PLAY nurses at Great Western Hospital have appealed for Swindon actors to resurrect their panto, after the children’s unit was left off a panto charity’s Christmas touring list.

Poorly youngsters at the Marlborough Road hospital have enjoyed the annual panto for years.

But this year, patients on the children’s unit at GWH face a year without calls of “it’s behind you” and “oh no it isn’t”. Starlight, a charity that turns hospital wards into temporary theatres for pop-up pantomimes, is unable to stop in Swindon as they tour the UK.

Claire Parks, senior play specialist at GWH, appealed for Swindon actors to come to their rescue.

“We’re a little disappointed this year,” she said. “We’ve got lots of lovely things going on, but we are sad that we can’t have the Starlight pantomime this year. They just didn’t have a slot for us.”

Last year, actors transformed one of the rooms on the24-bed children’s unit into the set for Cinderella. The ugly sisters, named Mel and Sue after the former hosts of the Great British Bake Off, kept poorly children giggling with their corny jokes.

A year on, Claire joked: “If we don’t get a panto, it’s going to have to be the ward staff who do it and that would be dire.”

However, there could be light at the end of the tunnel for the panto-less hospital.

The Advertiser understands play specialists are in discussion with the Wyvern Theatre over bringing characters from this year’s Aladdin spectacular to GWH.

Laura James, marketing manager at the theatre, said: “We’ve heard about the hospital being let down. We’ve got the magic of panto at the theatre and we’d like to spread a little bit of that magic.”

Starlight said its actors were visiting 90 hospitals this Christmas. “As we are not able to visit every hospital, those that we do visit will differ somewhat each year,” a spokesman added. “The team tour the country performing up to two interactive performances, in two hospitals each day, six days a week, to help bring Christmas cheer to as many children, families and carers as possible, giving the children an opportunity to escape from the routine and reality of living with a serious illness.”

Any other local theatre groups able to help the hospital is asked to call Claire Parks at the children’s unit on 01793 604095.