POORLY children will have a slice of Christmas magic beamed straight to their hospital bedsides, as panto season gets under way around the region.

Newcastle Theatre Royal's production of Aladdin will be beamed to all hospitals in the North-East - for free - at 2pm, on Saturday, December 15, with repeat showings at 4pm and 6pm.

The project took two years to plan and was made possible through a partnership between the Theatre Royal, NHS North East and Hospedia, which provides TV screens and phones in the region's hospitals.

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Howard Tait, a Theatre Royal trustee and chief executive of advertising agency Martin Tait Redheads, who came up with the idea, said: “As far as we are aware this has never been done before, anywhere in the world. For many, this will be a dream come true.”

Theatre boss Philip Bernays said: “To be able to screen the show to so many hospitalised children is nothing short of remarkable.

"Howard has worked very hard on making this happen and we are delighted with what he has achieved.”

More than 80,000 tickets have been sold for Aladdin, which runs until January 19, visit theatreroyal.co.uk

Elsewhere, modern versions of classic fairytales are being staged at theatres across the region.

Robin Hood and his Merry Mam (CORR) runs at York Theatre Royal from December 3 to February 2.

Panto regular Berwick Kaler, who is celebrating his 40th year in the industry, stars in the show, along with regulars Martin Barrass, Suzy Cooper, Sian Howard and AJ Powell.

Tickets are priced from £10 to £26 and are available by calling 01904-623568 or visiting yorktheatreroyal.co.uk

Sunderland’s Empire theatre will is showing Peter Pan from December 13 to January 6.

It features Emmerdale star Tom Lister as Captain Hook.

In Darlington, the town’s Civic Theatre is embracing the panto spirit with a production of Sleeping Beauty, which runs from Saturday (December 8) to January 20.

The show stars the husband-and-wife team Linda Lusardi and Sam Kane, who met and fell in love during a production of Snow White at the Civic 14 years ago.

Philip Meeks will step into the role of the Dame and singer Zoe Birkett, who finished fourth in the 2002 series of Pop Idol, will take the lead as Princess Beauty.

For tickets, call 01325-486-555 or visit darlingtonarts.co.uk