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Philip Board
"I don't know what to make of it all"
 real 28k

Thursday, 3 May, 2001, 15:00 GMT 16:00 UK
Phoenix heads for panto stardom
Mrs Board and Phoenix
Mrs Board: "She will be a lot bigger at Christmas"
Phoenix, the calf who became a national star after surviving the foot-and-mouth cull, has been offered a part in pantomime.

Talks are under way for the white calf to appear alongside entertainer Shane Ritchie in Jack and the Beanstalk at Christmas.

But contrary to press reports she is unlikely to be appearing on stage in Wimbledon.


It's very difficult to get actors these days to play the front and back end of a cow in a skin

John Conway, Qdos director
Philip Board, who owns the garage in Devon where Phoenix is stabled, believes that travelling to London would be "unfair on the animal".

Mr Board is, however, considering a panto role for the fledgling star a little closer to home.

"If it comes off down here and draws people from afar and helps the holiday industry down here, then fantastic," Mr Board told BBC News Online.

"We've got the Green Welly appeal for the farmers and if all this comes off and it's going to earn all this money then some of that money will go to them."

Pantomime production company Qdos has offered to pay around 400 a week for six weeks for Phoenix to be in the show.

Shane Ritchie
Shane Ritchie may co-star
Phoenix, now three weeks old, was saved from execution when found still alive amongst the rest of her culled herd.

Real cow

Director of Qdos John Conway said negotiations were under way to book Phoenix for Jack and the Beanstalk.

"It's very difficult to get actors these days to play the front and back end of a cow in a skin, nobody wants to do it," he told BBC News Online.

"Last year when we did Jack and the Beanstalk in Nottingham, half way through the run the guy decided he didn't want to do the backend of a cow anymore and left the show.

"Suddenly this came in the news and I thought - 'let's have a real cow playing a cow'."

The offer of a pantomime part for Phoenix came as a surprise for Mr Board's wife Michaela.

"When we were approached with the possibility of Phoenix appearing in a pantomime we thought it was a joke.

"We are still talking about it at the moment, but nothing has been signed."

She added: "When she is little it would not be a problem appearing on the stage, but she will be a lot bigger at Christmas."

Buckets

Phoenix is also still under quarantine to see whether signs of foot-and-mouth develop.


She looks upon us as her as her mum and dad

Michaela Board

Phoenix survived for five days next to her dead mother after her herd was slaughtered on 18 April.

Vets were due to put Phoenix down. A sudden government policy change then meant Phoenix could live.

Mrs Board said Phoenix was "going very well".

"She has graduated from bottles of milk to buckets and has filled out," she added.

"She is playing with us now. She looks upon us as her as her mum and dad, I think."

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