Tributes were today paid to Britain's longest serving Punch and Judy man, who has died aged 54.

Mike Stone, who was a Punch and Judy man in Brighton for 30 years, died this week at the Royal Sussex County Hospital after a long battle against liver disease.

A colourful funeral is being planned - he specified nobody should wear black.

Mr Stone was the friendly face of traditional seaside entertainment with his regular shows on the Palace Pier and seafront.

He got people of all ages chorusing "Oh yes he did" and "Oh no he didn't".

Mr Stone, who performed under the name of Sergeant Stone, was still doing shows in the weeks before his death.

He made regular TV appearances, toured America and Europe and even took part in The Archers radio serial.

Fellow entertainer Brian Ralfe said: "He was such a character and he will be sorely missed.

"He was one of the characters of Brighton, which will be a sadder place without him"

Life-long friend Amanda Lucas said: "Mike was a colourful character who entertained the young and the old.

"He was a one off. Professors of Punch and Judy like Mike Stone are part of our national heritage."

Mr Stone was frequently involved in run-ins with authorities about his shows and was rarely out of the spotlight.

Traders complained the large crowds he attracted obstructed the Brighton seafront.

Five years ago he was officially banned from performing on the seafront because of the disruption.

After his seafront ban, he continued to perform at private venues, including parties for adults as well as children.

He caused outrage among feminists when he performed an X-Rated production of Punch and Judy at cabaret shows across Brighton.

In the adults-only version, Punch enjoyed steamy nights with a girlfriend called Pretty Polly until Judy rumbled him and murdered her.

He once got so hot working the puppets in the confines of his tall, portable stage on the beach, he stripped off completely.

Parents wanting to thank him for his entertaining shows were shocked to find him stark naked when they went backstage and complained to the council.

Mr Stone lived in Eaton Gardens, Hove. He was born in Brighton and attended St Mary Magdelene School, Upper North Street.

He trained as an actor and appeared in the Please Sir TV series.

After getting the occasional character and promotional job, including dressing up as a Jaffa Cake, he decided to take up glove puppetry.

He made his debut as a Punch and Judy Man at West Blatchington Infants School, Hove, on June 12, 1974, and went on to do hundreds of shows over the years.