Former Blue Peter presenter in Wrexham panto row

Reporter:

Claire Gallagher

PLANS by one of Wrexham’s most famous faces to bring a pantomime to the town have landed him in hot water with a rival panto group.

Tim Vincent is to stage and star in Aladdin at the William Aston Hall in December and January.

Wrexham and District Pantomime Company, which has been in operation since 1906, were set to put on the same panto in February half-term.

Now the existing group say they have been upstaged and forced to change their plans.

Member Lisa Jones-Tattum said: “The Wrexham and District Pantomime Company (formerly Walter Roberts Pantomime Company) is a steadfast tradition in Wrexham and it would be a shame if the production planned by Tim brings this to an end.

“As a well-known professional, we are proud that Tim’s roots are in Wrexham, so should he not be helping us hang on to the few traditions we have left, rather than put a nail in the coffin of our own show?

“While Tim is pushing for city status and feels that bringing his pantomime here will support this, it will be at the cost of one of Wrexham’s longest running traditions.”

Her father Frank Jones, who has himself taken part in 36 pantomimes, said: “If Tim did Aladdin at Christmas I can’t imagine that we will do it again in February.

“We give all our profits away to local charities including Nightingale House.”

The Pantomime ward at the Maelor hospital is named after the company.

Pantomime Dame Mark Salisbury said the group had already started to write the script for Aladdin.

He said: “I’m a little bit upset because Tim says Wrexham needs a professional pantomime and even though we are amateurs we put on a professional show.”

Frank, from Rhos, added: “It costs about £8,000 to run the panto and we work hard towards it each year.

“We don’t like to encroach on other theatre groups in the area such as The Little Theatre or Tip Top Productions.

“We can’t stop Tim bringing it to Wrexham, it’s just knocked us back.”

Frank said the company would decide what production to put on instead at their annual general meeting in May.

Lisa added: “I am sure he (Tim) would not like to see the end of a pantomime era, where many a young and old wannabe singer, actor and dancer have had the opportunity to tread the boards.”

When the Leader spoke to Tim yesterday, he said: “We wish everybody good luck. We looked around to check we wouldn’t be a rival with others.

“We run between December 15 and January 2, 2011, so there should not be a clash here.”

Tim added that he ‘absolutely’ supported any other pantomimes in the area as he knew how important they were for the town.

He added: “We hope everyone comes along watch.”

See full story in the Leader

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