Savile saga with an added Punch

The show has been written in a puppet format, but will use live actors. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
The show has been written in a puppet format, but will use live actors. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
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A CONTROVERSIAL “Punch and Judy-style” show about serial sex offender Jimmy Savile is being performed at this year’s Edinburgh Festival.

The writer of Jimmy Savile: The Punch and Judy Show claims he is aiming to raise questions and encourage debate about how the former BBC presenter was able to spend decades abusing countless victims without ever being brought to justice. But critics have questioned if the subject matter is appropriate.

The story of Savile will be tackled Punch and Judy style. Picture: contributed

The story of Savile will be tackled Punch and Judy style. Picture: contributed

Writer Nick Awde, who has authored several other Fringe plays including the critically-acclaimed Pete and Dud: Come Again, which examined the relationship between Peter Cook and Dudley Moore, said: “It has been written as a puppet show but will be performed with live actors. The concept is still there however. We want to use the play to encourage debate and draw attention to some important questions surrounding the Savile case which we don’t feel have been properly examined, namely how was he able to continue committing crimes for so long? Was he protected by certain relationships with powerful people? Was it because of his charity work?”

The performance will also draw parallels between Savile and the character of Mr Punch.

Mr Awde continued: “Mr Punch was a character we all took our children to see, but we have to ask ourselves – what is Mr Punch? He’s a wife beater and at times a murderer, yet always manages to evade proper punishment. We hope people will come along to the show and judge for themselves, and hopefully come out asking questions.”

But questions have been asked over whether the show – listed as a comedy – is 
appropriate.

Conservative councillor Jeremy Balfour said: “To say there has no been public debate about these issues is wrong. There have been debates everywhere, the issue has been repeatedly highlighted and serious comment has been made. I’m not into censorship and telling people what they can or cannot say, but I question whether this is an appropriate time for a show of this nature and I imagine a lot of people will be wondering if this is really the kind of thing they wish to go and see.”

A charity that works with the victims of crime has also expressed concern.

David Sinclair, head of communications at Victim Support Scotland, said: “It is difficult to comment in detail on something we haven’t seen. However, I would hope the writer has taken the needs of victims of crime fully into account.” The play will be staged at Heroes at Bob’s Bookshop in South College Street.

jen.lavery@edinburghnews.com