HE’S now one of the most recognisable faces in the country - but half-a-century ago he was a humble, if talented, squaddie.

A rare photograph of Paul Daniels in action long before he became a star has been unearthed and has now gone on show.

It has been donated to the Green Howards’ regimental museum in Richmond by a man who was a fellow National Serviceman way back in the 1950s.

When he was called up the budding magician served with 1st Battalion the Green Howards and he was sent on active duty to Hong Kong in 1958.

There he met Michael Smethurst, who recently visited the museum to hand over a black-and-white picture of the magician performing for troops at a social event 50 years ago in the corporals’ mess at Whitfield Barracks in Kowloon.

Paul Daniels was a regular entertainer in Hong Kong, where he performed for both British and American troops stationed on the island.

Mr Smethurst, who served in Hong Kong with the Royal Signals, is in the background of the picture he has donated, and he also presented a number of other items, including a letter from the magician inviting him to a show at Sunderland in 1985 and a programme from the show.

The photograph, letter and programme have gone on display at the museum as part of the exhibition Front Line to Fame, which tells the stories of some of the Green Howards who went on to become big names in a variety of fields.

Museum director Lynda Powell said: "It’s really good to have this unusual picture of one of our famous Green Howards– especially as he’s performing one of his tricks."