Circus wars! Rivals use ‘every trick in the book’ to outdo each other after show clash

PUBLISHED: 17:57 06 October 2015 | UPDATED: 18:23 06 October 2015

Circus big top. Picture: Johnny Green/PA

Circus big top. Picture: Johnny Green/PA


Rival circuses are accusing each other of using “every trick in the book” to drum up publicity for their own event after rolling into town at the same time.

Santus Circus will be in Collier Row next week for a four-night stint and, coincidentally, Circus Fantasia will be at Barkingside for five nights at the same time.

Both say the “unfortunate clash” is an inevitability in the circus industry – along with the attempts to outdo each other that follow.

Santus owner Ernest Santus, 64, has claimed Fantasia workers are conjuring up dirty tactics in a bid to draw people to their event over his.

He said he and his staff had been around the area putting up 1,000 posters advertising his show, but when they returned to put up more they had been taken down and replaced by posters advertising their rivals.

The claim was dismissed by Circus Fantasia, although the company said such things were “part and parcel” of the industry.

“They do the same thing they’re accusing us of,” said a spokesman. “Whenever a circus is close to another one there is dirty tactics. Circuses will use every trick in the book, all kinds of stuff.”

Ernest denied ever having taken any posters down in his decades of experience, saying it was “not nice”.

“It does happen, but I have never done it,” he said.

Santus, held at the car boot site off Whalebone Lane, will feature a high wire and trapeze artists. The show runs from Wednesday 14 to Sunday 18. Times vary, tickets are from £9 and can be bought at

Circus Fantasia UK featuring ringmaster Dave Courtney will be in Forest Farm, Forest Road, Barkingside, opposite Fairlop Waters, on Saturday 17 from 8pm. All seats are £6.99 and can be bought by calling 07522 329565.

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