A MAGICIAN who once performed before the nation as part of Britain's Got Talent is set to take part in a UK-wide competition.

Martin Gardiner - known to his fans as 'Magic Martin' - has won the south west heat of the Family Entertainer of the Year 2017 competition.

The former Verwood schoolboy is now on his way to the final, which will take place in Blackpool at the weekend.

Martin, 32, will compete against six other acts at the town's magic convention in hopes of claiming the coveted top spot.

He will have to show his best tricks within a 15-minute time limit to impress the judges.

Hundreds of children and 5,000 magicians will be in the audience as Martin does his best to impress during the four-day event at the Blackpool Winter Gardens.

Martin, who attended Verwood First School, Emmanuel and Ferndown Upper School, will be judged on his showmanship, originality, skill, magical content and entertainment value.

He said he was "over the moon" at making it so far in the competition.

"It is a real honour to be chosen to take part this year, but it is also a great achievement as I have been working as a magician and entertainer for 15 years and have always dreamt of taking part in the Blackpool competition," he said.

"Each act that will take part in the final next week is at the top of their game.

"To perform in the Blackpool Opera House Theatre in front of many of my peers who I admire will definitely be one of the highlights of my career."

In 2012, Martin took part in Britain's Got Talent and performed on stage at the Apollo Theatre in front of an audience of 4,000, as well as judges Simon Cowell, David Walliams and Alicia Dixon.

He made it to the final 80 contestants at boot camp before having to bow out due to contractual agreements.