Circus entertainers have defended their profession as the Killer Clown craze sparks outcry in the North East.
The region has been invaded by an army of clowns who are stalking the streets and terrorising children and adults with knives.
It’s a worldwide craze that has left billions of sane people baffled and has resulted in scores of victims being scared out of their wits - and genuine clowns are furious at their profession's name being dragged through the mud as a result.
“These people are not clowns. They are just idiots wearing clown costume. It isn’t funny," Rob Bowker, a spokesman for Clowns International, the world’s oldest clown club, told our sister site inews.co.uk.
”Children have nothing to fear from real clowns. They only want to make people smile. These people are nothing to do with us. It's incredibly frustrating."
Mr Bowker, who works under the name Bibbledy Bob, added: “Clowning is an art form and it takes years to learn. These people are hijacking the costume and scaring people."
Mattie Faint, who has been a professional clown for 45 years and is director of the Clowns Gallery and Museum in London, said while Killer Clowns had taken the problem to a whole new level, his profession being demeaned by those wishing to cause fear is not a new one.
“This issue comes up time and again when Hallowe’en costumes start appearing in the shops," he said.
”We spend our lives spreading fun, laughter and happiness, but these people are nothing to do with us. It’s nasty people running down the street with knives. It’s horrible and it’s frightening.“