Swings and Roundabouts: The Big Top

Swings and Roundabouts: The Big Top

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Production 01/06/1986


09min 56sec




Betacam SP



Digitised as part of the UTV Archive Partnership Project (ITV, Northern Ireland Screen and PRONI)


Department for Communities, ITV, Public Record Office of Northern Ireland, UTV Archive

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Barney and Jane are all set for another adventure. Meet people and animals performing all sorts of daring acts at Gerry Cottle’s Circus.

Jane ventures inside a big tent or ‘the big top’ as circus people would call it where she is introduced to some of the performers. Barney’s favourite is clearly a ringmaster. But what does the ringmaster do? What are his or her responsibilities? Ringmaster David tells us about his work and life with the circus and Jasmin demonstrates some of her horse exercises inside the ring. The duo also gets to meet the clown, watch acrobats rehearse their acts and eventually watch the big show.


Gerry Cottle’s Circus originally toured with a variety of animals including horses, zebras, elephants, lions, tigers, monkeys, and llamas.The 1980’s saw an increase in public opinion against animal acts. Cottle sold his last elephant and in 1993 had an animal free circus. 

The Northern Ireland Assembly previously suggested that it would follow the lead of the Republic of Ireland with regard to circus legislation. But the Assembly collapsed in January 2017 and is still in a period of suspension, so no progress has been made for animals in circuses.


Presented by Jane Cassidy

Features Gerry Cottle's Circus and its performers 


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