Yarmouth's Hippodrome Circus features in BBC's Antiques Road Trip

Antiques Road Trip in Norfolk

Phil Serrell and Irita Marriott have enjoyed an antiques road trip around Norfolk for the BBC programme of the same name. STV Studios/BBC - Credit: BBC / STV Studios

One of Great Yarmouth's most famous attractions was visited by a film crew from the BBC's Antiques Road Trip to shine the spotlight on Norwich-born Victorian showman Pablo Fanque.

In an episode broadcast this week antiques expert Irita Marriott talked to circus impresario Peter Jay about the legendary performer and his links with The Beatles.

Antiques Road Trip films across Norfolk

Phil Serrell and Irita Marriott visited antique centres in Norwich, North Walsham, and Holt as well as Yarmouth's Hippodrome Circus for the programme Antiques Road Trip. - Credit: BBC/STV Studios

The Antiques Road Trip episode followed Irita and Phil Serrell as they travelled around East Anglia in a vintage 1976 Aston Martin on the hunt for bargains, a search which took them to All Saints Antiques Centre in Westlegate, Norwich, Shirehall Plain Antiques Centre in Holt, and Timeline Antiques in North Walsham.

Mr Jay said the crew spent an afternoon filming at the historic venue exploring the life of Fanque, one of the world's first black circus owners.

Peter Jay, owner of Great Yarmouth Hippodrome. Picture: Nick Warner

Peter Jay, owner of Great Yarmouth Hippodrome. Picture: Nick Warner - Credit: Nick Warner

Researchers for the programme were inspired by a poster advertising a benefit gig staged by Fanque for a Mr Kite - its text taken virtually word for word by John Lennon for the track of the same name.

By coincidence Mr Jay had a copy of the poster and had toured with the Beatles in 1963, adding an extra dimension to the story.

He said he had totally forgotten about the programme filmed in the summer against a canvas of blue skies and broadcast on Monday.

Most Read

The Yarmouth segment opened with a swooping shot of the town's wide, sandy beaches before taking viewers inside the Hippodrome.

With the BBC wanting to highlight the life and times of Fanque Mr Jay explained how he made his way from the Norwich workhouse to national stardom and mingling with royals - only to lose it all again.

The remarkable rags to riches tale saw Fanque transform himself into a circus icon performing daring stunts on horseback.

But the advent of musical hall saw circus popularity wane and he died penniless, having been "as big as The Beatles".

"His legacy lives on in diversity," Mr Jay said.

"Circus has always been inclusive. It is the one art form where everyone is accepted for what they are. It has always been equal and it is the same now."

To watch it search for series 24, episode 16 on the BBC iPlayer.