"My real ladder left when I was six years old. Now I have a step-ladder,” Tweedy told us straight-faced as he tried to climb up to the acrobat’s swing.

The famous Giffords clown was finally rewarded with a set piece of his own rather than filling the gaps between acts. His caravan, replete with a bare-chested man continually frying bacon and grinning, boasted a wonderful variety of characters and props with which he regaled us, putting the juggler to shame.

But we all had our favourites, and they differed massively, the high standards meaning there was too much to choose from.

My children adored Giffords’ pocket ponies, smaller than Shetlands, and sweet enough to rouse an audible sigh from adults and children alike as they trotted in synchronised splendour around the ring.

Dian and her Dancing Dachshunds were another big hit, mainly because they were adorable and disobedient in equal measure. But for me the outright winner was certainly Nancy Trotter Landry and her talking turkey which sang on request.

Nancy herself was a marvel and a mainstay. Not only was she the pseudo ringmaster (Nell Gifford not appearing for her customary turn) but she sings like an angel, is the perfect stoodge for Tweedy and not adverse to being chased around the ring in her underwear.

However, the Dias Family stole the show, the audience walking a metaphorical tightrope alongside the two young acrobats spinning in front of us. Still in their teens, the Dias Family brothers, defied belief with their skill, alacrity, elasticity and dare-devilry. Their sisters followed suit, similarly extraordinary.

Elsewhere, the incredible band led by James Keay, the incredible flying Cretu Troupe, Dany Cesar’s horses, Alfredo & Pozo’s blast of Cuban joie de vivre and the Curatola Brothers’ acrobatics, all shone like retro stars.

Even the tent was different. Gone was the striped red big top, replaced by an enormous gleaming white number – Giffords Circus emblazoned in lights. Giffords went back to basics this year without dumbing down its ambitions or attention to detail. It’s the best yet. 5/5

Katherine MacAlister

Giffords Circus is at Oxford University Parks until June 25. giffordscircus.com