of errors Epic he plays a supporting role alongside MatthewMacfayden of Spooks fame and MyAnna Buring of Twilight.

His second film of next year finds Ali appearing alongside veteran actor Brian Cox in sci-fi film The Anomaly, directed and produced by Bafta award winner Noel Clarke.

And more roles are already in the pipeline. He’s just started filming a main role as the investigating officer in new crime thriller Peterman starring Alison Steadman and Phil Davis.

Phew! Ali’s rise is a serious piece of magic.

Ali Cook plays Harrogate Theatre on Monday, October 7.

For tickets, call 01423 502 116 or book online at www.harrogatetheatre.co.uk