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£30m Kynren history epic receives standing ovation

Published 03/07/2016

The outdoor live action show depicts 2,000 years of English history in 23 scenes (Kynren/PA)
The outdoor live action show depicts 2,000 years of English history in 23 scenes (Kynren/PA)

A spectacular £30 million epic show of 2,000 years of English history has received a standing ovation on its opening night.

More than 1,000 volunteers aged between three and 87 worked for over a year on the remarkable Kynren production, staged on a loop of the River Wear below Auckland Castle in Bishop Auckland, County Durham.

The idea was inspired by one of France's biggest tourist attractions, the Puy du Fou, and paid for by city fund manager and philanthropist Jonathan Ruffer.

His hope is that performances will run for decades after generations of volunteers learn the skills necessary to stage the epic shows.

The show was almost an 8,000 sell-out, and crams English history from the Roman times to the Second World War into 90 minutes.

There are battling kings, flaming arrows, jousts and dancing.

Also featuring are geese, gambolling sheep and horses so close that the stands, or tribune, throb to the beat of their hooves.

And at the centre of the huge set is a lake where much of the action happens.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, who is a friend of Mr Ruffer, also has a cameo, voicing the part of St Cuthbert.

The finale, including Land of Hope and Glory and an impressive firework display, brought the audience to its feet.

Afterwards, Ann Rumney, 75, from South Shields, South Tyneside, said: "It was absolutely wonderful. "For volunteers to put this on was marvellous.

"The scale was so big, you didn't know which way to turn.

"I hope this will go on for years."

Susan Holmes, 69, from Carlisle, said: "The show was fabulous and the sky before hand was wonderful."

Her nephew Adrian Wilkinson from Southampton believed Kynren could provide a tourist boost for the North East. "When the word gets out, I think it could attract large numbers," he said. His daughter Daisy, 10, added: "The scale of it was amazing, it wasn't like a normal show."

Local solicitor Anthony Walters said: "It was absolutely brilliant, incredible, I don't know what to say."

In its first season Kynren will run 14 shows from between now and September, with seats costing £25-£55 for adults and £19-41 for children.

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