Page last updated at 16:14 GMT, Thursday, 10 December 2009

Budding 'Billy Elliot' ballet dancers aid culture bid

Rhys Yeomans and schoolchildren 'Billy Elliots'
Rhys Yeomans and County Durham 'Billy Elliots'

A troupe of aspiring Billy Elliots joined one of the young stars of the musical to promote Durham as a contender for UK City of Culture 2013.

The youngsters, from schools around County Durham, were with Rhys Yeomans in London to deliver the city's bid.

This promised that, if successful, it would display the Lindisfarne gospels for a three month period.

There would also be a festival of light, following the success of Lumiere in November.

The event was such a success, and proved the region's appetite for culture, that Lumiere will become a biennial event, taking place in 2011 and forming one of the major events of 2013.

Among those backing the bid is Sir Thomas Allen, the baritone who has been cited by the playwright Lee Hall as the inspiration for Billy Elliot.

Love affair

He said: "Durham was only 12 miles from where I was born in Seaham.

"The centrepiece of our small city is a cathedral, the most powerful and most beautiful symbol of its kind in the world, in my opinion."

Another supporter, the writer Bill Bryson, said: "My long standing love affair with Durham is well known as I have, without hesitation, lavished praise on its architecture, heritage, gardens and river.

"The more time I spend in the company of the people of Durham, the more I have come to realise that there really must be something in the water here."

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