LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, BOYS AND GIRLS... welcome to the big top blog of Douglas McPherson, author of CIRCUS MANIA, the book described by Gerry Cottle as "A passionate and up-to-date look at the circus and its people."

Monday, 22 September 2014

Mr Fips Wonder Circus

Horses and sawdust
Mr Fips presents circus
as circus should be

According to Zippos ringmaster Norman Barratt, you're never too young, too old or too cool to go to the circus. That's the difference, I guess, between circus and cirque - where'd you probably have to be quite old and cool to appreciate the mix of gymnastics, dance, mime and abstract theatre.

Circus meanwhile was 'immersive theatre' before the term was trendy. In the big top you enter a magical world of sights, sounds, touch - the feel of grass beneath your feet - and even smells, from popcorn and hotdogs to horses.

Yes, horses. For me, I'm afraid, a night in the big top would no longer be worth a trip without a few animals to keep the circus atmosphere different from every other kind of entertainment. So I'm pleased to say Mr Fips Wonder Circus delivers Andalusian horses and Shetland ponies alongside the contortionist, high wire walker and that childhood crowd-pleaser... a clown car!

Mr Fips' clown car
No circus should leave home without one
According to ringmaster Jan Erik Brenner, also known as Mr Fips the Clown, “We’re trying to make circus more traditional. We want more colour and spectacle, the way it should be seen through a child’s eyes. It’s magical, a whole circus experience and very visually pleasing.

The Fips big top
“We’re trying to bring back the romanticised side of circus – a lot of shows have lost their individuality and we’re trying to bring that back.”

"I love this book!"
- Reader review
What's life like for those who run away with the circus? From front row to backstage, read my journey through Britain's big tops - Circus Mania - "A brilliant account of a vanishing art form," - the Mail on Sunday.


  1. Hi Douglas! Are you referring to 'cirque' as an abbreviation of Cirque Du Soleil? The word 'cirque' itself is, as you know, only the French word for 'circus', so a show that uses that word in its title/company name can be as accessible as one that doesn't (and vice versa in fact!)

    One thing CdS do well in my mind is spectacle, and I think that can be appreciated regardless of age. But you probably have to be making a lot of money before you can afford the tickets! I haven't seen them in over 10 years, so looking forward to catching Kooza next year now I know more about the circus world...

    1. I was using cirque more in the sense of Soleil-inspired contemporary circus. I agree I've seen some very accessible shows with cirque in the title - Cirque de Glace and Cirque de Ciel, but I didn't see many children or families in the audience, whereas at Peter Jolly's Circus, for example, the tiniest kids seemed enthralled by the animals. I look forward to your review of Kooza.

  2. Maybe we should try and go together! Might make for some interesting discussion ;)