Village panto cancelled for first time in half a century

PUBLISHED: 10:21 13 July 2020 | UPDATED: 11:16 13 July 2020

Neville Greenhalgh as Geties and Steve Bussey as Carson the Butler in Hethersett panto's 2014 show Beauty and the Beast. Picture: Peter Steward

Neville Greenhalgh as Geties and Steve Bussey as Carson the Butler in Hethersett panto's 2014 show Beauty and the Beast. Picture: Peter Steward


Organisers of a long-running village pantomime have made the “regrettable” decision to cancel their next show, breaking a streak stretching back half a century.

The 2021 version of Hethersett’s annual show has become the latest event to fall victim to the coronavirus pandemic – the decision brings to an end an unbroken run of 51 pantos going back to Sleeping Beauty in 1970.

But Hethersett Pantomime Group has vowed to come back with “a great show in 2022”.

Explaining the decision to cancel, chairman of the pantomime committee Neville Greenhalgh said: “It is with regret that I have to announce that next year’s proposed pantomime will not take place.

“The committee decided to leave it until the end of June to make a final decision but it is now clear that, as a result of the coronavirus, it would be impossible, following the guidelines, to rehearse safely or have our usual size cast.

“Also social distancing requirements are very likely to still be in place for theatre audiences meaning that our potential available size would make putting on a show untenable.

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“We hope that everybody understands the situation and we are determined to put on a great show in 2022.”

The annual Hethersett Pantomime regularly plays to sell out audiences during a week-long run each January. Over the past 50 plus years, performances have also raised hundreds of thousands of pounds for local and national charities and good causes.

Meanwhile the Hethersett Players Drama Group has beaten lockdown by producing an online episode of Flash Gordon with a script taken from an original radio show of the 1930s.

The actors performed their parts at home and collated all the individual clips into a final piece lasting 18 minutes.

“With the unfortunate news that we had to cancel this year’s first production, we couldn’t be beaten so we went virtual,” the Players said.

The group has just reformed after a hiatus lasting a number of years. Its scheduled VE Celebration evening including an episode of Dad’s Army scheduled for June had to be cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Hethersett Players’ virtual production of Flash Gordon can be viewed on its website.

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