A generation ago every child knew the only way to save Tinkerbell was to clap their hands as hard as they could.

But today that simple expression of joy is a mystery to youngsters, says Watford showman Mark Foot, who is about to launch his very own circus.

“You wouldn’t believe how many hundreds of children I have met who don’t know how to clap.

“People don’t realise the world is forgetting how to clap.”

The 30-year-old is determined to change this with Chaplin’s Circus, an animal and clown-free show with a difference, which will have its world premiere on Saturday.

Mark hopes it will provide a lifeline for people the way it did for him.

Adopted when he was two days old by Watford couple Rita and Michael Foot, there has always been a touch of Peter Pan about Mark.

Severely dyslexic, the former Knutsford School and Parmiter’s pupil says people thought he was ‘stupid’ and classmates bullied him, but he found solace in the dazzling big top shows that would roll into the playing field opposite his home.

“From the age of about eight I would slip out a window and the side gate and find someone to take me across the road to see the circus people.

“I have loved it all my life.

“I struggled at school but circus skills were something I could connect with, “ says Mark, who is ringmaster in his new show. “The circus is so international, everyone has that common ground and they mostly use body language to talk.”

He trained as a plumber but has never worked as one, instead doing street shows in Covent Garden and then working at kids’ parties, with numerous circuses and with famous magicians Penn and Teller.

The Carpenders Park resident set up theatrical company Scarenation in Watford three years ago and has now invested profits into Chaplin’s Circus, that will offer free workshops to families.

“My motto is you invest in the community and they will invest in you,“ says Mark.

“Circus skills are so important.

“I have met people who say they have come along to see the show as their wife has just died and they needed to smile.

“You can’t get that from television.

“My dream is to bring the circus back to Knutsford fields where I saw my first ever circus.”

  • Highfield Park, Russet Drive, St Albans, May 24 and 25, 3pm and 7pm, May 26-30, 4pm and 7pm, May 31, 1pm and 7pm, and June 1, 1pm and 5pm. Details: 01727 555250, chaplinscircus.com