OPERA fan Gary Winn has landed a grant to put his Geordie version of Gilbert and Sullivan's The Mikado on stage.

Mr Winn has spent a year re-writing the show, replacing the courts of imperial Japan with North-East workingmen's clubs.

The 51-year-old hospital bio-chemist started working on the project for fun but contacted Northern Arts when he had completed reworked the script.

The organisation was so impressed with the regional twist on the show that they sent him a £500 grant and arranged for the show to be given its debut at one of the county's premier venues - the Gala Theatre in Durham, next year.

In the new version of The Mikado one of its best-known songs, Three Little Maids From School Are We, is now Three Bonny Lasses From The Toon Are We.

Mr Winn, who lives with his wife, Julie, and family in South Church, Bishop Auckland, is thrilled to win the support of Northern Arts.

He said he has a wealth of first-hand knowledge of North East culture to draw from and hopes it will be well received when watched by a local audience.