Fears of a clown; Entertainers hit out after copycats terrorise public.
Byline: MARTIN BAGOT
THE nation's clowns are in no mood for a laugh...
They fear their reputation is being tarnished by a bizarre craze sweeping the country.
People are dressing up in clown gear and makeup and terrifying the public.
Police have been swamped with reports of characters in costume carrying knives, lurking outside houses and jumping out at the public in the street.
RESPONSIBLE Clown Sally Beadle, who is also known as Crazy Bananas, said: "Even my own children who grew up around clowns have been scared by this.
"It's more than a job, it's something we love, but people's reaction to us has changed - I was getting messages asking if I was responsible for scaring people."
It is thought to have started when the "Northampton Clown" put snaps of himself on Facebook dressed as Stephen King's Pennywise from the film It.
He became a global hit, but imitators have turned sinister.
He wrote: "There have been copycats, but that's not me."
Several police forces have issued warnings.
There were 29 reports in Derbyshire, including claims of a clown carrying a gun and another trying to get in houses.
South Yorkshire had 28 incidents, while there were reported sightings in Lancashire and King's Lynn in Norfolk.
Performer Tony Eldridge, of Clowns International, said: "This is doing clowning no favours and is harming society.
"The fear of clowns - known as coulrophobia - is a real thing and some people will react very badly to this.
"It is a small group of people with stupid views and it spoils the fun for everybody else."
SENSATION He posted pictures online dressed as Stephen King's Pennywise
ORIGINAL The Northampton Clown in street