MR PUNCH will keep fighting to remain on Weymouth beach, thanks to an enthusiastic show of support from locals and holidaymakers.

Last week saw the final performance of the summer, amid fears that it could be the last ever for the resort. However, puppeteer Mark Poulton is optimistic about the future of the show and is appealing for local businesses to sponsor the theatre next summer.

At the beginning of the season Mr Poulton expressed concerns about whether he could cover the running costs needed to keep Weymouth's traditional Punch and Judy theatre going - but says he is determined that the show must go on in 2019.

He said: "The turnout to our finale was excellent, thanks in part to the cooler weather making the beach more comfortable for audiences.

I absolutely love performing Punch and Judy and I'm doing all that I can to make sure it remains in Weymouth.

I'd like to extend my heartfelt thanks to everyone for their donations and support, I'm feeling hopeful for the future - watch this space!"

Despite keeping a positive outlook, Mr Poulton is concerned that Weymouth is losing its traditional seaside charm, citing the loss of the evening fireworks as a significant blow for the theatre:

"Cutting the fireworks hit me massively. Evening shows were the biggest income generator; I even invested in fairground lights to make the atmosphere really special.

"Watching an evening performance was the reason I got into this business in the first place, it was magical.

"When the new Weymouth Town Council is set up, I hope they take the time to come and speak to local independent businesses.

At the moment it feels like the council is no longer part of the town now that they've moved their services up to Dorchester."

Weymouth's Punch and Judy is a long-standing British tradition, and one of just three remaining beach theatres in the world.

A crowdfunding page was set up to help with running costs, however this has been paused while future options are explored.

Mr Poulter said that a shorter summer season, caused by schools not allowing pupils holiday during term time, is one of the main reasons behind the shortfall, as well as the hot summer putting people off walking along the beach to watch the show.