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Last Updated: Wednesday, 13 October, 2004, 11:00 GMT 12:00 UK
Panto 'Dick' blocked by computers
TV presenter Helen McDermott
Helen McDermott said it was "political correctness gone mad"
A theatre company has told how its attempts to promote a pantomime failed because of school computers.

Helen McDermott, from Ohyesitiz company, e-mailed 30 schools in Norfolk offering to perform Dick Whittington for free but received only one reply.

She later discovered that the schools' computer filters, designed to prevent children seeing offensive material, had blocked the pantomime's title.

The Anglia Television presenter said "it's political correctness gone mad".

Miss McDermott, 50, of Norwich, said: "I didn't intend the e-mail to go to a child. I assumed it would be picked up by a secretary. Why do their computers have to be filtered like this?

We have to have good systems in place to protect children and this demonstrates that they are working, albeit in an unintended fashion
Norfolk County Council spokesman
"I think there's a serious point here. How many opportunities do schools miss because their computers won't accept innocent offers like this? What a sad comment on the times we live in.

"One of the aims of our company is to introduce children to theatre and we thought this would be a good way of doing it."

A spokesman for the Norfolk education authority said all schools in the county had systems in place to protect youngsters from unsuitable internet material.

He said it was unlikely that the single use of a common name such as "Dick" would be rejected unless it was used a number of times or combined with other sensitive words.

"It is unfortunate but it is the world we live in today," he said.

"We have to have good systems in place to protect children and this demonstrates that they are working, albeit in an unintended fashion."

Miss McDermott said the company had now arranged a number of visits to primary schools - by telephone.

The pantomime will run from 18 December to 8 January at the Gorleston Pavilion in Norfolk.




SEE ALSO:
Pigs ham it up in panto
11 Dec 02  |  England


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