Uncle Tacko’s Flea Circus

Uncle Tacko presents a flea to a crowd of kids!
Uncle Tacko is itching to show you his international troupe of personally trained fleas…
Uncle Tacko with Dave & Cassie from the Theatre of lemmings.
Mandy Rose

We caught up with ‘Uncle Tacko’ (performer Tony Lidington) who will be presenting his flea circus as part of the ‘Musueum of Coastal Curiosities’ in Tendring this summer, and in the lead up to the shows, we asked him a few questions about it all…


Introduce us to yourself in a line or two, who are you and what do you do?

I am a performer, researcher, lecturer, broadcaster, academic and nonsense merchant. I have worked in the area of realising historical popular entertainment forms for over 35 years. I have a doctorate in it. Most people know me as ‘Uncle Tacko!

What will you be doing this summer? (In Tendring)

Curating and presenting the exhibition with the Theatre of Lemmings and performing my flea circus.

How did you end up working with fleas?

I was interested in the history of forms of seaside sideshows and was inspired by an act I saw in Spain. I spent 3 years creating the act.

How did you get into seaside entertainment?

I was an undergraduate in Brighton and bought a banjo with my 21st birthday money – my Grandad was a so-called ‘minstrel’ and played on the charabanc to the seaside before the War and he played the banjo. I found-out that there were pierrot troupes, but nobody knew what they were, so I decided to do it – action research!

Why are historical seaside entertainments so important do you think?

They help us understand why the seaside is what it is now and how to regenerate it.

Who is the show for?

The whole family – all 3 generations.

Can the audience get involved? If yes how?

Shout and heckle whenever possible!

What will they learn?

How flea circuses can still astound & amaze in the era of computer games and also how silly Uncle Tacko’s world can be…

What will they take away with them?

Occasionally one of my fleas and the warm glow of half an hour of giggling.

Tell us something surprising about your act?

Fleas have no ears…

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