Charlie Cairoli, circus genius

There are TV programmes that you admire more from the perspective of adulthood than you ever did as a child, for Ned and I there are two such TV programmes – The Sooty Show and anything with Charlie Cairoli in it.

Charlie Cairoli was a circus clown, a circus clown cut in the mould of Charlie Chaplin, shabby suit, bowler hat, red nose and a penchant for playing the clarinet and pouring water down the trousers of a poker faced assistant.

The tower circus in Blackpool was his home turf and he would present a circus show on TV from there most Bank Holiday Sunday afternoons which in turn led to several series of clown-based TV children’s shows, “Right Charlie”, you’d think there was a limit to the number of times that you can pour a bucket of water down the trousers of a poker faced assistant but apparently there isn’t for it remains funny even after several hundred repeats.

The secret of course is the poker faced assistant and Charlie Cairoli had the perfect one, or “the grimacer” as they are apparently known in circles of clowns, Charlie Cairoli’s grimacer was Jimmy Buchanan, a gaunt figure with a face of melted wax, the sort of face that a mother Bassett Hound would have greeted as one of her own, Jimmy Buchanan made a career out of standing on a stage or circus ring and saying nothing at all while Charlie Cairoli pulled open his trousers and poured a bucket of water down them, or alternatively pulling open his trousers and pouring a bucket of custard down them, then slapping the bulging pants afterwards making the custard squirt upwards into Jimmy Buchanan’s face – you’re in hysterics aren’t you, as well you should be.


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