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Diary - Panto's dark side

While schools across the country are busy co-ordinating their wise men and donkeys for the annual nativity play, a Coventry primary school has decided to get "down with the kids" and revamp Hansel and Gretel for the end of year panto.

Teachers at Keresley Newland Primary School have turned the two main characters into violent, hoody-wearing brats who end up being arrested for criminal damage.

Meanwhile, the witch who in the original fairytale lures the children into danger is a defenceless elderly woman who is devastated when her house is wrecked by the duo.

The teachers who wrote the script say that the new version highlights issues of bullying and anti-social behaviour.

However, it has had a mixed reception among parents, some of whom are threatening to boycott the show. "It's an absolute disgrace," said one parent. "It's a travesty that a jolly panto story has become a bleak portrayal."

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