Dr. Martin Reeve
I became involved with the Punch and Judy community and especially the Punch and Judy College of Professors when I undertook research into the state of the Punch tradition in Britain as it currently exists. This was as part of an Arts and Humanities Research Council funded collaborative PhD between the Punch and Judy College and Royal Holloway, London University. On a memorable evening during a Punch and Judy festival in Aberystwyth in 2006, I was ‘initiated’ into the College; this involved my being playfully hit over the head with slapsticks whilst I recited ‘Oh I do like to be beside the seaside’ in an ‘academic manner’- I do not deny that drink was involved. The doors were opened to me and I was allowed to explore the Punch world from the inside, as it were. The thesis was the result of these explorations. Entitled ‘Contemporary Punch and Judy in Performance’, it was an ethnographic account, and as such the first book-length academic work on Punch performers , their practices and what drives them (for those who are interested, I am happy to email you a Pdf copy of the thesis - I’m contactable at email@example.com).
On a memorable evening during a Punch and Judy festival in Aberystwyth in 2006, I was ‘initiated’ into the College; this involved my being playfully hit over the head with slapsticks whilst I recited ‘Oh I do like to be beside the seaside’ in an ‘academic manner’”
One of the surprising findings was that whilst the form has remained remarkably consistent over the centuries, there are probably more people doing the show now that at any other single time in its history. In 2008 I wrote and presented a documentary for BBC Radio 4 about Punch and Judy, ‘Mr Punch Says “That’s the way to Do it”’; and at the beginning of 2013, along with College member Clive Chandler and puppeteer Melvyn Rawlinson, I co-produced a documentary about the Punch and Judy College. This included conversations with and between College members and extracts of their shows (the DVD is available through the Punch and Judy Fellowship). I often work with Clive Chandler and his Giant Punch and Judy puppets, travelling around the country and across Europe performing at festivals and outdoor events. I continue to research in the field, write articles about it, and give papers at academic conferences. With my other hat on, I am an actor, and I have appeared in many TV shows including ‘Emmerdale’, ‘Coronation Street’, ‘Phoenix Nights’, and ‘Downton Abbey’. I am also often to be found recording ‘Talking Books’ for the RNIB. I live on Dartmoor in Devon.