PUPILS were transported back to yesteryear, a time of knight school, word play and corny gags, as their annual production took to the stage.

A packed house of friends and family held court with a comic king and queen, precious princesses, a hapless hero, a muddled magician and a belligerent black knight in a three performance run of Craig Hawes’ What a Knight.

More than 80 Year 5 and 6 pupils at Barnard Castle Preparatory School had rehearsed for months to produce a peerless production of comedy, song and dance for one matinee and two evening shows.

Produced and directed by Year 6 teacher Rebecca Robertson, the production had the backing of enthusiastic back stage staff and parents who provided the costumes and props.

The story traces the antics of hapless squire Watt Cobblers, played by Benjamin French, who despite the efforts of his mother, played by Zara Dobson, is expelled from knights school.

He reluctantly becomes the apprentice of a muddled Merlin (George Goad) who loses Excalibur and must face the ire of King Arthur (Jonny Royle) and Queen Guinevere (Emily Coggrave), whose three highly strung daughters (Ellie Derrick, Esme Berend and Harriet Robson) are kidnapped, while put-upon Princess Alice (Minnie Wilson) and Dusty the Dragon (Polly Heintz) help Watt save the day.

The sinister Black Knight (Tom Body) and his witless side-kicks Ernie and Bernie Blackhead (Toby Gent and Harry Sinclair) fail to spoil the day with a doomed coup, while ironic humour poured from a morose Jolly Jake the Jester (Bella Staley) and a reflective magic mirror (Jemima Burton).

Mrs Robertson said: “All the pupils worked extremely hard and put in some exemplary performances.

“What a Knight is one of my favourites and really challenges pupils with clever word play, comedy, song and dance. They did a great job which was really appreciated by packed houses.”

Headmistress Laura Turner added: “The children have been absolute superstars with their acting, singing, dancing and comic timing. The thing I love the most about our production is that it brings everyone together. So much work goes into putting on the show but it works because we work as a team both on stage and behind it.”