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Doddles, c1877 - 1967



  • Existence: c1877 - 1967
  • Usage: c1922 - 1944


William McAllister was born in the November of 1877 in Glasgow. Originally, he was a gymnast and a wire walker and had worked with the Bostock’s Zoo and Circus. Then at eleven years old, McAllister became an apprentice to Zalva and Alvar, performing in the high wire group ‘Espana’. The group travelled around the world for five years and visited Austria, Germany, France, Russia and America and performed at the Tower Circus in 1902. McAllister's career as a gymnast would last for almost 20 years before he would become one of the most famous clowns of his day, under the name Doodles.

As a clown, Doodles joined the Blackpool Tower Circus in 1915 and was very popular. His fame was elevated by his unique appearance and style, which included wearing a large top hat and bow tie along with being relatively small at 4ft 10.

Doodles had many acts and one of the more famous routines was ‘getting the sack’ from the Ringmaster, where he would be fired for his behaviour. This caused the children in the audience to beg for the clown to be reinstated. These acts were a huge success and he was best known for chasing his hat around the ring which made many people laugh.

Doodles remained at Blackpool Tower Circus for over 20 years and was one of the longest serving performers of his time at the Circus. His importance to the Circus was formally recognized once he had retired in 1944 because he was the only one at that time to receive a company pension. This gesture highlighted how well respected and admired he was to the circus.

Found in 4 Collections and/or Records:

Blackpool Tower Circus Poster, 1936

Reference code: 178R47.148
Scope and Contents

Jenny and Piccolo elephants and clowns, Los Aseveras equestrian act, Sensational Berosinis high wire, Khayyam Troupe springboard acrobats, Sandor Karoly 5 equestrian act, 4 Famous Phillips equilibrists, Doodles, Nico and Alex clowns, 3 van Normans, Ballet d'Cirque, The Edmondos horeback juggler, Christian's poodles, Paul Paetzold and Co cycling comedians. Colour illustrations of an elephant, a man and a woman on horseback and an arabian palace and lake. Printed by W. E. Berry Ltd.

Dates: 1936

Blackpool Tower Circus Posters, c1930 - 1990

Reference code: 178R47.141-212
Scope and Contents

Posters for Blackpool Tower Circus including shows by Knie's Circus, Circus Krone, Circus Schumann, Bertram Mills Circus, Robert Brothers Circus and performances by Charlie Cairoli, Doddles, Coco the Clown, The Rosaires, Lilly Yokoi, Alfred Court, Vojtek Trubka, The Great Wallendas and Mary Chipperfield among others.

Dates: c1930 - 1990

Circus Friends Association Collection

Reference code: NFA0122
Scope and Contents

This collection consists of a large library of books and journals, as well as archival material including posters, programmes, photographs, films, handbills, research material, scrapbooks, original artwork and many other items of ephemera relating to British, Irish and European circuses

Dates: 1795 - 2020

Posters, c1800 - 2011

Reference code: 178R47
Scope and Contents

A wide range of British and international circus and menagerie posters ranging from the 19th to the 21st century including Astley's Amphitheatre, Pablo Fanque, Polito, Bostock and Wombwell, Ducrow, Cooke, Hengler, Sanger, Smart, Gerry Cottle, Bertram Mills, Chipperfield's, Robert Brothers, Fossett, Blackpool Tower, Billy Russell, Belle Vue, Great Yarmouth Hippodrome, Austen Brothers and many more.

Dates: c1800 - 2011