The world’s first Human Catapult


"the gorilla wasn’t pushed, he leaned out too far reaching for the banana"

During this period (late seventies and early eighties), Joe’s zany publicity stunts guaranteed his unusual shows would be a sell out – always covered by both the UK and world press and TV crews, he devised and staged a human cannon shot over the River Avon, then the world’s first Human Catapult, an enormous replica of a Roman boulder thrower which catapulted a girl over the River. The next year it was four cars attempting the river jump, then a motorcycle, the next year a mini bus, followed by a single deck 52 seater coach and ultimately a London double decker bus (all speed and ramp angles carefully and scientifically worked out by TVs Don’t Ask Me, Magnus Pike.) Much to the public’s and the press’ delight, the vehicles always landed in the river.

The rest of Joe’s entertainment consisted of the usual Motobirds car and bike stunt show, Mud Wrestling matches (one year thrown open to the public, both sexes, for publicly sorting out disputes) car jumping contests (where members of the public bought their own cars and tried to get the farthest off a 10ft high ramp over a line of parked cars), car rolling contests (again bring your own car), egg kicking contests, (specially for kids), custard pie contests (a speciality devised by Chris Tarrant and Tis Was TV show), the first BMX bike stunt show performed by eight boys all under eleven years old, the first National dog swimming championships (over the River Soar and the River Avon), the birdman contests (who could go furthest down river in unpowered flight from a 100ft high platform) the World’s first Mixed Domestic Pet Race, handicapped by scientific computerized programme based on girth to inside leg ratio (Joe was prosecuted by the RSPCA again), the first ever gorilla to parachute into a showground (yes, he was prosecuted again – the gorilla wasn’t pushed, he leaned out too far reaching for the banana on the end of the stick, your honour), the first man (Mr X) to jump out of a plane without a parachute into the cannon safety net (it’s a long story and he did nearly get locked up for that one), the car and stunt driver hoisted to 150ft high and then dropped onto a stack of parked cars, as well as the usual fairground and celebrity appearances – its hardly surprising that his shows have been known to sell out to capacity crowds, bringing the whole town to a standstill, all shops having sold out of goods and the police having to close the motorway exits to move the 10 mile traffic jams trying to get into the show when its already full. The annual reputation was such that, when Joe gave up doing them, the press and TV stations were ringing and asking him to please carry on.

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