AN actress playing a mermaid in a North-East pantomime had to be replaced at the last minute by Tinker Bell after falling on the ice and breaking her wrist.

The dramatic twist – just hours before the opening performance of Peter Pan at Middlesbrough Theatre – happened when the actress playing Mrs Darling and the Mermaid took a tumble on the ice in Linthorpe.

Instead of sitting on the Mermaid’s Rock during the opening matinee, Joanne found herself sitting in A&E – with the rest of the cast rallying around to ensure the show went ahead.

Amy Burrows, who plays Tinker Bell, stepped into her shoes, while Rachel Thornton, who has been dancing in Middlesbrough Theatre pantomimes from the age of six, made her professional acting debut as Tinker Bell.

Joanne was back from hospital in time to resume her role – complete with plaster cast – in the evening performance.

Middlesbrough Theatre Manager David Lindsey said: “In true theatrical tradition, the cast weren’t going to let the small matter of a broken bone get in the way of a great show.

“Amy and Rachel didn’t hesitate and stepped up to the mark straight away – and both gave pitch-perfect performances with a only a minimum of rehearsal.

“Amazingly Joanne was back on stage just a few hours later for the first evening performance, complete with plaster cast.”

Peter Pan runs until Sunday, January 6 and stars John Challis – also known as Boycie in Only Fools and Horses – as Captain Hook.