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Glyn pulls no Punches in battle to save show.

Glyn Edwards is leading the fight to save Mr Punch.... from the forces of political correctness. The 300-year-old puppet is under threat from humourless bureaucrats who say: "That's NOT the way to do it." They accuse him of wife-beating and child-abuse. But Glyn, the word's leading authority on Punch and Judy, is taking them on in shopping centres across the country. And he has been invited to address a special pro-Punch conference in the US, where censorship is an even bigger issue. Glyn, aged 55, from Far Forest, near Bewdley in Worcestershire, runs a Kidderminster talent agency for puppeteers called Puppetlink. He earns his living as a Punch and Judy man. And entertainment runs in the family - his father was a clown, while daughter Katie is also a puppeteer. But the show has changed since he began at the aged of 14. The traditional tale has Mr Punch killing his wife Judy and throwing the baby out of the window. He steals the policeman's truncheon and beats him up. Then he is sentenced to be hanged - but tricks the executioner into sticking his own head in the noose. Finally he takes on the Devil, and wins. But Edinburgh council has banned Punch and Judy shows. London councils have demanded it be toned down and many mums and dads ask for sanitised versions at birthday parties. So Glyn keeps the tradition alive by performing in shopping precincts across the country - the old fashioned way. He said: "There are puppeteers who have caved in and removed all the violence. "But they are looked down on by the rest of us. "Mr Punch is our national puppet and the first recorded show was in 1662. I am determined to keep the tradition alive. "And I have been invited to speak at the Puppeteers of America convention in Seattle, where they have devoted a whole day to the problem of political correctness. "The German version, called Kasper, has been tamed. Instead of causing mischief he now goes into schools and gives lectures on road safety. "But in Italy, where Mr Punch started off and is known as Pulcinella, he is still going strong. "As well as whacking policemen with his stick, the bawdy puppet breaks wind in their faces." Puppetlink is expected to receive a Millennium Festival grant to run puppet shows involving youngsters in the Midlands. More than pounds 4.3 million has been allocated to the region and details will be announced by Culture Secretary Chris Smith at Birmingham's International Convention Centre tomorrow.
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Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Date:Feb 21, 1999
Words:421
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