An amazing show for the 21st Century featuring a whole hosts of world class Circus acts from around the globe, including the 6 Big Top Beauties flying high on the aerial silks, the somersaulting, spiraling & supreme 10 African Acrobats, International Illusionists the Magical Melvilles, and comedy capers from Cottle’s Crazy Comics to name a few. All this is infused with a visionary new wave of remarkably talented Circus Kids who have been trained at Gerry Cottle’s pioneering training school in Wookey Hole, Somerset.
The new look Gerry Cottle’s Circus is a truly outstanding production for all ages…the BIG ONE really is BACK!
The Circus King himself Gerry Cottle comments: ‘I am so pleased to be back and show people everywhere the joy and magic of great Circus. For the same price as a cinema ticket I guarantee you will see some of the greatest acts from around the world, and witness incredible live entertainment at its very best. This is without a doubt my greatest show yet’.
Gerry Cottle Circus is synonymous with family entertainment and became the most travelled Circus in the world with tours as far afield as Hong Kong, Oman, South America, Iceland, Singapore and the Middle East.
Don’t miss this chance to witness Circus at its very best; all at unbelievable prices starting at just £7 per person.
Gerry Cottle: Showman Supreme
2012 marks fifty years from the time that the young Gerry Cottle ran away from his solid middle class family to find fame and fortune in the circus. His initial love of the circus began after a visit to Jack Hilton’s Circus at Earl’s Court at the age of eight. Less than seven years later he left a note telling his parents ‘please do not under any circumstances try to find me. I have gone,’
His early apprenticeship was served at the Roberts Brothers’ Circus where he trained as a fledgling juggler, and in the following year, 1962, during his time with Joe Gandey, he learned all aspects of the business. Working from the group up, his training included tenting, juggling, clowning, and grooming, a time he later admitted was the foundation for his later success.
Gerry Cottle’s Circus: a household name
Over the next eight years he appeared in numerous shows working as a juggler where he was billed as Gerry Melville the Teenage Juggler and later with James Roberts Circus as the Melvilles which combined roller-balancing and juggling. In 1968 he married Betty Fossett, youngest daughter of circus showman Jim Fossett, and appeared in pantomime with his new wife in Leicester that year.
In 1970 he made the decision that owning and operating a circus was his real talent, thus embarking on a journey that would result in Gerry Cottle’s Circus becoming a household name. It was only a few years after many of the major touring shows presented by Mills, Smart and others had fallen by the wayside and it was a remarkable decision for Cottle and his partner Brian Austen to take a circus on the road at this time of declining fortunes. After four years together Cottle and Austen dissolved their partnership, and Gerry Cottle’s Circus was born.
Success for Cottle’s Circus
The mid 1970s onwards saw a period of massive growth and success for Cottle’s Circus. Using a mixture of canny marketing, an eye for stunts and publicity and sheer showmanship, Cottle was running two shows by 1976, including a special season in the Gulf States. Over the years the many incarnations of his shows have included Gerry Cottle’s Circus, Cottle and Austen’s Circus on Ice, Cottle and Austen’s “London Festival” Circus, Gerry Cottle’s New Circus, and, with Brian Austen again, the Moscow State Circus and the Chinese State Circus. Alongside this Cottle was part of the hugely successful Seaside Special, which was essentially a variety show held in a big top by the seaside and ran from 1975-79.
Faced by a growing boycott of animal acts by local authorities in the early 1980s, and despite winning his case against Edinburgh Council, by 1993 he had sold his last elephant and toured with a non-animal show. In the mid-1990s, once again in partnership with Brian Austen, Cottle created the European Entertainment Corporation, initially to promote the Moscow State Circus, and later the Chinese State Circus and the Cottle & Austen Circus.
Cottle’s most radical departure was the opening of the edgy, hard core Circus of Horrors at Glastonbury in 1995, which was heavily influenced by the French circus Archaos which had toured the UK between 1989 and 1991. In 2003 Gerry Cottle retired from the travelling entertainment world and purchased Wookey Hole in Somerset which he transformed into a mixed entertainment complex including a circus museum, daily circus shows and a range of additional attractions.
High powered stunts and sheer showmanship
Cottle’s unique achievement was in bridging the gap between animal and non-animal performance and incorporating the elements of French New Circus into his contemporary circus shows. From Cottle and Austen to Circus of Horrors, his shows combined old-fashioned showmanship and promotional skills with high-quality acts that moved with the times. Through skilful use of television, high powered stunts and sheer showmanship, he made Gerry Cottle’s Circus arguably the most famous circus in Britain at that time. Playing venues as diverse as the Roundhouse, Wembley and Glastonbury Festival, his circus shows bridged the gap between the traditional family audience and the modern rock-and-roll adult show.
50 years in the business
His decision to celebrate his fifty years in the business by touring Gerry Cottle’s Circus: 50 Acts in 100 Minutes, demonstrates that his love for the circus is as true as it was in 1962 when he first made those fledgling steps to be part of a business which he truly made his own.