The Big Top
This Is Your Life The Big Top feature
Billy Smart This Is Your Life Billy Smart This Is Your Life Billy SMART

31 December 1956

The circus owner and showman was surprised by Eamonn at London's King's Theatre, Hammersmith, after appearing as the mystery guest on What's My Line?
Billy - one of 23 children - is greeted by his own large family of 10 children - all of whom are involved in the circus.

  James Chipperfield This Is Your Life James CHIPPERFIELD

13 March 1961

James - a member of the famous circus family and an experienced animal trainer who supplied animals to film productions - was surprised by Eamonn in the audience at the BBC Television Theatre.
Jimmy's tribute includes his daughter and future This Is Your Life subject, Mary Chipperfield, as well as Bruno III the Bear and Sally the Elephant!

  Coco the Clown This Is Your Life COCO - Nicolai POLIAKOFF

15 January 1962

Coco the Clown was surprised by Eamonn while appearing with the Bertram Mills circus at London's Olympia. Born in Latvia, Nicolai Poliakoff created the moniker of Coco, and by the 1950s was probably the most famous clown in Britain. The show was broadcast from the BBC Television Theatre, where Coco welcomed his guests on a set styled as a circus ring.

  Charlie Cairoli This Is Your Life Charlie CAIROLI

25 February 1970

Eamonn surprised Charlie - who began his performing career at the age of 7 and whose long association with Blackpool's Tower Circus had made him the UK's most celebrated clown - while he was performing at London's Wembley Arena.
Among those paying tribute is fellow circus performer Coco the Clown and comedian Tommy Trinder.

Mary Chipperfield This Is Your Life Mary Chipperfield This Is Your Life Mary CHIPPERFIELD

2 March 1977

The animal trainer and circus entertainer was giving a talk on circus animals to children at a school in Teddington when Eamonn surprised her.
Mary specialises in a chimpanzee act, and her show includes appearances by Fred the chimp and Rosie the elephant, along with a tribute from the legendary Swiss circus director Fredy Knie.

Cyril Mills This Is Your Life Cyril Mills This Is Your Life Cyril MILLS

18 January 1989

Michael dressed as a ringmaster to surprise the owner of the Bertram Mills circus in a big top in Teddington. Bertram Mills established a circus in the 1920s, and Cyril and his brother Bernard took over the running following their father's death. Cyril's tribute reveals how he worked as an MI5 agent during the Second World War – something he was reluctant to discuss.

Norman Barrett This Is Your Life Norman Barrett This Is Your Life Norman BARRETT

31 October 1990

The team travelled to Blackpool so Michael could surprise Norman at the famous Tower Circus, in what was his last season there as Ringmaster. Norman is perhaps the most loved and best known circus personality in the UK, and this energetic edition brought together members of several circus families, and concluded with an emotional tribute from Cyril Bertram Mills.


* the pre-1970 subjects were surprised by a different coloured book - see the Big Red Book feature for full details