Tuesday 20 November 2018

'Do-gooders are killing fun and laughter' - Punch and Judy performance cancelled by school amid fears it glorifies domestic violence

A Punch and Judy show (stock)
A Punch and Judy show (stock)

Tom Wilkinson

A Punch and Judy man has blamed political correctness after a school cancelled a booking over fears that the show glorified domestic violence.

Brian Llewellyn, who took over the act from his father in 1977, said he refused the request from a Middlesbrough school to make sure Punch did not hit Judy, and that his performance should include police officers rather than a policeman.

The 64-year-old said another school had asked him to drop a minstrel character - one he insisted was actually a black puppet, rather than a white one dressed up as a black person, and which has featured in Punch and Judy shows for hundreds of years.

In a Facebook post, he said: "It is just a silly little puppet show with lumps of wood. It does not glorify violence, there are no hidden agendas, no hurtful intentions, and no racism.

"It is, simply, slapstick humour. Do-gooders are killing fun and laughter in the name of being 'PC'."

Mr Llewellyn, from Darlington, added: "Mr Punch goes round hitting everyone.

"He hits Judy, the baby, the hits the clown, the crocodile, the policeman and he bats the judge.

"Nobody is exempt.

"In the end the policeman locks him up and the kids all shout that Mr Punch has been naughty.

"It's a silly little morality play."

Mr Llewellyn said if anyone should be damaged by such shows, it should be his family as their father had the act before him, starting in 1952.

But his brothers and sisters are a retired police officer, a pub landlord, a child minder and a radiologist.

"We have all grown up with Punch and Judy, we have seen the violence, the wife-beating, the child-beating - I followed my father for six weeks every summer - and it hasn't affected us."

Mr Llewellyn said children continued to love the show and they clearly see that Mr Punch is in the wrong.

"They all know Mr Punch is naughty, give them some credit."

The children's entertainer had to remove the Punch and Judy element from his act to perform at the recent Armed Forces Day in Redcar.

Carl Quartermain, Cabinet member for culture, tourism and communications at Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council, said it would have been "inappropriate".

He said: "The business was still booked for its face-painting and balloon-making entertainment, and the Punch and Judy show will be considered on an event-by-event basis in future."

Becky Rogerson, from Middlesbrough domestic abuse charity My Sisters' Place, told the Northern Echo: "Some may get the positive message behind Punch getting punished but that may not be the message every child takes away."

Press Association

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