BBC One is bringing back magic to Saturday nights for the first time in nearly two decades.

The Magicians, set for broadcast early next year, will feature three of the most successful practitioners competing at a specially created set at Pinewood Studios.

Lenny Henry has been mooted as a possible host of the show, in which magicians will perform escapology, illusion or card tricks with new celebrity partners each week.

It has been 16 years since magic was a regular fixture on the BBC channel in the form of The Paul Daniels Magic Show, which attracted audiences of 12 million before it was axed in 1994.

In the new show, the studio audience will determine which of the three magicians, who are yet to be named, is victorious each week and the pair who receive the least applause will have to perform an “uncomfortable, dangerous or impossible forfeit”.

BBC controller of entertainment commissioning Mark Linsey said: “The Magicians is a bold, big scale entertainment show that will bring the best of the latest crop of amazing illusionists to a wide audience for the first time, in a head-to-head contest.

“It is family viewing at its best and we’re delighted to be bringing it to the BBC and to Saturday nights.”

Executive producer Karen Smith said: “The Magicians will astound, amaze and amuse. It will look like nothing seen before it.”

The Magicians will be produced by Shine TV, makers of BBC One hits Merlin and MasterChef.