Coco the Clown O.B.E

Olympia London

Coco the Clown OBE, aka Nicolai Polakovs OBE, was a legendary clown who performed with the Bertram Mills Circus for 37 years. Known for his oversized check suit, XXL boots, electric ginger wig and bold makeup, he was loved by kids and adults alike. Born in Russia, the war drove Coco to begin clowning and a life on the road, and although he’s entertained politicians and royalty, it’s his work for children – something close to his heart – that he’s most remembered for. This year marks the 50th anniversary of his death, and  granddaughter relayed that the Bertram Mills Christmas Circus, which was always held in the Grand Hall in Olympia, was always his favourite venue; he actually even resided on one of the platforms of Olympia Railways station in a caravan with his wife for many years. See his interview with Joan Bakewell in 1966 for the BBC here. Here’s to Coco! And to his granddaughter Mina, who is working hard to keep his memory at the forefront.  She did have a question for us: does anyone know how Coco and his wife were able to live on the Olympia Railways platform? Put your answers on a postcard, please.