Search

Celebrated Islington magician is star of lockdown documentary

PUBLISHED: 16:06 15 July 2020 | UPDATED: 09:26 16 July 2020

Fay Presto is the star of a documentary made during lockdown. Picture: Shine a Light Productions

Fay Presto is the star of a documentary made during lockdown. Picture: Shine a Light Productions

Archant

A documentary will throw the spotlight on a celebrated Islington magician and her charity work during the coronavirus crisis.

Fay Presto has performed for the Royal family, including Princess Diana. Picture: Fay PrestoFay Presto has performed for the Royal family, including Princess Diana. Picture: Fay Presto

Letitia Winter, professionally known as Fay Presto, has spent the coronavirus lockdown delivering medication to help Caledonian Pharmacy and Carters Chemist, and PPE made by volunteer manufacturers Visor Army and Scrub Hub.

She used a litter-picker to maintain a safe distance, travelling around London and as far as Luton with her deliveries.

“I am an addict, and I am hooked onto a dangerous drug,” said Letitia, lightheartedly. “It’s a terrible drug to be addicted to. It’s applause.

“At the beginning of March the government turned off access to my drug. So I was in a position where I had nothing to do and then I found three places where I could make myself useful.”

Fay Presto with former Prime Minister Tony Blair. Picture: Fay PrestoFay Presto with former Prime Minister Tony Blair. Picture: Fay Presto

Letitia shares a balcony with her neighbour, who happens to be the director of Shine a Light Productions, Ben Garfield.

Despite having lived there her entire life - 70 years and 24 months, she jokes - and Ben having lived there for more than two years, the two had never met.

They became friends when Letitia asked for Ben’s help to broadcast an online show to the Chicago Magic Lounge.

You may also want to watch:

He has now produced a short documentary about Letitia and her work during the coronavirus lockdown.

READ MORE: Magicians performing at The Magic Circle in Euston

READ MORE: Mayor of Islington urges community to support her chosen charities during pandemic

“It was really good fun,” Ben said. “The timing could not have been more perfect because I was getting itchy feet. The first few days of lockdown it was nice to have that time but I had started looking for something to do, and then your neighbour turns out to be such an interesting and nice person.

“She’s very generous in so many ways, in terms of the contribution she made in her own time to my project, but also the generosity she does with the community.”

Producer Katie O’Mahoney, of O’Mahoney Films, added: “She’s just a great character, and what is wonderful is her idea of magic is addressing people directly.”

Fay Presto is the stage name of Letitia Winter. Picture: Fay PrestoFay Presto is the stage name of Letitia Winter. Picture: Fay Presto

The documentary taps into Letitia’s magic career, which she picked up in her mid-30s after working as a motorcycle messenger in the 1980s.

Letitia said: “It was the most miserable thing to do, in winter it was wet and cold with snow on your cap, driving around, and it was extremely dangerous, we lost almost a rider a year.”

Navigating the “misogynist” world of magic in the 1980s, Fay worked hard to get a foot in the door of the industry, performing at her first paid-party at Eric Clapton’s 40th birthday.

Since then, she has performed around the world and entertained celebrities such as Cliff Richard, Joanna Lumley, Dusty Springfield, Tom Hanks, and various members of the Royal family, including Princess Diana.

Her ‘bottle through the table’ trick was ranked 37th in Channel 4’s 50 Greatest Magic Tricks list.

“My job is making people think they saw what they saw and making them believe it,” Letitia added.


If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Islington Gazette. Click the link in the orange box above for details.

Become a supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Latest from the Islington Gazette