Tuesday, 10 February 2015
86 Right Charlie
First watched : 1972
I sat in a bus shelter and marvelled at an advert for an afternoon performance by Charlie Cairoli . Surely not the same one who blighted my Easter Mondays with his sinister, unfunny routines on Billy Smart's Circus. He must be a hundred by now . ( Stuart Maconie, Pies And Prejudice ).
Charlie Cairoli would actually have been 96 had he still been alive at the time of Maconie's visit but he died back in 1980 so it must have been his son that was still performing.
Charlie was 62 when he got his own series having been a star turn on the Bank Holiday circus screenings mentioned above. I'm not sure quite what spooked Maconie , there's an element of sadism in all clowning and I can't see where Charlie upped the ante. The victim in his routines was a little Scottish guy called Jimmy Buchanan who mesmerised me with his long rubbery face and perpetually terrified expression.
Charlie had a colourful past. Born into a circus family in Italy in 1910, he first performed during World War One at the age of seven. His long association with Blackpool began in 1938 when the family were booked at the Tower Circus. That same year he was given a watch by an appreciative spectator at a performance in Munich , a certain Adolf Hitler. Charlie reportedly threw the watch off Blackpool's North Pier when war broke out but it didn't stop him being interned as an enemy alien on the Isle of Man. Charlie had already applied for French citizenship and when this was granted he was allowed to return to Blackpool where he did his bit entertaining the troops. He never left.
Charlie's TV series initially ran from 1972 to 1974 . A final series was made in 1976. Charlie finally retired from the circus in November 1979 through ill health and exhaustion. He died just a few months later. There's not much Charlie on You Tube and what there is doesn't come from the series so I'm guessing it's all been wiped and that Charlie will eventually fade from memory.