Leeds Candour Production's filmmaker is a former detective and major TV magician

Ashley Turner really may not have existed without magic - it saved his grandfather from the bombs.

Certainly, his move from bobby on the beat to Leeds-based documentary maker could never have been so simple without it.

Mr Turner's interest in magic and policing came from his grandfathers - one was a touring illusionist, the other a detective sergeant, a rank his grandson would one day hold himself.

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His paternal grandfather, Joseph Turner, was spared the fates of many First World War soldiers after his skills in sleight of hand were discovered.

Ashley Turner in Farsley. Picture: Gary Longbottom.Ashley Turner in Farsley. Picture: Gary Longbottom.
Ashley Turner in Farsley. Picture: Gary Longbottom.

Mr Turner, 39, of Farsley, said: "He was frontline cannon fodder. He was pulled off the frontline because he could entertain the troops.

"In a way, magic is the only reason my family exists."

Joseph set up a magic show in Ireland, where he met Catherine Turner, his wife and assistant - "the floating lady" - then moved to Nottingham.

His maternal grandfather, Dennis Hoskins, however, was a "true detective" who dealt in serious crime at Nottinghamshire Police.

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Ashley Turner as The Trixta in School of Hard Tricks. Picture: Candour Productions.Ashley Turner as The Trixta in School of Hard Tricks. Picture: Candour Productions.
Ashley Turner as The Trixta in School of Hard Tricks. Picture: Candour Productions.

Mr Turner said: "I stumbled across magic when I was 17 or 18. I started doing a few tricks and it got great reactions."

This came in use during his own career at Northamptonshire Police, where he took up roles in child protection and covert intelligence.

He found that using magic would help to break down barriers with young people on a particular estate.

"They'd not see you as a police officer, see you as a bit cooler," he said.

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Out of the blue, ITV was looking for members of emergency teams who had side skills to appear on A Night for the Emergency Services, a TV special starring Michael Ball, Ashley Banjo and Alfie Boe in 2017.

This gave him eight minutes of prime time television during which to show his talents with his routine the Mind Reading Detective, which can still be viewed on YouTube.

Soon after, Mr Turner was one of six chosen from thousands of applicants to a scheme aimed at connecting people with investigative experience to Channel 4's Dispatches.

Through this he was employed as an assistant producer at Candour Productions - formerly True Vision Yorkshire - a Farsley-based documentary production company making hard-hitting films, and Mr Turner moved with his wife Sarah to Leeds.

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As well as making documentaries such as the acclaimed Britain's Child Drug Runners, he has been able to combine his passions for magic, filmmaking and creating changes to society.

Initially pitched at Sheffield Doc Fest last year, School of Hard Tricks was released on BBC Three in April.

The series is about disenfranchised youngsters from Bradford being brought together to learn magic in just three weeks and performing a show at the Alhambra.

Mr Turner believes he can make a wider impact by making television than in policing.

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"If you want people to sit up and take note, how about making a film that two million people watch?" he said.

Currently furloughed because of Covid-19, Mr Turner is using the time to develop his camera skills and develop more of his own ideas.

He said: "I don't have any regrets whatsoever."

For more information about Mr Turner's life as a magician, visit www.thetrixta.com.