MAKING a comeback after several years this autumn is much-loved Billy Smarts Circus.
Regarded as one of Europe's top circus shows, it is embarking on its first full tour of Great Britain for more than 30 years.
Among the places it is visiting will be Exeter. The circus will descend upon Alphington Roundabout from Tuesday, September 3, to Sunday, September 8.
To celebrate its return, the new show is brimming with a dazzling combination of theatre, music and dance. The performance will include an Australian flying trapeze act, Desiree's hand balancing act in which she fires a bow and arrow with her feet, acrobats, jugglers, breath-taking aerialists and even a fireman who works his routine on a flaming ladder. Tony Hopkins, from New World Circus, said: "There are no animals and quality and innovation are at the top of the agenda for this sensational company of performers.
"Billy Smart's Circus has always been ahead of its time and is probably the most famous name under the British big top.
"We have not tried to re-create the 'old' Smart's. It would be too big to tour in these times, and styles have changed. This is a modern, compact version, designed for 21st century audiences.
"It is an event you won't want to miss and a circus show that will be talked about for at least the rest of the year."
Billy Smart's New World Circus began in 1946 when the highly successful showman – known to his family and staff as The Guv'nor – bought a big top and added circus performances to his funfair as an 'extra attraction'.
The circus soon took precedence. Over the next 25 years, Billy Smart's Circus became a household name, touring under a massive 5,000 seat big top.
A television Tribute to Billy Smart made history as BBC TV's first-ever colour programme, and TV broadcasts continued as a Christmas tradition long after regular touring last ceased in 1971.
The circus as we know it was invented in London in 1768. Throughout its history, circus has always adapted and changed.
Tony added: "Billy Smart's Circus has changed, but to make this new version of our circus, we've kept two essential ingredients – quality to the very highest standard of performance, and magic, the true magic of the big top.
"And we've also kept to the principle of including fresh young artistes. This is a young company, a young show and a new generation of Billy Smart's Circus."
During its visit to Exeter, there will be two daily performances from Tuesday to Friday at 4.45pm and 7.30pm; three on Saturday at 2pm, 4.45pm and 7.30pm; and two on Sunday at 12.30pm and 3.30pm.
Tickets cost from £10. To book call 0844 415 5228 or visit www.billy-smarts-circus.co.uk