Friends of Norfolk Dialect panto script comes from Colin’s hospital bed for third year running

Colin Burleigh

Colin Burleigh - Credit: Archant

At the last Friends of Norfolk Dialect pantomime script writer Colin Burleigh joked he did not intend to write the next one from a hospital bed.

FOND panto poster Robin Hood

FOND panto poster Robin Hood - Credit: Archant

Mr Burleigh, who lives in Dereham, had already written two from the Norfolk & Norwich University Hospital when he went in for a knee replacement and then a hip replacement.

But due to more problems with his knee Mr Burleigh found himself back in for more surgery in November but this gave him the opportunity to write Robin Hood and his Merrie Men, his third pantomime in a row to be written during a stay in hospital which will be performed at Lincoln Hall in Hingham on January 11.

Mr Burleigh wrote in a report on the FOND website: 'Oi'm agorn inter the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital on 20 November ter see if they ken hev another go at my knee so by the toime this git tew yer they shoulda sorted me out.

'The last tew yare I're bin in thare I're got yar pantomime writ but ter be honest Oi never thort that could happen a thard toime, but that hev. So wi' any luck yew should be seeing the FOND lot a'dewin' Robin Hood and his Merrie Men come January.'

The cast of the FOND (Friends of Norfolk Dialect) Pantomine Dick Squittington and his Ow Dorg which

The cast of the FOND (Friends of Norfolk Dialect) Pantomine Dick Squittington and his Ow Dorg which they performed in 2011 at the North Elmham Village Hall, pulling some of the cast out of the audience. From left, front, Ted Peachment as the Dorg called Piddler; and Alan Smith as Dick Squittington; centre row, Colin Burleigh, producer and playing John the Pedlar; Heather Parle as Dame Polly Wiggle; Norman Hart as the Magic Monk; Tina Chamberlain as Alice; and and Jean Eaglen as the cat. Back row, dancers - Credit: ©Archant Photographic 2011

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And so Robin Hood and His Merrie Men came to be written, a Norfolk version of the ancient legend, and promises to be entertaining and full of mirth and merriment – and Norfolk dialect of course.

But Mr Burleigh said it is not the usual format where the cast are given scripts to learn weeks in advance and attend regular rehearsals. The FOND panto sees members given a script about fifteen minutes before curtain up!

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'That is how it began when the late Tony Clarke used to write them,' he said. 'A few years after he died I was asked to update some of his scripts and then I was asked if I would write some new ones. That was four years ago and they seem to have been quite successful. I have prewarned a couple of people who make costumes about what we will need and told a couple of others to be prepared for certain parts but there are at least four who will be totally surprised on the night. It is quite a silly format but people seem to enjoy it because everyone makes so many mistakes.'

Mr Burleigh will be narrating some links between scenes from the sidelines on the day.

Last year nearly 200 people enjoyed a performance of Dick Whittington and His Ow' Cat.

The panto used to be held at North Elmham, but seats were in such demand two years ago that they ended up having to borrow more out of the church down the road, so last year they moved to the larger premises at Hingham.

Also at the event, which starts at 2pm, the winners of the Trosher writing competition will be presented with their prizes. This year's successful writers are Sharon Ingle, Heather Parle and Wendy Montgomery.

Tickets for the pantomime cost £5 or £4 for FOND members can be purchased by sending a cheque made out to FOND to the Membership Secretary, Tyddyn, Swanton Avenue, Dereham NR19 2HJ or just come on the afternoon. There will be a retiring collection for the EDP 'We Care' appeal.

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