The circus showman Gerry Cottle has died of Covid-19 on the age of 75. His agent, Mark Borkowski, introduced that Cottle had been in hospital in Tub after contracting the virus.
A dynamic champion of circus with a lifelong ardour for entertaining, Cottle toured his circus spectaculars across the UK and internationally for greater than three many years earlier than taking on Wookey Gap Caves in Somerset in 2003. There, he developed a number of in style customer points of interest alongside the limestone caves. The complicated has a clown museum, a fairy backyard, circus reveals and a circus college and three resident witches. He not too long ago staged a £1m magic present starring his daughter and granddaughter on the caves.
Cottle was born in Carshalton, Surrey. His father and grandfather labored within the Metropolis however, as he instructed the BBC’s Desert Island Discs in 1984, he was entranced by the circus from the age of eight when he noticed his first present at Earls Court docket. He determined early on that he needed to run a circus relatively than carry out: “I by no means needed to be the best juggler or trapeze artist – I needed to be the massive boss.” At 15, Cottle truly did run off to affix a circus, leaving a notice for his mother and father (“I’ve gone ceaselessly”), and realized the ropes with a handful of travelling troupes, making an attempt his hand at juggling and fire-eating. Over time he additionally labored in theatre, pantomime, mild leisure and selection.
He pitched his large prime across the UK below the banner Gerry Cottle’s Circus in addition to different guises and was featured on the BBC’s Seaside Particular programme. Cottle introduced conventional household reveals, with illusions and stunts, but in addition experimented with totally different waves of circus types together with the ghoulish, adults-only Circus of Horrors, unveiled at Glastonbury in 1995, and presenting the Moscow and Chinese language state circuses. At one stage, his reveals featured a bunch of ice-skating chimpanzees however he later lent his help to the ban on wild animals in circus.
Cottle had the over-the-top aptitude of an impresario. His productions included a double-barrelled human cannon, he travelled in a 55ft-long caravan with seven rooms and he bought a 75ft stretch Cadillac with a whirlpool bathtub. He celebrated 50 years within the enterprise with a 100-minute present filled with 50 acts.
Borkowski referred to as Cottle “the final of the nice circus showmen” and the variability star Mat Ricardo labelled him “a really good, enthusiastic dude”. Cottle, mentioned Ricardo, wasn’t fussed concerning the opposing camps of conventional and new circus however noticed all entertainers as a part of “the identical legacy and artform”. The up to date circus organisation Jacksons Lane tweeted that “his affect can be felt far into the long run”.
Cottle is survived by his spouse, Betty; three daughters and a son; seven grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.