Coco the Clown

Duration: 13 minutes

First transmitted in 1966, Joan Bakewell interviews renowned circus performer Nicolai Poliakov who made his name as 'Coco the Clown'. Coco discusses his life and career, and reveals some of the unwritten 'rules' of clowning.

  • BBC Four Talk Collection

    This programme is part of Talk - a collection of interviews with some of the most influential figures of the 20th century.

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  • More about this programme

    "Clowns are not made they are born," says Nicolai Poliakoff, who was one of the most famous circus performer of his generation. He tells of leaving home at the age of seven to join an Italian circus where he learnt riding, tumbling and the trapeze. He then offers his own technical characterisation of his circus persona, describing himself as an 'Auguste', the white-faced clown who plays the fool but who always wins in the end. Poliakoff proudly celebrates Britain's affection towards slapstick comedy but laments the fading popularity of the circus in England.
  • About BBC Four Collection programmes

    Programmes are selected, in part, for their historical context and reflect the broadcast standards and attitudes of their time, which may not accord to some current BBC editorial guidelines. We aim to select programmes which can be shown in their entirety but in some cases edits are required.


Denis Tuohy
Michael Dean
Tony Bilbow
Joan Bakewell
Coco the Clown
Nicolai Poliakov


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  • Talk

    A collection of BBC interviews with influential figures of the 20th century.

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