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Dickens World comic loses job over joke

CHRIS WALLEDGE: "I've been telling this joke for 20 years and I've never once had a complaint"
CHRIS WALLEDGE: "I've been telling this joke for 20 years and I've never once had a complaint"

AFTER spending 30 years as a semi professional entertainer, Chris Walledge was delighted to get a job at Dickens World at Chatham when it opened last month.

He was brought in to entertain visitors at the multi-million pound attraction by singing, telling stories of Dickensian history and recounting jokes.

But the jokes landed him in trouble with his employers and he was asked to leave.

He was performing in Peggoty’s Boat House, where visitors are shown a film about Charles Dickens’ life, when he told a joke that apparently caused offence

The joke was: “There will be a big bust competition. The winner will receive a bottle of Bristol Cream, the runner-up gets a booby prize.”

The next day he was called to see his supervisor and asked to resign. He was told the joke was inappropriate and there were a number of complaints.

Mr Walledge said: “I have been telling this joke for 20 years and I have never had a complaint. I think it was a bit over the top.

“The character I was playing was meant to be working in a Victorian music hall. The old artists used to tell far worse jokes, they used to be f-ing and blinding.”

Mr Walledge said he was unhappy he had been asked to resign because he had enjoyed his job and thought he was a good employee.

He said he went to great lengths to keep visitors entertained, speaking to French visitors in their own language and used his basic sign language skills to help hard of hearing visitors.

Mr Walledge said he had also spent a great deal of time researching the life of Dickens to help answer visitors’ questions.

The promotional material for the Chatham Maritime theme park advertises a cast of nice and nasty, colourful characters.

It also mentions plans for a series of burlesque shows in a Victorian music hall setting.

Dickens World refused to comment but confirmed they had asked Mr Walledge to resign.

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