30 November 2023 8:08 PM
Saltfleetby parish council called off Paul Douglas's show after deeming it 'inappropriate'

It’s been a British tradition since at least the reign of Charles II.

But a Punch and Judy show to mark the coronation of the third King Charles has been cancelled – after ‘snowflake’ parish councillors decided it was ‘inappropriate’.

‘Punchman’ Paul Douglas, 72, was booked months ago to perform at a coronation gala on May 6. But he has now been dropped from the event in the Lincolnshire village of Saltfleetby after objections from the parish council.

Mr Douglas, who has been performing for 60 years, branded the decision ‘political correctness gone absolutely haywire’. And today(Fri) it emerged the decision has split the council, with one elected member telling the Mail the cancellation was ‘pathetic’.

Mr Douglas said: ‘It’s probably one or two people who actually don’t like it. They don’t think that I should be hitting Mr Punch or Mr Punch should be hitting somebody else.

Saltfleetby parish council called off Paul Douglas’s show after deeming it ‘inappropriate’

70082665 11998449 The Punch and Judy show had been scheduled to celebrate King Cha a 1 1682083852987 - Punch and Judy show to celebrate the King's coronation axed over fears it would be 'inappropriate'

The Punch and Judy show had been scheduled to celebrate King Charles’s coronation

‘It’s probably those same people who go home and watch Coronation Street or Emmerdale and see somebody getting murdered.’

But the entertainer, who spent last summer performing on the promenade at Mablethorpe on the Lincolnshire coast, said he was not too upset at being cancelled.

‘It’s sad that they’ve reached this decision’, he said. ‘It’s never happened to me before. But it means I can watch Charlie get crowned. I’m a bit of a fan of his and it’s not as if I need the money.’

The first recorded Punch and Judy show in Britain was in on 9 May 1662, in London’s Covent Garden – when Samuel Pepys wrote in his famous diary that he enjoyed ‘an Italian puppet play’.

Characters include Mr Punch, his wife Judy, their baby, a crocodile and a police officer.

But in recent years, the shows – in which Punch hits other characters with a stick – have fallen foul of some councils.

In May 2016, Barry Town Council in South Wales removed a Punch and Judy show from a local festival line-up because of ‘innappropriate hitting’ and concerns about domestic violence content.

In 2004, Bodmin Town Council in Cornwall made a similar decision, while five years ago, puppeteer Brian Llewellyn had to remove the Punch and Judy element from his show at an Armed Forces Day in Redcar, North Yorkshire, after council officials also deemed it ‘inappropriate’.

Mr Douglas said: ‘I just think councils behaving like this are all snowflakes’.

The former chef performed for years on the beach at Mablethorpe before stepping away from the summer seasonal work in favour of private performances at parties or corporate events.

But he was persuaded to return to the coast last summer by Mablethorpe’s Snack Shack Café owner Robert Baldwin.

Mr Baldwin, 38, said: ‘The show went down a treat last summer and there were no complaints. I certainly didn’t have any concerns with it.’

The Saltfleetby gala has been organised by Saltfleetby Community Association(SCA). But it is funded by a community grant from a local wind farm, which is administered by the parish council.

A spokesman for the SCA said its application for funding was accepted on the condition that the Punch and Judy show was removed from the programme of events, but said the council had refused to elaborate on what it considered ‘inappropriate’ about the performance.

He said the association felt like it had been ‘held to ransom’ over the matter.

But Saltfleetby parish councillor Robin Smith, who wasn’t present at the meeting when colleagues took against the Punch and Judy show, said: ‘I think it is pathetic to raise objections like this.

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Critics of Punch and Judy shows say the violence in them is inappropriate for children 

‘Children just see the (Punch and Judy) show as good fun. If I had been at the meeting you can take it as read that I would have voted in favour of the show taking place.’

Fellow councillor Steve Clark, who also missed the meeting, said that while he understood the council’s reservations ‘at a time when domestic violence is on the increase’, he didn’t support it, adding: ‘Personally I don’t have a problem with the show’.

The parish council’s chairman and clerk have been contacted for comment.

Clive Chandler from the Punch and Judy College of Professors said he could not comment on the suitability of Mr Douglas’s act, but added that ‘not all shows are the same’.

70082661 0 The village of Saltfleetby Lincolnshire on the North Sea coast h a 4 1682065586706 - Punch and Judy show to celebrate the King's coronation axed over fears it would be 'inappropriate'

The village of Saltfleetby, Lincolnshire, is on the North Sea coast and has around 600 residents

He said Punch and Judy shows remained ‘widely popular’ and in high demand approaching the coronation.

The late Queen was pictured watching a performance as a child, and also at a Sandringham garden party in 1946.

But concerns about the shows date as far back to 1849, when a woman wrote to a newspaper claiming they were not suitable for children.

In response, author Charles Dickens wrote: ‘I regard it as quite harmless in its influence, and as an outrageous joke which no one in existence would think of regarding as an incentive to any kind of action or as a model for any kind of conduct.’

Charles II spent 25 years on the throne from 1660, after returning from nine years in exile in France. He died after a stroke in 1685.

Source : https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-11998449/Punch-Judy-celebrate-Kings-coronation-axed-fears-inappropriate.html?ns_mchannel=rss&ito=1490&ns_campaign=1490&rand=1270


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