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I hope historical shows will become family institution, benefactor says

The Kynren show which depicts 2,000 years of history in 90 minutes is about to enter its third season.

The benefactor behind the spectacular Kynren outdoor historical shows said he hopes it will become a family institution like Christmas or Star Wars as it begins its third season.

The live action night-time show rattles through 2,000 years of English history and is performed by hundreds of trained volunteers in Bishop Auckland, County Durham though the summer.

Each season has brought changes, with fresh stunts and tweaks to the story of Arthur, a schoolboy who travels through time to see Romans, Vikings, English and Scots battles, jousting, Shakespeare, Georgians and present-day Elizabethans.

This year’s theme is In Remembrance – marking the centenary of the Armistice and the Suffragette movement, and both are featured in the 90-minute show.

Jonathan Ruffer, the 67-year-old millionaire philanthropist who has funded the show as a way to regenerate the former mining town, told a preview audience he hoped the pageant would become a family institution as it enters its third season.

He said it was not like Trooping the Colour where the only thing that changed was “the name of the person who falls off the horse”.

“What we have here is something much more akin to Star Wars, it’s something you can come back to year after year,” he said.

“So just as we all look forward to Christmas – and you don’t think ‘not another Christmas’ – that’s how I hope Kynren will be with us, in 50 years’ time.”


Performers taking part in the open air show in Bishop Auckland (Eleven Arches/PA)

Performers taking part in the open air show in Bishop Auckland (Eleven Arches/PA)

Press Association Images

Performers taking part in the open air show in Bishop Auckland (Eleven Arches/PA)

The open air shows are performed beneath Auckland Castle and feature daring horse riding, flaming arrows, a Norman longboat and The Beatles.

The 1,000-strong cast and crew were recently honoured with the prestigious Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service.

Kynren officials said they hoped to have attracted 500,000 visitors by 2020.

For more information on this season’s shows which begin on June 30 and run to September 15, visit www.kynren.com

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