“The last of the great circus showmen”, Gerry Cottle, has passed away aged 75, after contracting Coronavirus.
The legendary impresario, whose 50-year career saw him host acts from Abba to the Chinese State Circus, died in hospital in Bath this month.
“RIP Gerry Cottle, the last of the great circus showmen,” stated agent Mark Borkowski. “In a fraction of a second the bastard virus ripped your life away.”
“I shall never forget all the mad adventures we shared.” Cottle, who ran away from his Surrey home to join the circus aged 15, worked in theatre, pantomime, light entertainment and variety before staging his first circus in Sturminster Newton in 1970.
Though he told The Telegraph in 2019 that this was “a terrible show,” its poor reception did not dim his enthusiasm, and he soon founded the touring Gerry Cottle Circus, which went on to host the BBC’s Seaside Special variety shows at Torre Abbey Meadows and Clennon Valley.
His circus soon became an iconic attraction in South Devon, and as well as pioneering animal-free viruses in the 1990s, Cottle expanded his empire to include Somerset’s Wookey Hole in 2003.
Contemporary circus organisation Jacksons Lane added that Cottle’s influence “will