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Big Top Variety Show (1979-82)


Warning: screenonline full synopses contain 'spoilers' which give away key plot points. Don't read on if you don't want to know the ending!

Edition broadcast on ITV, 18 August 1980

An announcer previews first the circus and then the variety acts as the titles roll over an overhead shot of the Showgirls. Compere Bernie Winters bids welcome and performs 'I Wanna Be There on the Opening Night', filmed from above.

Bernie introduces Schnorbitz with Lorraine Paul and, after some comedy, introduces the first novelty-musical act, The Wurzels singing 'You Don't Get Drunk on Saturday Night' followed by the first circus act, The Laner Brothers, essentially a Western act featuring whips, rope tricks/lassoos, trick cycling and knife throwing, accompanied by the Dallas TV theme tune . A filmed insert follows then Lorraine Paul, 'Bernie's Beauty', is interviewed by Bernie. The next act is the Krankies, a Scottish act whose main feature is Jimmy the naughty schoolboy, complete with short-trousered uniform, played by Janette, this time with partner Ian as a sad clown figure. The act shifts from comedy to pathos with Jimmy wondering - in song - what he'll do without his mother.

Part two. Bernie, Lorraine and Schnorbitz introduce, followed by the Trio Bogino, who combine trick cycling, juggling and tumbling. Bernie appears as Mr Bowler with outsize bowler hat, and Peter Hudson as his straight man and some comedy involving the Showgirls, who do another spot with dry ice effects. Bernie introduces Little John and partner from Denmark, who combine juggling and a balancing act.

Part three. Bernie and Schnorbitz 'talking' opens the third segment of the show, which features the headline act, Gladys Knight and the Pips. They give a highly polished performance of 'Come Back and Finish What You Started', 'Landlord and Keeper of Our Love' and 'Midnight Train to Georgia' . Bernie presents a bouquet to Gladys Knight before thanking all the acts, the Smart family and the dancers. The audience is encouraged to shout the name of the show and come back again as the end credits roll against an overhead shot with glitter falling.