Amanda Holden in BIG TOP for BBC One

by Lisa McGarry


Big Top is a colourful, upbeat comedy series for BBC One from Big Bear Films set in and around a travelling circus.

Amanda Holden (Wild At Heart, Cutting It, Britain’s Got Talent), John Thomson (Cold Feet, The Fast Show), Sophie Thompson (EastEnders, A Room With A View), Ruth Madoc (Hi-de-Hi!, Little Britain), Bruce Mackinnon (The Office, The Catherine Tate Show) and Tony Robinson (Time Team, Blackadder) star as the performers and backstage staff who make up Circus Maestro.

Each week a story is unfolded, erected, performed and taken down just like the Big Top itself. Our circus is fraught with problems which the Ringmistress Lizzie must overcome.

What do you do when you’ve advertised a death-defying stunt which everyone has bought tickets to see, and the performer is just that little bit too injured? How do you manage a group of people who are so jealous of each other that they are happy to sabotage their colleagues’ performances; or so dedicated as performers that they are willing to sabotage their own survival? When the star acrobat is being chased by immigration, how do you hold on to him?

Our characters clash with a cacophony of egos and Lizzie must keep the whole thing going… somehow…

Amanda Holden plays Lizzie the Ring Mistress; John Thomson as Geoff and Sophie Thompson as Helen are the clown husband-and-wife team, Plinky and Plonky (although he hasn’t a funny bone in his body); Tony Robinson is Erasmus, the cynical soundman; Ruth Madoc plays Georgie, the Grande Dame of Circus Maestro; and Bruce Mackinnon plays Boyco, the dazzlingly talented East European acrobat who is incredibly naive about the ways of the English world.

Big Top was filmed in front of a live studio audience and on location in and around London.

It is written by Daniel Peak (I’m With Stupid, Not Going Out), directed by Geoff Posner (Little Britain, Dinnerladies) and co-produced by Marcus Mortimer (Jonathan Creek, My Hero) and John Stroud (The Hairy Bikers’ Cookbook, My Hero).

Big Top was commissioned by BBC One Controller Jay Hunt and former BBC Controller of Comedy Commissioning Lucy Lumsden for BBC One.

The executive producers are Jed Leventhall for Big Bear and Simon Wilson for the BBC.

Jay Hunt says: “Big Top is a heart-warming family comedy with real potential to capture the imagination of the BBC One audience. I am delighted it will be part of the new raft of comedies on the channel.”