Clive Chandler has been a full-time professional puppeteer for over 30 years. After graduating in Drama in 1980, he visited Spain. While there, he was inspired by a street theatre festival he witnessed, and taught himself stilt-walking. while working on stilts back in his hometown of Birmingham, he saw a Punch and Judy Show in progress. Too far away for him to watch the detailed action of the show, Clive was nonetheless taken by the general scene. In that moment he decided to try his hand at becoming a Punch & Judy Professor.
In the late 1990s, he was a founder member of the influential PuppetLink Ltd consortium. Through this he mounted three major international festival in 2003, 2005, and 2007, in Birmingham and the Midlands, entitled Dynamics. In parallel with Punch, he developed a series of glove puppet shows which he has continued to perform in primary schools. These include Pinocchio, The Snow Queen, Jack and the Beanstalk and Hansel and Gretel.
Over the years he has given an average of 300 performances annually at events, in schools and museums.
Bit by bit he made all his own puppets and staging, developing his own take on the tradition. In the mid-1980s he was by chance also doing some work at Central Television, as a sort of warm-up comedian on Saturday morning live shows. There he met Glyn Edwards, a producer and director of children’s shows. Away from television, Glyn was an established Punch performer and activist. He offered encouragement and advice and Clive quickly became a proficient Punch performer himself.
As a street entertainer specialising in Punch, he worked at many events, especially for Birmingham City Council, through the late 1980s/90s. He raised funds for and ran a series of puppet festivals, both large and small. These included a regular international Punch and Judy festival in Aberystwyth, one in Walsall, and another at the Midlands Arts Centre (MAC). During the 1980s he was also a member of The Cannon Hill Puppet Company, based at MAC and run by John Blundall. He has fond memories of working on Erik the Viking and Treasure Island.
Clive has had a 20-year relationship with the educational tours at The Museum of Cannock Chase and also been a regular at the Black Country Living Museum and at Blists Hill Museum in Ironbridge. He has been a familiar face at UK festivals such as Skipton and Beverley.
Additionally, he has travelled to many European countries, including attending The Puppet Mondial in Charleville-Mezieres in France, with Punch and his various Giant Puppets. He has a particularly strong relationship with Portugal.
As well as traditional glove puppet work, he has led a number of international collaborations which included puppets blown in crystal glass. His show Dragon has been performed on the exterior of a church and on stage at the municipal theatre of Funchal, Madeira (2019 & 2020).
Clive is a long-standing member of the Guild, the Punch & Judy College of Professors and the Punch & Judy Fellowship. He was a committee member of the PJF and is a former Chair of The Puppet Centre Trust. He was instrumental in fundraising for and formation of PuppeteersUK, an organisation he chaired for many years.