PUNCH and Judy shows were once synonymous with traditional English seaside towns like Worthing.
This year, Mr Punch is celebrating his 350th birthday and a Worthing man is helping bring the slapstick entertainment back to life.
Punch expert Glyn Edwards has created a hands-on exhibition at Worthing Museum and Art Gallery, which gives visitors the chance to have a go at being a Punch performer, or “professor”.
The exhibition showcases the life and times of the famous seaside puppet and friends, and includes rare exhibits from the museum’s collections including costume, ephemera and fine art.
Glyn, who lives in Broadwater, said: “It’s splendid to have the opportunity to display the history of Punch and Judy in such a celebrated resort as sunny Worthing. Generations of holiday-makers have been entertained in traditional seaside style near Worthing Pier by professors such as the 1930s favourite Charlie Speller.”
Glyn’s family has three generations of Brighton seaside entertainers.
He said: “I’m the middle one and have performed my Punch and Judy for more than 50 years throughout the UK and taken it as far afield as Russia, America and Japan.
“My parents were seafront entertainers in the 1930s and my daughter is a Brighton Punch and Judy professor, too. I saw Mr Punch for my very first time under the West Pier in the 1940s and first performed myself on Brighton beach in the 1960s. I have Punch and Judy running through me like the writing through a stick of Brighton rock.”
On Saturday, Glyn, 68, helped organise a huge Punch and Judy party in London. Dozens of puppeteers gathered to celebrate 350 years of the Punch and Judy show.
He added: “The Worthing exhibition is part of the wonderful national celebrations – it’s a great thing for the town.”
The exhibition is presented by the Fedora group as part of The Big Grin national celebrations of Mr Punch’s 350th year. It is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and runs until September 1.
Punch and Judy workshops are available at the museum for schools. For more details, contact 221448.