From Echo’s clipping dated Sept. 1988
A painful blow for punch
Auntie Winnie Casper’s Punch and Judy shows have been a knockout despite a poor turnout for a recent performance. Winnie has been putting on shows in the Basildon area throughout the school summer holidays. And most have attracted huge audiences. But last Saturday’s performance in Basildon town centre was a big let-down. Most people seemed more interested in shopping than watching the show.
Winnie, of Raymond Avenue, Canvey, said: “I’m afraid this was the smallest crowd I’ve had for four years. I suppose Saturday morning is a bad time because people are rushing around doing their shopping and don’t have time to sit and watch a show.”
She gave her last performance for Basildon Council yesterday at Wickford Memorial Park. But she has no intention of hanging up her gloves. She now plans to start arranging her Christmas shows. She said: “Punch and Judy never loses its appeal, children are happy to see the show over and over again.
Winnie, one of the few women running Punch and Judy shows in Britain, took over from her father Paul when he died 10 years ago after 50 years in the business.
The photo below left is from an article in 1985. This is part of the story:
Puppeteers pack a Punch
Punch and Judy are still a big hit with South East Essex children, say puppeteers The puppets have taken a battering from feminists who believe the show goes hand in glove with violence and sexism. But entertainers have already censored their shows.
Canvey’s Auntie Winnie Casper said: “It’s all good fun. I’ve been in the business since childhood. When my father died 10 years ago I put the shows on.” She tells the children Punch is very naughty and they must not copy him. When he is eaten by the crocodile she explains he always gets himself out. But she admits parts of the traditional story are kept out, including the hanging. She keeps the baby-bashing and wife-clobbering to a minimum.
Punch and Judy fellowship spokesman Stella Richards said it was Judy’s beating that angered feminists who think the shows are too violent. She said: “They reckon we teach husbands to beat their wives.”
But to counter critics’ attacks Auntie Winnie has her own tale about the time it looked like curtains for her show last summer because of bad weather. A curate from St Katherine’s Church, Canvey, invited her to use the church. She said: “I was surprised and said you cannot have a Punch and Judy show in church, but he said it was perfectly all right, because Punch gets his comeuppance.’