Big Top's title card
|Written by||Daniel Peak|
|Directed by||Marcus Mortimer|
|Theme music composer||Al Collingwood|
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|No. of series||1|
|No. of episodes||6 (List of episodes)|
|Executive producer(s)||Jed Leventhall
|Running time||30 mins|
|Original run||2 December 2009 – 30 December 2009|
Big Top is a BBC television comedy series which first aired on 2 December 2009. The series set in and around a travelling circus, aired on BBC One and BBC HD simultaneously. The series revolved around the performers and backstage staff of Circus Maestro. The series consisted of 6 episodes, each 30 minutes in length.
Lizzie the Ring Mistress (Holden) must overcome all of the problems which get thrown at her during the production of the circus show. The circus features a husband-and-wife clown team (Thomson and Thompson), who aren't as funny as they believe they are, and Erasmus (Robinson) is a cynical soundman. Georgie (Madoc) is the Grande Dame of Circus Maestro, and Boyco (Mackinnon) is an East European acrobat who is still learning about the ways of the English world.
Lizze is the Daughter of Circus Maestro's founder, but when her father ends up in prison for fraud she becomes the Ring Mistress. Lizzie grew up in the circus and loves it with all her heart. Her only regret is that she has absolutely no circus skills. She can't juggle, can't spin plates and never even took the stabilisers off her unicycle.
Geoff is one half the clown double act, Plinky and Plonky, the husband and wife team involving him and his wife Helen. One problem being, their act isn't very funny since Geoff hasn't got a funny bone in his body.
Erasmus is the cynical Soundman who has a scheme and con for everything. Anything that involves him getting cash he will try it.
Georgie is the Grande Dame of the circus and has an act with her dog, David, a West Highland Terrier. She cares a lot about David but often uses him as part of little schemes. When Boyco gets a job as advertising Accident Claims and Compensation, Georgie tries to use David to claim saying he is suffering with stress.
Boyco is the Acrobat of the Circus and he's also madly in love with Lizzie. He is 28 years old and does juggling, high wire, balloon animals and trampolining.
Helen acts as the other half of Plinky and Plonky. Helen is Lizzie's auntie and always tries to help out Lizzie in any way she possibly can, even if she fails. She tries to help Lizzie with finding love but Lizzie doesn't like any of the men Helen matches her up with.
The BBC released an announcement on 22 January 2009 that the series had begun filming. Big Bear Films produced the series. Big Top was filmed in front of a live studio audience and on location in and around London. The show was written by Daniel Peak and Jon Brown, directed by Marcus Mortimer and co-produced by John Stroud and Marcus Mortimer. It was commissioned by Jay Hunt, Controller of BBC One, and Lucy Lumsden, Controller of Comedy Commissioning for the BBC. The executive producers are Jed Leventhall for Big Bear and Simon Wilson for the BBC. Prior to broadcast the second and third episodes were in reverse order; "Skydiver" then "Visa".
Reception to the series was poor. Sam Wollaston of The Guardian commented that the jokes were so obvious that he invented a game, whereby he would pause the show after the set up and ask his girlfriend to guess the punchline. Sky's website was equally negative, stating "The jokes are more tired than you'd find in a Christmas cracker and it all seems just a bit juvenile. Apart from a few off-colour gags about sleeping with a health and safety inspector which were just the wrong side of distasteful."
|Episode number||Episode name||Plot||Airdate (planned)||Viewers (audience share)|
|1||"Boyfriend"||The circus is sabotaged by a rival one in town, and Lizzie is determined to get revenge. A Health and Safety inspector also pays a visit. As Lizzie and her Auntie Helen start talking about her past boyfriends it helps her to realise that she likes him. But the date ends in disaster when he insults the cast and crew of her circus and suggest she leaves...||2 December 2009||3.3 million (15%)|
|2||"Visa"||Boyco the Acrobat gets a small job advertising an agency that deals with Accident Claims and giving out compensation. Lizzie thinks this is great because now the circus is being promoted. But her happiness is soon gone when she receives a visit from immigration and it appears that her star acrobat is Eastern European and has no work visa. Being desperate to keep Boyco, Lizzie is willing to go to any lengths to make him legitimate, even if that means marriage but Plonky the Clown wants him banged to rights. As always Auntie Helen is always there to save the day!||9 December 2009|
|3||"Skydiver"||Milo the Skydiver is injured a replacement needs to be found quickly. Her options are limited to a suicidal man, a Chinese hypnotist and a reluctant West Highland terrier. It is not looking hopeful...||16 December 2009|
|4||"Dad"||Lizzie is happy after finding out that her circus has a chance to perform in the opening ceremony of the 2012 Summer Olympics. Erasmus has a plan to get her dad out of prison, to dig up some cash for the event.||23 December 2009|
|5||"Clown"||The sales are at an all-time low when Geoff becomes ill. Lizzie attempts to fill in as the clown herself. The rest of the members of the circus attempt to make money by any means possible.||28 December 2009|
|6||"Thief"||The police notify Lizzie that the members of the circus are prime suspects for a spout of local robberies. Lizzie suspects Erasmus and banishes him, before the criminal underworld arrive at the circus.||30 December 2009|