ROLL up! Roll up! The circus is back in town - and being led by a Swindon ringmaster returning to the big top after a 31-year absence.

Michael Austen will step into the role of showman for the first time in decades this weekend as part of Planet Circus.

The 68-year-old was born in Cambridge but settled in Cricklade when he joined Austen Brothers' Circus.

He said: “I’m very excited to be back in town and back doing what I love once again."

Planet Circus manager Max Salthouse arrived in town earlier this week and has been the ringmaster for the previous shows.

However, he will now give up his ringmaster role to let Michael step into the spotlight over the weekend.

Max said: “He comes from one of the oldest circus families in England.

“He and his brother had several different acts in various circuses and set up their own. It’s been a long time since he was in the circus tent but we wanted to bring him back to his childhood and the life he had.

“It’s nice to have someone from the outside world back here, especially someone from Swindon. He’s missed it, as everybody that leaves does.

“Hopefully he’ll get a good reaction from the audience.”

Planet Circus’ ‘OMG!’ show features a packed lineup of daredevil stunts including bikers performing stunts in a Globe of Death, knife throwing and highwire acts.

It will be on the Westcote Recreation Ground on Wootton Bassett Road tonight at 5pm, on Saturday at 2pm and 5pm, and on Sunday at 12.30pm and 3pm.

A box office is open on-site from 9.30am to 8pm.

Mr Austen missed the photocall for this article but he will be ready for the weekend's shows.