Panto comes to the wards

THE magic of panto will come to the bedside of poorly children across the North East in a first for the UK.

Aladdin – The Magical Pantomime Adventure, which is running at Newcastle’s Theatre Royal, will be beamed free to all 8,500 hospital-bed TV screens in the region on Saturday.

The project has been two years in the planning and is believed to be the first of its kind in the world.

It is the brainchild of Theatre Royal Trustee Howard Tait and involves a collaboration between NHS North East, Newcastle Theatre Royal and Hospedia, the region’s hospital broadcast network.

All of those involved in the scheme are giving their services for free, including Hospedia, Dene Films, the pantomime cast and crew and the hospitals.

Mr Tait said: “We are often able to bring a small number of more mobile kids to the show and seeing the children’s faces light up just made me wonder how we could extend this magic to many more children unable to leave their beds.

“As far as we are aware this has never been done before anywhere in the world. It’s been a long time in the planning and with 17 different stakeholders involved, no easy feat. I’m so pleased we got there in the end.

“For many, this will be a dream come true.”

This year’s panto is the theatre’s most successful yet, with 80,000 tickets sold already.

It will be screened at the hospitals at 2pm on Saturday, with repeat showings at 4pm and 6pm.

The show will run at the Theatre Royal until Saturday, January 19.

Tickets cost from £11 to £28 and can be bought on 08448 112121, or online at www.theatreroyal.co.uk