A NEW theatre hopes to continue attracting audiences with its autumn programme.

Durham's Gala Theatre, which recently suffered a setback when its management company, The Entertainment Team (Durham), went into liquidation, has just announced a revised programme for autumn and Christmas.

Following a negative response to the scheduled production of James and the Giant Peach, it has removed it from the December slot, replacing it with Christmas Cat and The Pudding Pirates, which will run from December 2-28, and contain parts for local children.

The theatre previously removed shows by Nicholas Parsons and Sheridan Morley from its summer programme due to lack of ticket sales.

Rob Flower, general manager of Gala, which is currently being run by Durham City Council, said: "In light of recent events, we have had to make some hard decisions about future productions at the theatre. However, from audience feedback, we know the new productions we are offering this autumn will be real winners.

"Those which have been dropped were not catching the imagination of local people, and we know that the well-known plays and host of excellent actors we are bringing to Durham this year will interest local people and make Gala the centre of arts and community activity in the city centre."

The season begins with Carrying David, telling the story of world boxing champion Glenn McCrory's disabled foster brother, and October will see the staging of Noel Coward's Hay Fever, Billy Liar by Keith Waterhouse, and Alan Ayckbourn's Taking Steps.

In November, Timothy West will star in Shakespeare's King Lear, and Dickens' A Christmas Carol will run from December to January. Customers who have booked tickets for James and the Giant Peach will be contacted individually by the box office within seven days, and the tickets will be refunded or transferred.