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Last Updated: Tuesday, 9 August 2005, 10:13 GMT 11:13 UK
Punch and Judy ban on Bin Laden
Punch and Judy
Thanet Council said Saddam could not be Mr Punch's bogeyman
A Punch and Judy man has been banned from using Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden puppets in his Kent seaside show.

Thanet council told Brent Witts to take the characters out of his routine at Viking Bay, Broadstairs, after complaints from members of the public.

"It was topical - it was a bit of fun, but someone did not care for that," said Mr Witts who cast Saddam and Bin Laden as the show's bogeymen.

Council officials said they received complaints from concerned parents.

They used to have Mussolini in the show - they used to have Hitler - that is the secret of Punch and Judy
Brent Witts

"We responded to those complaints by asking the puppeteer to remove the puppets," the council said in a statement.

A spokeswoman said she was unable to say how many complaints were received.

Mr Witts said he put Saddam in the show as the villain who stole Mr Punch's sausages.

Osama Bin Laden was cast as the devil.

"The devil would come up and say, 'Am I the devil, or do I look a little like Osama Bin Laden?," he said.

Mr Punch dispatched the baddies in time-honoured fashion by bashing them with his stick and Mr Witts said most of the audience enjoyed the joke.

Punch and Judy has traditionally poked fun at contemporary figures.

"They used to have Mussolini in the show - they had Hitler in the show - that is the secret of Punch and Judy, it is topical," said Mr Witts.

Viking Bay
Visitors to Viking Bay complained about the topical puppets

"The first thing the old Punch and Judy men did when they went to a new town was go to the pub and listen to the local gossip.

"Say the mayor was being accused of having a rendezvous with a lady, Judy would kiss Punch and say, 'You are as passionate as mayor so-and-so'."

But Mr Witts said he was keen to get along with the council, which owns his pitch, and got rid of the characters when asked.

"They asked me very nicely and I obliged them.

"They work very hard to keep Broadstairs alive - they want the tourists to come and we want the tourists to come."

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