A THEATRE with a tradition of having knitted props in its pantomime has brought forward its appeal for the items in a bid to give people something to do during social distancing.

The Georgian Theatre Royal in Richmond has a long-standing tradition of incorporating knitted items into its pantomimes, which has become a popular community activity with hundreds of people taking part.

Last year, thousands of ‘lightbulbs’ were made to throw at the baddie in Aladdin and previous productions have used apples, bananas, snowballs, doughnuts, leaves and patchwork squares.

The theatre is appealing for knitted hearts, which will be used during the 56 performances of Beauty and the Beast, taking place between Friday, December 4 2020 and Sunday, January 10 2021.

“Several of our regular knitters have been in touch over the last few days to see if they can start knitting for the pantomime in order to pass the time during the coronavirus isolation period,” said Clare Allen, theatre manager and pantomime director.

“We normally launch the appeal at the end of the summer so that people can start knitting as the nights draw in but right now, as most of us are confined to our homes, does seem like an ideal time to get your needles out."

This year’s heart pattern has been road-tested by regular theatre knitter Jen Capewell, who said: “I have now knitted three hearts and also had some friends try out the pattern. It is quite easy to do and can be adapted as people wish.

"The hearts can be in all colours and made from different types of wool so it is an ideal project for using up odd bits of yarn. They can even be multi-coloured or stripy - just let your imaginations go wild.”

Once the pantomime is over, the theatre always tries to find a good home for the knitted objects and last year’s lightbulbs went to the RSPB nature reserve at Saltholme and local nursery schools.

Visit the theatre's website to download the knitting pattern.