A KIND-HEARTED resident has stepped forward at the last minute to save a village panto.
When the annual Bardon Mill pantomime committee decided on its traditional winter production, they thought there would be no problem recruiting for the parts.
But this is Jack and the Beanstalk with a difference.
For the giant is to be loosely based on the character of top chef Jamie Oliver – going under the name of HAMIE TOLLIVER.
But the part of the giant chef was meant to be taken on by one villager who was called away to India for work.
This meant the committee needed to find a replacement – but they struggled to get any of the men in the village to step in because they were embarrassed to be seen in the costume.
But now one villager has agreed to don the daft costume on the provision he remains anonymous.
Panto organiser Maureen Brook, said: “It was all organised for Mike Frayne, who played the part of an Ugly Sister last year, to take the part. But Mike has to go to India with his work – and we were left one man short for the part of the giant chef.
“Try as we might, we couldn’t get any of the men in the village to step in.
“Then, walking through the village one day, we bumped into this gentleman and – with a little bit of coercion from his good wife – he agreed to do it for us.
“But he would only do it on condition that nobody would recognise him when he was up on stage.”
Added Maureen: “He is a village man, so we’ve made sure the disguise is good enough to conceal his identity. And it certainly is a top disguise. He’s got to wear a big wig and beard and look like a wild redhead.”
But Maureen said that just for a bit of extra fun, they are going to run a competition among the audience to see if anyone can recognise the mystery giant after all.
She said: “All the children in the panto are sworn to secrecy. And the only clue we can give at this stage is that the audience will find our giant is vertically challenged.”
“Our panto is a little later than others because we found last year that the children had so much on at school that it had to be rushed,” said Maureen.
“So this year we decided to go for February to give everybody time to put on the perfect panto. With the perfect giant chef.”
The panto will be staged at Henshaw First School on Friday, February 3, at 7pm and Saturday, February 4, at 1.30pm and 7pm.