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Marlowe Theatre pantomime dame Ben Roddy returns to Peter Pan on crutches

Pantomime dame Ben Roddy returned to the stage on Tuesday afternoon - on crutches - just days after rupturing ligaments as he walked to the theatre.

In front of a packed Marlowe Theatre in Canterbury on Sunday, the 43-year-old "twinged" his ankle during the first half of Peter Pan and at first feared he may have broken it.

But in true showbiz style, he limped on until the interval, by which time he was in “eye-watering pain” and unable to walk.

Ben Roddy as Mrs Smee in Peter Pan at the Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury. Picture: Tim Stubbings
Ben Roddy as Mrs Smee in Peter Pan at the Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury. Picture: Tim Stubbings

Forced to miss the second half of the show, he was taken to hospital by his wife as fellow panto stars filled in for him.

It had flared up an injury caused as he walked to the theatre on Sunday afternoon.

He had been expected to use a wheelchair for this week's performances, but with just hours before the curtain went up on Tuesday afternoon, his GP said he could use crutches instead - prompting another last minute rewrite of the script.

Ben, who steals the show as Mrs Smee, said: “The doctor said I should rest for three weeks, but obviously this is such an important time of the year and I can’t let everybody down.

Lloyd Hollett and Ben Roddy get into the panto spirit at the Marlowe
Lloyd Hollett and Ben Roddy get into the panto spirit at the Marlowe

“I turned my ankle on cobbles as I walked to the Marlowe and although it was painful I think the adrenalin of performing put it to the back of my mind.

“But I twinged it again during a dance routine very early in the evening show and by the interval the pain was eye-watering. I thought I must have broken it, it was so painful.

“The doctor said the worst case scenario was that I would have to have surgery, so we’re going to make sure I don’t get to that stage. We’ll be careful and take things one day at a time. But, as the phrase goes, the show must go on.

“To be honest, it provides lots of extra jokes.”

Panto star Ben Roddy
Panto star Ben Roddy

Ben’s role in the second half of Sunday’s performance was absorbed by co-star and panto regular Lloyd Hollett rather than ushering in his understudy.

Producer Paul Hendy added: “In true showbusiness style, the cast pulled together and the show went on.

“Ben is a real trooper.”

This year’s panto, which stars EastEnders and Extras star Shaun Williamson, runs until January 14.

Injured Ben was full of praise for NHS staff after sustaining his injury – and ironically was able to use an app on his phone which he has previously helped advertise.

The WaitLess app allows users to see the waiting times at local hospitals so they can get seen quickly.

And it was that which Ben turned to as he headed to the nearest A&E.

He said: “It showed us the Kent & Canterbury had the shortest wait, so we headed there and were seen within five minutes.

“I must have looked a little odd as I was still wearing some make-up – although had at least got out of costume by then.

“The hospital staff were brilliant and I’m very grateful to them all for the quality of their care.”

The actor appeared in an advert for the app - playing an injured rugby player - when it launched last year.

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