Roll up, roll up everybody

Angelo the clown will be appearing on Southsea Common with Billy Smart's Circus.
Angelo the clown will be appearing on Southsea Common with Billy Smart's Circus.
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Old-fashioned entertainment is making a comeback.

There’s been a huge increase in music hall, cabaret, vaudeville, burlesque, ventriloquism, magic and the like on television and in live venues.

And now circuses are back in fashion too.

Harking back to a time before Britain’s Got Talent put everything weird and wonderful on display in our living rooms, circuses celebrate acrobatic feats, unusual talents, illusion and comedy.

Their travelling big top stages promise spectacular sights and family fun wherever they visit.

One such troupe is Billy Smart’s Circus, which comes to Southsea Common over Easter.

At one time, Billy was one of the most famous names in British circuses.

Billy Smart’s New World Circus began in 1946 when the highly successful showman (known to his family and staff as ‘The Guv’nor’) bought a big top and added circus performances to his funfair as an extra attraction.

The circus soon took precedence and over the next 25 years, it became a household name, touring under a massive 5,000-seat big top.

A television ‘Tribute to Billy Smart’ made history as the BBC’s first-ever colour programme and TV broadcasts continued as a Christmas tradition – and at other special events – long after regular touring ceased in 1971.

It’s been 30 years since the circus last did a full tour of Great Britain.

Now, with circuses back in vogue, Billy Smart’s has returned.

The new show is still a traditional circus, but it’s been modernised with state-of-the-art lighting, sound, effects and music.

Acts include an Australian flying trapeze act, acrobats, jugglers, aerialists and a fireman who works his routine on a flaming ladder.

Audiences can also wonder at Desiree’s handbalancing act, in which she fires a bow and arrow with her feet.

It all takes place in a heated big top on Southsea Common with free parking from Thursday (March 28) until Sunday, April 7.

Ticket prices start at £10. Call 0844 415 5228 or visit for show times or to book.

· We’ve got 15 family tickets to give away. See The News next Saturday for competition details and a feature about life with the circus.