Kenneth Cranham reads from Andrew McConnell Stott's account of the life of one of the world's most famous clowns, Joseph Grimaldi, who became a superstar of Georgian pantomime.
The two-year-old Joseph Grimaldi is propelled onto the stage at Sadler's Wells by his ruthless, ballet master father, the Signor. The infant Joe enters the somewhat sordid and perilous world of 18th-century theatre, where he is drilled daily in the arts of mime, acrobatics and buffoonery. When the Signor finally dies of the syphilis that has threatened his sanity for decades, the nine-year-old clown Joe is forced to become breadwinner for the Grimaldi family.
Abridged by Viv Beeby.